Natural dye is a complex topic, involving history, economics, chemistry, agriculture, the arts, social issues and entrepreneurship. Through the Natural Dye Initiative, we are bringing together scholars and practitioners from our region and from across the world to share expertise and knowledge with each other, with the MICA community, with project partners and the public. We are also creating new partnerships between students and local designers to collaboratively craft fashions that honor sustainable practices and explore the potential of natural dyes on cloth.
SCHOLARS & PRACTITIONERS
Through virtual visits over the internet to classroom discussions, the following scholars, artists, designers and practitioners have shared their expertise and knowledge with members of the MICA community, with the public and with partners collaborating on the project.
Donna Brown is a fiber artist from Denver, Colorado. A natural dyer who loves the colors created by nature, she has over 30 years of natural-dyeing and teaching experience in venues across the U.S. and abroad, including Penland School of Crafts and John C. Campbell Folk School. She is the former owner of the Dyeworks, a natural-dye company. Donna is an active Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms volunteer who helped start the Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden. Donna met with members of the Natural Dye as Intercultural Connector course over the internet, including with our dye farmers, to share tips and insights about farming, processing and storing natural dye plants. Visit instagram #jfmdyegarden and growingadyegarden.wordpress.com for more information.
Catharine Ellis has been a weaver and dyer for over 40 years. After three decades of teaching the Fiber Program at Haywood Community College in N.C., she is now dedicated to studio work, focusing on natural dye processes. She also does specialized, selected teaching, and is the author of several books, including The Art and Science of Natural Dye, co-authored with chemist Joy Boutroup. Catharine visited the Natural Dye as Intercultural Connector class to share her studio research process and reflect on lessons learned from working with natural dyes, including maintaining an organic indigo vat. Catharine also gave a public lecture at MICA in April 2019 called “Natural Dyes: Why Now?” Visit www.ellistextiles.com for more information.
Kathy Hattori is the founder and president of Botanical Colors and markets natural dyes to artisans and industrial clients seeking a sustainable natural color palette. She is a recognized authority on natural dyes and pigments and commercial applications using natural dyes and has worked in the field since 2003. Kathy developed numerous commercial processes using natural dye extracts in the industrial textile environment. She consults and advises companies on their natural dye implementation strategies and has worked with the largest natural dye houses in the US. Kathy teaches and lectures about natural dyes and is sought after as a speaker about the status of natural dyes in global textile production. Kathy met with members of the Natural Dye as Intercultural Connector class via a virtual visit in Spring 2019 to answer questions and engage in dialogue about the future of natural dyes in commercial applications, the sustainable sourcing of dye stuff, the use of food waste as a source of color, and about the complexity of natural dye histories. Visit botanicalcolors.com for more information.
Eric Jackson is the founder and servant-director of Black Yield Institute, a Pan-African institution in Baltimore focused on building community power and establishing Black Land and Food sovereignty. Eric visited the Natural Dye as Intercultural Connector class to talk about the work of Black Yield, to reflect on the need for access to healthy food and control of land for poor communities, to share reflections on organizing for social change, and to engage in critical dialogue about the urgency and challenges of undertaking transformational work in a society shaped by racism and inequality. Visit www.blackyieldinstitute.org for more information.
Caprece Ann Jackson
Caprece Ann Jackson is the principal founder and owner of Bonneau Caprece LLC, a strategic marketing, P.R., fine arts programming and event production company. Caprece has produced a myriad of events, P.R. campaigns, curated installations and staged productions throughout her 35+ year career.
Caprece is the creator and curator of “Fashion Comes To Light” Collective, a performance art production featuring wearable concepts integrated with light technologies and reflective materials. Caprece also founded the Fashion Marketplace at Artscape and curates fashion-centered events in Baltimore. Some career highlights include covering the Paris and Milan Collections as a Paris-based journalist, staffing the launch team of ELLE Magazine’s U.S. Edition; serving as press secretary for the Baltimore City Council, and producing events for the Living Classrooms’ Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. The original “Happy I’m Nappy” button she developed and marketed nationally is now on permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture.
