Stone, Ocean and Sky
Turn into each other as
Landscape turns to dreamscape
This collection explores fluidity and impermanence through a fluctuating transition among physical elements, and between the waking and dreaming realms. I am inspired by the elements of stone, ocean and sky, representing the states of solid, liquid and vapor, as well as by the sculptural works of fiber artist Sei Kyota. I use natural fibers, and dye the fabrics with plant dyes in ocean water. The reason for the ocean water is threefold: it reduces the use of our limited fresh water unnecessarily diverted to textile dyeing, naturally contains metal ions (which are necessary to bind the dye to the fiber), and infuses the garments with the energy of the ocean.
This collection is made from 100% silk, including silk faille, silk jersey, and silk crepe de chine. The dyes are made from oak galls (ocher and charcoal colors), madder root (carnelian red color), indigo (blue color), and cutch (brownish orange under-dye for the indigo pieces) each in an ocean water bath. To augment the color of the oak galls, I added an iron mordant, which I made by soaking metal objects containing iron in a solution of water and vinegar for a few weeks. This affects the tannins in the dye and turns it from a light tan to a bronze charcoal. Some mordants, like alum (derived from aluminum) don’t affect the color much, but iron usually changes the original color quite drastically.
Most of the top textile producing countries in the world, such as India and China are faced with devastating fresh water shortages, and many people get sick and die every year because they don’t have access to clean drinking water. Meanwhile, these countries are diverting a large portion of their water supply to be used in the textile industry. These countries are also bordered by oceans. The ocean water doesn’t affect chemical dyes negatively, and in the case of natural dyes, it actually has benefits. Mordants, which are metal ions, are necessary to bind most natural dyes to fibers. Ocean water naturally contains trace amounts of aluminum, iron and other metals. With this process you can use less, or no added mordant at all.
To collect the water, I went to both Baker Beach in San Francisco and Rodeo Beach in Sausalito, and jumped into the ocean to fill a few containers. Yes, it was very cold! I find it very invigorating though, and enjoy this part of my process. The elements of stone, ocean and sky are the three most prominent things I’m in contact with in that moment. I feel that it adds to the garments the experience of jumping into the ocean.
Since many of my garments are sculptural, typical patternmaking could not be applied and I had to come up with my own process. To make the garments with the travelings lines, I first made tiny mock-ups in tag-board to experiment, then larger ones before I went into fabric.