Yesterday, Erika and I made the two hour drive to a retreat center north of Syracuse to take indigo vat fun to FLAIR retreat participants. FLAIR is the brainchild of a former teacher, Heather Scott, who loves handcrafts and wanted to attend a weekend retreat, but couldn't afford the existing costly choices.
We had reached out to Heather about doing something for the participants with two ideas in mind. First, that the creative community needs to work together to build a broad audience of people who want to learn the crafts, people who want to expand their skills, people who are looking for handwork that fulfills them and aren't sure what that is. Second, and this is me being completely honest, that by appearing and donating our time and materials we are creating social capital. We are serious about what we're doing. We plan to be around a long time inspiring and empowering people to learn skills once learned within the family unit. We believe in our vision so much we are willing to make our marketing a visceral thing. Try it and you'll be hooked.
Walking into the community building at the Vanderkamp Center, I had to laugh. Heather had mentioned that the favorite activity from last year's inaugural retreat was upcycling old wool sweaters. Ten women were sitting around a large table covered in felted sweaters - a riot of colors. They were laughing and engrossed in process. One was creating a stuffed owl, another a stuffed elephant. The chairs around them were piled with sweaters waiting to be reinvented.
The instant camaraderie that arises from people sharing a passion is so appealing. The conversation wasn't formal introductions, it was "what a great use of that fabric" and "I love the eyes you're creating from those layers." It was about doing. I love that. I wanted to pull up a chair and start playing, but we had a vat to prepare.
I don't think I'll ever stop getting a thrill from watching people meet the indigo vat. It stinks, so first impressions are not super positive. But watching the newly initiated open their wrapped bundles and see the blue emerge is magical. One woman was wearing her baby, and she went outside to collect pinecones for wrapping in an effort to settle her little one. What emerged from that necessity was amazing. All the finished scarves were beautiful. As always.
Indigo is like that.