I’m a big fan of natural color, and lately I’ve been trying to learn more about using natural dyes and fibers in my sewing. Perhaps it’s because I’ve got a baby on the way, but using less toxic everything has become more and more important to me. It’s not surprising, then, that when I happened upon a New York Times article last week that mentioned Audrey Louise Reynolds, a natural fabric dyer based in Red Hook, Brooklyn — who collaborates with the the clothing company Elder Statesman, which recently won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize — I had to know more.
Luckily, Audrey was interested in my nascent podcast, so we set up a blind date. Gulp. Don’t you get nervous meeting people you don’t know? Well, I had nothing to worry about. Audrey is, in a word, Awesome. We met for lunch at her boyfriend’s restaurant (Frankies Spuntino…also very Awesome), then we headed down to her Red Hook house, which is still under renovations after Hurricane Sandy rudely flooded her basement work studio and first floor in October.
Comfortably seated at her kitchen table, her labrador Sadie shuffling behind us, Audrey opened up about collaborating with designers, working in high fashion, styling movies, her recent performance piece/show at the New Museum, and, of course, creating dyes from the raw stuff Mother Nature gave us. Her company, ALR Dyeing, will soon come out with a new product line of kid-friendly crayons, dyes, and molding clay (all made with natural, even edible, ingredients), so I’m thinking I need to grab some for when ‘lil Thunder Baby is ready to play.
If you also have the natural dye bug, make sure and listen to the Thread Cult episode on starting a natural dye garden.
Below are a few snapshots of our afternoon, along with some images of Audrey’s recent collaborations.
Frozen dye batch in Audrey’s Red Hook backyard.
A stack of inspiration.
Audrey collaborated with Wendy Nichol for these dresses and leather tote. Clockwise from top left: Audrey used roses, teas, and earths to achieve the mauve tone of the floor-length coat, and charcoal, mica, flowers, and indigo for the floor-length dress. For the leather tote, Audrey did an ocean imprint by coating the bottom of the bag with indigo, then laying the bag on the shoreline and allowing a wave to spread the dye. The blue dress, at bottom, was dyed with indigo. Items available at Wendy Nichol.
In this collaboration with Elder Statesman, Audrey dip dyed a cashmere sweater (already knitted with black palm trees) in a dye made from indigo and charcoal (for the top) and another of carbon and charcoal (for the bottom). (Some of Audrey’s newest work with Elder Statesman will help kick off Fashion Week tomorrow.)
Episode #8: Color Wizardry with Audrey Louise Reynolds
Dyes in History and Archeology, by Jo Kirby
Indigo in the Arab World, by Jenny Balfour-Paul
She’s Crafty show at The New Museum
Daniel McMahon (photographer; great series at Audrey’s Red Hook house)
Audrey’s hand-dyed bags for Unified Field Collective
Thread Cult episode on the Sewing Seeds Project