Caprece is an advisor to MICA on the independent fashion community in Baltimore and helped to connect several local designers to the Natural Dye Initiative.
Natural Dyeing Culture Center
The Natural Dyeing Culture Center in South Korea was established in 2006 and is managed by the Naju City Natural Dyeing Cultural Foundation. The organization has the following goals:
Preservation, Education, and Industrialization of Korean textile traditions and techniques for the community and to support economic development through fiber art exhibitions, an annual natural dyeing festival, and job training through the Natural Dye Instructor's Certificate program. The Natural Dyeing Culture Center is located in Naju City, Jeolla Province, one of the central places in South Korea for textile culture and history. Naju's geographic location on the Yeongsan River provides a perfect environment, including plenty of water, fertile soil, and a warm and humid climate, beneficial for weaving silk and natural dyeing. "Jjok" (a.k.a Asian Indigo, Polygonum tinctorium) dyeing is one of the most deep-rooted well-known dyeing cultures in the city. The traditional Jjok dyeing has been practiced and preserved by Yoon, Byung-yun and Jeong, Kwan-chae who are registered as the national important intangible cultural property No. 115 Yeongsan River artisans by the South Korean government. For more information, visit http://www.
Neighborhood Fiber Company
Neighborhood Fiber Company, founded by Karida Collins, is a Baltimore-based, hand-dyed yarn company featuring vibrant, one-of-a-kind colors inspired by urban landscapes. In addition to its selection of yarns and knitting supplies, the company hosts classes and workshops with visiting artists. For more information, visit www.neighborhoodfiberco.com.
Rowland Ricketts utilizes natural dyes and historical processes to create contemporary textiles that span art and design. Trained in indigo farming and dyeing in Japan, Rowland received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2005 and is currently associate dean of Indiana University’s Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design. Rowland and his partner Chimani grow and process their own indigo into sukumo using a traditional Japanese composting method. Rowland also maintains a natural dye garden with Fibers faculty and students at Indiana University. Rowland generously shared his knowledge of growing, harvesting and processing indigo and natural dyes via a virtual visit with students in Natural Dye as Intercultural Connector. Visit www.rickettsindigo.com for more information.
Winona Quigley is the founder and CEO of Green Matters Natural Dye Company in Gap, PA. Winona grew up in Lancaster County. She has a degree in Fashion Design from Parsons the New School for Design. After 3 years of working for various luxury fashion houses in New York City, Winona found her career in harvesting color and researching sustainable systems. She loves gardening, especially growing dye plants. In 4 years of running Green Matters, she has grown her dye pot from a 3 gallon soup pot in a tiny kitchen, to a 100 lbs capacity industrial dye machine. Members of the Baltimore Natural Dye Initiative team visited Winona in the Summer of 2019 to tour the Green Matters dye house and learn about her unique experience working in small scale production, which she generously shared. For more information, visit www.greenmattersnaturaldyecompany.com.
COLLABORATING ARTISTS & DESIGNERS
The following artists and designers are engaged in collaborative learning about natural dyes with members of the MICA community. Their work will be featured in events and exhibitions in the Spring of 2020.
The African American Quilters of Baltimore (AAQB) was founded in 1989 by three African American quilters seeking the community of other African American quilters. Their primary goal was to offer support and information for African American quilters in an environment of acceptance and welcome. Since that time, the group has grown in size and diversity and includes quilters of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. In addition, its members participate in projects in schools, libraries and museums in keeping with our “Each One, Teach One” philosophy. Since 2016, the AAQB has worked with members of the MICA Fiber Department on a weekly “Quilt Group” that collaboratively crafts quilts to raffle off for student scholarships. Current President Glenda Richardson and long-time member Rosalind Robinson will be the central collaborators in the Natural Dye Initiative. For more information, visit https://aaqb.org.
