- Learn to Dye
A collaboration with Grown Clothing & Kathryn Davey
Photos by Doreen Kilfeather
Somewhere in between last years lockdowns (while it was still safe to gather outside), I had the pleasure of spending time with a great group of people to record a short video for Grown clothing. We gathered together to capture work from a recent collaboration between myself and Stephen from Grown.
For those of you unfamiliar with Grown, they are a Irish based eco-clothing company, directly addressing the environmental impact of waste & plastic from conventional fast fashion. They plant a native Irish tree for every garment created & reinvest profits in eco education workshops. They recently purchased land to begin reforesting and protecting Irelands native woodlands.
by David Christopher Lynch for Grown
“There is a magic to Indigo that has to be experienced to be understood. From the science behind the Indigo vat to the oxidation process, the entire practice is mesmerising, meditative & therapeutic”
For this collaboration Grown asked me to dye a limited range of sweatshirts. Made from a blend of Hemp & Organic cotton. Hemp is an incredibly strong natural fibre, growing quickly & requiring little water. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial & biodegradable, returning to the earth at the end of its life cycle.
The Organic cotton used in the sweatshirts is been grown without the use of conventional synthetic chemicals. By eliminating harmful chemicals the cotton is safer for all those who have to work with it throughout the manufacturing process & is gentler on our planets depleted resources.
To colour the garments I used natural indigo dye from the leaves of indigofera tinctoria. Indigo dye has been used throughout history by many different civilisations as a superior source of blue dye. In order for indigo dye to be extracted & applied, it has to be made soluble in an alkaline vat where the oxygen has been removed by a process of fermentation.
Once a vat is ready, fibres are dipped & exposed to the air to oxidise, changing the colour from a turquoise/green to blue. Its quite a magical sight to behold. The more you dip, the darker the resulting colour but you have to wait for the blue to change completely between each successive dip. The process is very slow & requires patience, needless to say these sweatshirts took a lot longer to reach the desired colour than I anticipated. Thankfully I had my wonderful daughter Kaijsa on hand to help me with the dyeing.
The sweatshirts sold out immediately, but we are working on a second run of natural colours. They will be hand-dyed in a limited number again so stay posted for more info. on that.