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Into the Blue

Into the Blue
June 2016
Enough Pie’s VAT SHACK launches June 4, inviting the community to get hands-on with the historic art of indigo-dyeing

June 4 is shaping up to be a banner day for Charleston. At 11 a.m., Mayor Tecklenburg cuts the ribbon at Colonial Lake Park’s grand reopening (see page 62). Then at 4 p.m., on the other side of the peninsula—in the green space behind public housing facility Joseph Floyd Manor—AWAKENING IV: INDIGO begins.

At the celebration, organizer Enough Pie launches a project, VAT SHACK, that might be considered just as momentous as that newly beautified lake. A mobile unit designed and constructed by students in the Studio V class at the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston, VAT SHACK is South Carolina’s first-known public space dedicated to indigo-dyeing.

“Indigo was a major 18th-century cash crop in the Lowcountry, and local experts and artists are leading a movement to bring back the original seed and natural dye process,” explains Cathryn Zommer, executive director of Enough Pie.

Housing two indigo vats, VAT SHACK falls right in line with the nonprofit’s mission of catalyzing “inclusive and inspiring community engagement in the Upper Peninsula” via collaborations with area organizations and artists. The Sustainability Institute, for example, advised on the structure’s solar panels and rain-catching system. Interested Joseph Floyd residents volunteered to tend the on-site indigo crop, and artists including Arianne King Comer, Kristy Bishop, Leigh Magar, and Heather K. Powers serve as “Den Mamas,” leading workshops, kids’ camps, community dye days (see sidebar), and more through December.

“VAT SHACK not only honors our history, it informs our future,” says Zommer. Learn about more ways to get involved at

From June 4 through December, the mobile unit resides behind Joseph Floyd Manor (2106 Mount Pleasant St.), inviting the public to try their hands at indigo-dyeing during events including:

Saturday, June 4, 4-9 p.m.

Enough Pie’s festivities launch VAT SHACK and feature a juried exhibit of indigo-inspired art, live performances, a documentary film screening, and more. (Rain date is June 5.)

Community Dye Days
Saturday, June 8, July 2 & 16, August 6 & 20, September 3 & 17, times vary
Visitors can dye pieces of cotton to take home, plus strips of fabric that will be tied into a community rag quilt, at no cost. For a small fee, they can also dye their own 100-percent cotton, linen, or silk materials. Look for items created by the Den Mamas to be retailed soon at ibu.