Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Interview: Tea in Art with Madame Magar

I have followed artist Leigh Magar, a.k.a. Madame Magar, for a couple of years now on social media. She is a Charleston, South Carolina, based artist who explores fashion, fine art, performance, and history. I am interested in her use of tea as a dye medium for her textile art.  So, I reached out to her for an interview.

LYNN:  You are known for your “seed to stitch” indigo dyed textiles which are turned into fashionable frocks, home accessories, and textile art, but I also know that you use other natural dyes. Tell us a bit about your use of tea as a dye.

LEIGH: The Madame Magar “Seed to Stitch” philosophy is inspired by nature and utilizing local resources to create one of a kind Seasonal/Limited/Local dresses, and using dress scrap cloth to create accessories and textile art. The Charleston Tea Plantation is a nearby/local tea farm that I use to dye cloth; usually mixed with other natural dye plants.

LYNN:  Can you tell us a bit about tea in your life. I understand that you, like I did, grew up in the South Carolina Upstate, so I imagine that you grew up drinking sweet iced tea.  Is that right?

LEIGH: Tea is a memorable part of my life. I grew up drinking very sweet iced tea; especially at my grandmas Sunday table! I feel that Iced Tea is a vital part of the south and home; long ago; when I went to design school for hat making in Manhattan, iced tea was one the most missed things for me! I grew up drinking very sweet iced tea; especially at family gatherings, so the beverage brings back those memorable occasions.

LYNN: Do you drink hot tea? If so, when and how were you introduced to that?

LEIGH: After high school and leaving sparkle city (Spartanburg, SC) for Charleston SC; for a spell I brewed herbal teas but I just liked the ceremonial aspects of it; the delicate vintage cups and saucers; the plants and herbs; a premonition of my dye life!

LYNN: I know that some years you offer a tea dye workshop and luncheon for Mother’s Day. I imagine that the circumstances surrounding this year’s Covid 19 pandemic have led to the cancellation of a 2020 event of this type.  Can we look forward to your hosting of a similar event on other occasions once things open back up? 

LEIGH: Yes all of my natural dye courses have been postponed until we are all able to gather safely again. The Mothers Day Tea was inspired by the Teas given years ago; during Spoleto festival at The Confederate Home and College in Charleston; held in a beautiful outdoor courtyard garden; handmade triangle sandwiches, okra pickles, benne wafers, and of course tea!

As far as workshops; I have started a Blue School; as part of my “seed to stitch “vision, teaching growing, harvesting, processing indigo; so most of my workshops are Private, Custom courses available upon inquiry; but I do look forward to the future being able to host natural dye courses interwoven with local/Seasonal Flora and Fauna, Food, and culture. 

My Courses are very small and limited so as to insure a true hands on/in depth experience. 

I offer 3 day dye sessions-indigo season(May-August)”seed to dye pot” indigo season course; learning every step of the indigo process from seed to dye. 

I have also started a CSTA: (Community Supported Textile Agriculture) program.
Members receive Madame Magar natural dyed and handmade local home goods and textiles and collaborative offerings from local Johns Island farms.
First delivery is Summer Solstice; June 20
Please inquire if interested in details.

All Inquiries: madamemagar@gmail.com

To purchase or view my work:
Instagram @madamemagar
Dresses available at Worthwhile: @shopworthwhile 

© my tea diary
Maira Gall