During a snowstorm on a January day, I decided to have an experience with madder root. I had worked with this plant numerous times before, but I was in the presence of my mentors: Michel Garcia and Elin Noble, Anna Carlson.
There's a level of precision, I'll just say it.... chemistry. There's a lot of chemistry to achieving a color that is the truest expression of the plant it represents. I did my WOF calculations and knew I did not have enough madder root for all my fibers to be the darkest of reds, but that's not what I wanted...I wanted my scarves to be one shade, the linen tops to be another, the forager dress another. And there is a saying I tell myself when I am afraid to take a leap, I say, kill the perfectionist. Of course I am not being literal here, but I too fall into the trap that I see my students struggle with and that's wanting it to be "perfect" the first time you do something. We all need to remember to Make Space For Practice. (Which is also the name of a boutique in Cambridge, MA that carries my organic Giving Thanks tea towels). Saying "make space for practice" is more compassionate than "kill the perfectionist" either mantra does the trick and allows me to embrace the wabi-sabi that is the essence of my studio practice, and let's be real about it, my life.
I wish I could transport you to my studio so you can experience the olfactory sensation that is madder root. It has a deep earthy smell that reminds me of the loam of a forest on a fall day. It brings me back to biking in Ireland, in the Killarney National Forest in my early twenties. As I stood beside this steaming kettle, stirring linen, I felt a deep heart opening. Knowing this is my dharma that I am meant to work with this magical plant.
Oh...and this last photo...this is what my car looked like at 2 a.m. when I finally left the studio. Luckily someone embodied the truest form of "Minnesota Nice" and saw I was having a hard time getting my car out. He had just shoveled his girlfriend out and was willing to lend me a hand too. I am thankful to live in the land of Minnesota Nice.