My journey into natural dyeing began shortly after traveling to Indonesia and learning about the process that goes into creating a single textile. I became fascinated with the wisdom that's been passed down through generations, and the different methods of extracting pigment from plants. My dyes are derived from various herbs, roots, berries, bark, leaves and flowers. I use plants that are either grown in my garden or foraged locally in the wild.
My fascination with natural color later led me to studying herbalism at The California School of Herbal Studies. It was here, where my love for plants really blossomed. All my herbal offerings are carefully crafted in small batches from medicine I grow, wildharvest, or source from a farmer through my local Herb Exchange.
My creations are designed to reflect my values, while weaving together my love for nature.
As humans, we have adorned ourselves in clothes since the day we were born, but little do most people know about the process that goes into creating cloth. Sadly, the textile industry is one of the most detrimental to our environment. It's the second largest polluter in the world next to oil, and you're wearing it. Across all textiles, no matter the fiber, the manufacturing and dyeing of fabrics is chemically intensive. The demand for quick and cheap clothes is a huge problem, from unfair wages to major environmental impact. At Vanya, we strive to make a difference, utilizing sustainable systems for textile design. We work directly with artisans as well as our local Fibershed community.
Production can be simplified into tying, dyeing and weaving, however, each process is both complicated and extremely diverse. Each textile piece must undergo its own personal process that can span several days of preparation and production.
The fiber is washed and scoured of foreign material from the fabric. A light pH neutral soap is used or the fiber is boiled for an hour.
The fibers are then mordanted to help the dye bond to the threads. Some mordants used include alum salt, oak galls, salt water and acorn tannins. Once mordanted, the fibers are hung out to dry.
Small pieces of string are carefully wrapped around bundles of thread in an intricate motif to prevent the dye from adhering. With shibori techniques we use rubber bands and pieces of wood to bind the fiber. This ultimately creates the design of the textile.
Plants are then gathered from the home garden or native materials are foraged nearby.
Seeds, bark, flowers and other plant-based materials are processed to make the dye bath. Natural dyes yield varying color results depending on the fiber used. Sometimes, even the same dye bath can produce varying results.
We travel and purchase the textiles from the weavers at fair-trade costs and then transform their handmade items into goods that help support their art and families.
In many remote and Indigenous communities today, weaving remains the work of women and is often a chosen career that allows women to work from home while taking care of their children. However, the demand and compensation for woven textiles is often low and unpredictable.
At Vanya, we respect the time, energy and effort that goes into weaving and empower these women by traveling to their villages and purchasing textiles directly from them at fair-trade costs.
We then help transform their woven art into a sustainable income while doing our part to preserve tradition and give artisans in remote areas the confidence and support to continue their craft.
The heartfelt stories woven into each textile represents an understanding of the cultural history. By supporting the weavers, we help to sustain their culture and the continuation of these art forms so that future generations can enjoy these traditions.