The purpose of this collection was to explore natural dyes from trees on various yarns for use in hand woven and machine knitted textiles. Shapes and color gradients from trees inspired the application of dye to yarn as well as the textile and garment designs.
The first time I visited an arboretum it was a sultry June day in Kansas. I remember standing under the shade of the canopy and being astounded by the incredible diversity of trees. Not only were native Kansas trees thriving there but also a range of species from around the world, adding to the complex ecosystem found amongst the timber.
Greatly inspired by that experience and from observing various trees in the Flint Hills of Kansas, I set out to create color, motifs, textile designs, and garment silhouettes inspired by an Arboretum. All of the dye color came from trees, both of North American origin (Osage orange, Black Walnut, and Eastern Redcedar, Chestnut, Peach and Apple trees) and exotic (Logwood, Sandalwood, Cutch, and Quebracho). Yarns colored from these dyewoods were used to hand weave and machine knit various pieces within the collection. The process for creating each handwoven and machine knitted textile was slow and methodical, building them yarn by yarn, much like the growth rings contained within a tree. Small crystal beads were added to several textiles representing the beads of sap often found on tree trunks. Silks used on the garments were bundled and steamed with Apple and Peach leaves or dyed a solid color with walnut and manipulated with iron and screen printing with thickened cutch dye.
We walk amongst trees every day seeing their colorful leaves and textured bark, yet rarely consider the color that lies within the leaf, bark, hardwood, or root. My intention for the collection was to express through textiles, reverence for a common plant species that provides a remarkable range of textile dyes.