Bishme Cromartie, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, was 8 years old when he started sketching his designs. He learned the basics of sewing while spending the summer with his aunt, and after graduating to a sewing machine, began making clothes for friends and family. Since the creation of his clothing line, his bold yet streamlined garments have earned him international acclaim. Vogue declared that his clothing “sculpts and celebrates a woman’s body,” he was a highly regarded contestant on Project Runway Season 17, and he has dressed such clients as Andra Day, Dascha Polanco, Karrueche Tran, and Niecy Nash. His mission as a Black designer is to encourage self-expression, advocate for representation, and shatter the expectations for people of color. His goal is to continue opening doors for all people of color and for his designs to inspire those who may not see themselves in the fashion industry. Visit bishmecromartie.com for more information. (Photo by Glenford Nunez.)
Born in Washington DC, Sehar Peerzada operates from her studios in Baltimore, MD and Lahore, Pakistan. She designs and produces a unique brand of clothing, which is often hand clock printed with her own patterns. Sehar seeks to flatter the figure with inspiration from traditional, international fashion sources, which she blends to create a palatable cultural hybrid. An alumnus of Howards University and Rhode Island School of Design, Sehar studied eastern cuts and block printing in Pakistan and Morocco. Sehar's clothing line has been carried in stores such as Nordstrom, Densua’s African Treasures in Macy’s, Toast and Strawberries and Zawadi in Washington, D.C., Maja and Sankofa in Baltimore and many others. Saher's talent as a costumer led to work with the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, Sweet Honey In The Rock, The In Series Opera, The New York Fringe, The San Francisco Bay Area Theater Company and others. Sehar's press includes newspapers and magazine such as the Washington Times, The Washington Post, Afro American News, Black Elegance, Dubai Times, Pakistani Glamour, Ebony and more. Visit www.seharpeerzada.com or @seharpeerzada on Instagram for more information.
Iliana Quander is an independent women's clothing designer, artist and educator based in NYC. She creates one-of-a-kind and custom clothing for women and retails at Sohung Designs boutique in Manhattan and other boutiques in the NYC area. She served as Sustainability Director for the BK Style Foundation, the non-profit arm of the organization that produces Fashion Week Brooklyn (FWBK). She has taught Clothing Reconstruction at FIT and summer fashion camp for children in Brooklyn, NY. Her areas of expertise include visual art, fashion design, sustainability in design, zero waste techniques for designers and clothing reconstruction. Ms. Quander has also organized and participated in shows in the NYC area including BK Style Foundation's Fashion Week Brooklyn, NAFI/Youthlink benefit gala, EcoFashion in the Park, and Fountain Art Fair. She was one of several sustainable designers featured in the independent film “SustainUp” by Dr. Iris Mohr. Ms. Quander has done on-site tailoring for the fashion and entertainment industries including clients like Vogue, Target, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Chloe, Harper’s Bazaar, Sean John, Duro Olowu, Kate Spade, and many other companies, stylists and celebrities.
Stacy Stube is an Indonesian-American fashion designer based in Bali, Indonesia and Baltimore, Maryland. In 2013, inspired by Balinese craftsmanship and vintage elegance, Stube established the Elsa Fitzgerald fashion house. She spent 20-years working in the luxury fashion sectors in the US, Europe and Asia for brands such as Burberry, Alexander McQueen, and Hugo Boss. Stacy holds a Masters of Arts in Fashion Entrepreneurship from the London College of Fashion. Stube is committed to the craftsmanship and heritage of fine needlework and strives to ensure that the beauty of industry flourishes stateside through modern times. For more information, visit www.elsafitzgerald.com.
Colby Ware is a Baltimore-based photographer. He is collaborating with MICA on capturing the curricular work around the Baltimore Natural Dye Initiative. Most of the photographs related to the project shared on this site were captured by Colby. For more information, visit: www.colbyware.com.