One of our dreams here at LA Relaxed was to be able to work with natural and botanical dyes at a scalable level. When we connected with Liz Of Silk and Stems, an Idaho-based botanical dyer, we knew it was time. We asked Liz about her journey and process.
Q: How did you first get into botanicals?
A: I first began working with flowers at the age of 17 in Boise, Idaho when I landed a job at a flower shop. I then moved to a friend’s flower shop and eventually opened up my own floral business in my hometown.
Q: What was the impetus for Silk and Stems?
After being open for a short time at my brick and mortar, I met the love of my life and we moved to Twin Falls, Idaho where we were fortunate to give birth to our son in February 2020, right before the pandemic hit Idaho. I wanted to be able to work and have a creative outlet that involved my passion, botanicals, while still being able to care for my son full time.
Q: Was it a challenge to move from floral work into dyeing?
A: After getting inspired by some talented artists on Instagram, I thought I might try my hand. I invested in pots, natural dyes, tongs, an electric burner, online courses and books to eventually (after trial and error) create an at-home business that that functions along with my current life.
Q: What natural plants and botanicals do you like to work with?
A: Some of my favorite natural dyes to work with are Red Pine bark, Chestnut, Black Walnut hull, Onion skins, Acorn, Black Tea, Quebracho and Indigo, although there are still so many I have yet to explore. Eco printing is another beautiful method where I use Coreopsis, Cosmos, Black-Eyed Susan, Goldenrod, Marigold, and other flowers grown organically in my garden to capture the flower’s beauty onto fabric forever using a bundle & steaming process.
A: The process of dyeing with plants, flowers and even bugs (cochineal) is that of one which requires much patience and time.
Each garment undergoes scouring (heating fabric in pot with water and natural detergent to clear oils, dirt, etc.) an hour to two of mordanting (which will help the color bind to the fabric) and then finally brewing in a vat with the dyestuff.
I usually also will run it through a quick cycle in the wash without any detergent just to rinse out excess dye. The masterpiece hangs to dry, and finally it is ready for wear.
Click here to explore each one of a kind wearable art piece.