Both processes produce one-off items – even if I tried to reproduce an item exactly, I can’t. The variations of working by hand using these materials means that even if I follow the same procedure using the same materials, the result will be slightly different every time.
So you can be sure that nobody else will have exactly the same item as you!
Indigo is quite a temperamental dye – depending on the temperature, concentration and fabric, it can produce an infinite range of blues. Indigo needs oxygen to turn blue – the colour of an indigo vat is actually greenish-yellow. When I take the fabric out of the vat, it’s quite magical watching it turn from green to blue before my eyes.
My work with indigo uses the technique of shibori, which is a sophisticated Japanese version of tie-dye. I bind, stitch, clamp or wrap the fabric to create areas of “resist”, where the indigo can’t penetrate. This produces characteristic blue and white patterns and textures.
I specialise in upcycling scarves – sourced from auctions, vintage markets and charity shops. I love the thrill of the hunt – and the challenge of transforming something that someone has disposed of into a desirable object. I clean and check each scarf very carefully before dyeing.
Upcycling like this offers several advantages:
- It’s more interesting for me, as each scarf is a different colour, fabric and pattern. It also guarantees that each one will be unique.
- It’s obviously more sustainable – around 500,000 tonnes of clothes get sent to landfill every year in the UK, yet many of them are perfectly wearable.
- Because the cost of my raw materials is lower, the price you pay as a buyer is lower too.
So you get to own a one-of-a-kind scarf at a reasonable price, with the satisfaction of knowing that it’s sustainable too. What more do you need?
In wet felting I take a length of fluffy sheep’s fleece and, using just soap and hot water (and a lot of hard labour!), turn it into a fabric that is light but strong – and very tactile. Felt cries out to be stroked! I particularly like working on 3D sculptural forms – at the moment I am experimenting with origami and geometric structures.
You can follow my experiments with felting and shibori on my Flextiles blog.