Friday, May 15, 2015

Inspired by Eliza Pinckney's Indigo: Madame Magar’s Studio

I recently had the opportunity to visit Charleston and the Charleston Museum for their launch of the “Pinckney Project.” The “Project” is an initiative dedicated to raising funds to conserve one of Eliza Lucas Pinckney’s surviving dresses. Pinckney (1722-1793) was an 18th century Renaissance mind and citizen of the world, who experimented with sericulture. [1] Her work with indigo in South Carolina generated a potentially lucrative opportunity for Great Britain to expand the indigo market and challenge French production in the world market.

In addition to seeing her elegant pale blue shoes (Read on..) and her salmon-hued silk damask dress (More..), I had the good fortune to meet Leigh Magar, who joined the event featuring “Madame Magar's Makeshift Studio.” So inspired is she by Eliza Pinckney and indigo, that she has planted the crop herself and is experimenting with various natural dyes. 
She uses not only indigo, but also tea and tobacco on her lovely hand sewn textiles and clothing.  I was captivated by Madame Magar’s indigo bodices and summer shifts.

Madame Magar is generously assisting with raising funds in support of the gown and its conservation. For example, a striking quilted indigo piece is underway for a forthcoming auction. 

You can follow her work via Facebook ( You can follow the Charleston Museum and the Pinckney Project via Facebook (, Instagram and Tumblr.

1. There are numerous online and print resources available for the study of Eliza Pinckney.

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