Natural Dyeing Took Over My Life
Hi, I’m Hannah, the human behind Waxflower Dye Works. I'm so happy to (finally) be publishing the first of many posts, and thought I would start off with a quick rundown of how I got here, and where I want to go with this blog.
I began my exploration into the world of natural dyeing one year ago, at the beginning of pandemic lockdowns. I lost my job, and suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands.
Feeling overwhelmed and discouraged with the state of the world, I went looking for an escape that didn't require me leaving the house. I remembered a picture I'd recently seen on Pinterest - a gorgeous, vibrantly colored scarf surrounded by fresh flowers and berries - with a simple tutorial on dyeing old cotton shirts with food waste and flowers. I thought that would be a fun, relatively straightforward project.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I soon learned that it wasn't as easy as the Pinterest "tutorials" made it seem; My first bundle dyeing attempt was disappointing, to say the least. It was clear that if I wanted to really give this a go, I had to make the choice to invest real time and energy into doing it the right way.
I dove head first into natural dyeing, and it changed my life.
Very quickly, my obsessive need to be understand things - and be good at them - took
over, and natural dyeing became a full-time endeavor. I was spending hours every day researching and taking notes about the fundamentals, all the while buying the necessary fiber preparation supplies and dyestuff, as well as foraging for local plants to practice with.
I set up a makeshift workspace on my back porch, and spent all summer out there dyeing on a thrifted camp stove and second-hand cotton bedsheets. I conducted my own experiments, testing various mordant and dyestuff combinations for light- and wash-fastness. I wanted to make sure that the pieces I was creating would stand up to normal wear, so I made myself some dyed pieces to wear in order to see first-hand what worked and what didn't.
By fall, I had filled an entire notebook (or two) with calculations, definitions, and detailed notes from all of my experiments. I was becoming more and more confident in my skills and knowledge every day, and began selling my work online and locally. I led a small, socially distanced outdoor workshop on eco-printing. I made my first swatch book, and got my first commissioned orders. I spent the winter starting work on a big ongoing project, which will be announced later this year.
When I started to share my work under the name Waxflower Dye Works, I never imagined it would have such an impact on my life. I want to share my experiences - successes, failures, and everything in between - with the hope that it will, in some way, be a positive contribution to the growing natural dye community.