A couple of things before we begin...
- Either I'm having a dunce camera moment or something is going a little askew with my Canon! Both are highly possible since it's very likely in need of a darn good clean and proper service but also, my method with photography is to play around and hope for the best. Erhum, no professional training you see. Mental note to self... book camera in for service and think about taking a class in camera technicals!
- Selfies are NOT my comfort zone! But with two kids at school yesterday, my options for outsourcing the photography were somewhat limited. So please excuse the weird angles and contorted twists in the 'finished dress' photos.
Right, now that I have those two points off my chest, let's move on...
It was barely more than a year ago that I was introduced to the creative force that is India Flint. I'm still in wonder over how I had not discovered her or her work some time earlier, but since I am a believer in Divine timing, I guess there is a perfect reason in the greater scheme of things. When I became aware that she lived locally (to me here in South Australia), I knew that experiencing her work directly was quite feasible and that had me pretty darn excited.
Since then, I've been patiently waiting for the stars to align and for India to facilitate a workshop locally at the beloved Poet's Ode. Last Sunday, March 6th, was ripe for the galactic line-up to happen and I made my way to the gorgeous Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf. It was a full-day workshop immersed in the creating of The One-Day Dress. And what a day it was!
We were each given a small draw string bag containing two metres of Silky Merino tubing (I think it was 90% Merino, 10% Silk). I can wholeheartedly say that this fabric is the most divine to work with. It is SO forgiving with a drape that effortlessly falls and floats over your body. I made up my design as I was cutting (completely out of character for my Capricorn self!) and had we used cotton or hemp or probably even linen, these would likely have not fallen the same way and I'd have ended up with a potato sack. Undoubtedly there would have been bulk in all the wrong places, even though I'm no textile expert.
To date, this was most definitely the easiest method of dyeing using plant materials that I have encountered. There was no preparing the fabric prior and we took our measurements using lengths of string! I LOVE that! Not a tape measure in sight and India is so right when she says that tape measures lack the flexibility to bend and shape themselves to our bodies. The string it is! Plus, India mentioned about being dyslexic and therefore numbers run the risk of playing switcheroo, which as you can imagine would create a little havoc. I also am mildly dyslexic (plus all of my sisters but being a teacher, Mum recognised it early and gave us special exercises. These days it is only more pronounced when I'm tired). Anyway, I too have always been very challenged with numbers and measurements so am loving the string! Thank you India for that tip, by the way.
So, with no fabric prep, we began with a little inspiration and demonstration and then it was time to get sculpting our dresses. Each of us created something so different from one another and it was such fun to play with this freedom and appreciate our individual creative process. Even though I'm calling my dress 'finished', there is a strong possibility I may stitch a couple of secret tiny words of love within the folds and maybe even add a few more tucks around the bottom raw edge?
Once cut and stitched - I used the silk / cotton tapestry thread provided by India and worked with a running stitch - it was time to bundle them up. The idea with bundling is to sandwich the plant materials within the folded layers of fabric. Then you bind it up very, very tightly so the fabric presses firmly against the leaves etc. Once wrapped, it's into the dye pot and time to relax while the magic happens.
I worked in a completely free-form and experimental way. I chose my plant materials randomly and scattered them upon my dress equally so. The knowledge and wisdom India holds has me in awe. There is a definite science behind the process but understanding that science was not my objective for the day so I have little to pass on in that area. I do know that after so many years of experience, India is able to plan and predict her results to a degree. She knows which Eucalypts will produce what colours and how the addition of an old iron horseshoe will alter the results. She also knows that if she goes collecting certain leaves after a rainfall, the chemistry within the leaf has been affected by that moisture (and possibly temperature change) and will therefore produce a differing effect, likewise with the seasons. Now that's a connection and bond with Mother Nature and Mother Earth that fills my heart and beyond.
I also made the purchase of a tunic-style dress top - an India Flint original hehe. It's rather amazing and absolutely beautiful and I have it on right now as I type. I wore it yesterday too and maybe I'll wear it tomorrow and the next day? I know that between the top I'm wearing and my new dress I've made, those two garments will have to alternate turns in being washed because they are absolute wardrobe staples. The styling options for this dress are endless. Dress it up, dress it down, layers, belted, tights and boots or Birkenstocks? When I'm wearing either of these garments, not only is the comfort value off the charts, but the Earth tones and leaf prints make me feel as though I'm wrapped up within Mother Earth herself. Her soil, her fallen leaves, her softened twigs and bark, it feels like the most healing hug of all.
Oh, and on that note... thank you for my hug, India (I love a hug!), and thank you so much for sharing your beauty. See you next time xo