Florence County Museum offers nationally recognized programs about indigo, a cash crop at one time

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FLORENCE CO, S.C. (WBTW) – Guests of all ages learned about indigo, one of South Carolina’s biggest cash crops during the colonial era at the Florence County Museum. Attendees could bring fabric to dye in locally-grown vats of the plant.

“We have been growing a crop of indigo here at the Florence County Museum since 2017,” curator of education Kimberly Washburn said. “We currently have a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for our indigo programming.”

The program teaches visitors how to use indigo to dye fabric. Other programs teach about cultivating and processing the plant. A textile artist herself, Washburn said she likes to see people experiment with patterns and designs.

“Indigo is a personal passion of mine so it’s so exciting,” Washburn said. One attendee brought her daughter with her. She said they had experimented with tie-dying and bleaching clothes, but never indigo.

“We’re making linen cloth napkins,” Charlotte Driggers said. “And we’re hoping to put them together to make a quilt.” She and her daughter used strings, PVC pipes and popsicle sticks to dye patterns into the fabric. Some of the pieces ended up with starburst patterns, while others looked more like plaid.

The Florence County Museum will soon host a series of virtual lessons about how to grow and use indigo at home.

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