Perhaps the first thing to affect me was the smell—a burning, pungent smell that I felt slipping to the back of my throat. My eyes stung a bit, watering only when I lingered above the vat of indigo, but I was left seeing blue and smelling urine for days. The smell wasn’t enough, though, to curb curiosity or weaken enthusiasm, because the vat itself was inviting. The iridescent surface of the indigo, slightly shifting, frothy and speckled with residue, hid the liquid beneath. Parting the surface was akin to removing a veil—yet the face, the true characteristics of the dye, remained beyond comprehension still.
The first time, I used gloves when I dipped my hands and cloth into the vat. The pressure against the gloves, the warmth of the indigo, and the completely obscured process led me to shed the second skin. I wanted to feel it. As opaque as the indigo remained, when I touched with bare hands, experiencing the heat and fluidity of the liquid against my skin, nudity awarded a moment of harmony. Naked skin gave the gift of sight amid the shadowy indigo.
The “birthing bucket” lingered above the surface of the indigo womb, catching the newly transformed cloth as it emerged from the liquid, a startling, acid green that slowly became a tender, rich vein of beating blue. A quiet chorus of cloth, shirts, dresses, strings and ribbons, hang about the room in an opus of indigo blue, a testament to the living dye, the process that fosters motherly associations, and the beauty of transformation.