The Journal

by (re)vision society

A colourful conversation with Audrey Louise Reynolds

A colourful conversation… with Audrey Louise Reynolds

Audrey with cauldron photographed by Mike Vorrasi

Our world full of color is a simple phenomenon in itself. Each day, and every moment of each day, shows us new hues of saturated beauty.

It’s no wonder we wish to recreate the color around us. But ironically, as we practice this activity of recreating our colorful world, we end up deteriorating the very nature of the color’s origin—our natural earth—in the process.

We thought this was the case, at least, until we came across Audrey Louise Reynolds’s work. Her natural dyes are the exact colors we see in nature, with no need for inundated manipulation of synthetics. Audrey forages on water and land in search of enlightening elements that she can directly extract color from, which are then used to transform a garment into a work of art.

We were in awe of her oeuvre of pure pigments.

At (re)vision society, we are fortunate to meet incredible and ingenious individuals who think differently—think creatively—about the bigger picture of our lives and our world. Audrey Louise Reynolds is one of those very special creators. Pure in character, just like her work, we asked Audrey to tell us more the work and inspiration behind her exceptional natural dyes.

Charcoal and spoon in Audrey’s hand photographed by John Huba

(re)vision society: How often do you go searching for color in nature?

Audrey Louise Reynolds: Every time I leave my house. I have a few spots I stop by daily where I’ve been dropping seeds over the years for easy foraging.

RS: What is your favorite natural product to extract color from and why?

ALR: Hmmm there are so many good ones. Probably Squid….their ink. The ink is a defense mechanism so they can disappear into a self-issued cloud and get away from a predator. That’s pretty dang cool.

RS: We are amazed by the sustainable aspects behind your work. Can you share with us how your dyes and extraction methods differ from conventional dyeing techniques?

ALR: Conventional dyes—although cost efficient, provide consistent even color and are scalable—are often really poisonous and sometimes even carcinogenic. These dyes aren’t only a risk to the lives of the workers who use them during the process, but after dyeing our clothes the leftover chemical dyes are often released back into the earth, polluting the earth. It doesn’t stop there. When you’re wearing the garment and abrading the fabric or sweating into the fabric you are also absorbing the chemicals from the dye into your bloodstream. Just because this issue has yet to be correctly regulated doesn’t make it any less real.

I started my company in hopes of building something that could offer an alternative to these means of production. As an alternative, the dyes I’ve spent the last ten years developing are not only nontoxic, but are mostly made up of edible-grade materials. The dyes are sustainable, compostable, biodegradable and sometimes even edible. In addition, I take it a level further and add in ingredients that may not change the color, but are beneficial to your health. So if in turn you were to absorb these into your bloodstream, it would in theory have positive effects.

Also, we believe in zero waste so you won’t find a huge excess on our site. In fact our motto is ‘create harmlessly’. Everything is from the earth, so that way if there is waste and it goes back to the earth, it’s ok.

RS: The designers at (re)vision society have noted that their greatest challenge is that they can only be as sustainable as the materials they have access to. Do you find this to be a similar challenge as a colorist?

ALR: I had such a similar struggle that it triggered me to start a company that would create and supply sustainable production materials for all companies and makers to use, so they, too, can create harmlessly. I think an all-natural art supply company alternative is so necessary for adults and children.

RS: Nature is an apparent muse in your work, and your products seem both pure and phenomenal because of it. But aside from nature, what else inspires you?

ALR: People! I’m currently working with Jigsaw in London to create a line of really beautiful sustainable garments. Every person that works there is amazing and inspiring. The story of the founder is wonderful and inspiring. The project we are doing together is inspiring!

One of the things we will be doing together is natural dyeing with Baird Mcnutt in Ireland, with earth local to the UK. It’s the first time that my custom engineered colors from local ingredients will run in a factory dye machine. We took on this task together to bring a really great small carbon footprint locally produced supporting an amazing linen mill to create a top of the line luxury garment for the amazing Jigsaw customer. We hit stores April 2016 and I can’t wait to share it with you all because we are hoping this collection will inspire you.

RS: What a cool project! And you mentioned something importantthe people behind Jigsaw. What characteristic do you respect in people working to make a positive impact on the world?

ALR: There’s a certain attitude I find that most people who live everyday working toward a better world have a never-give-upness, a sense of responsibility, often humble.

RS: We believe that our environment is such a critical aspect to the work we produce. What is your favorite feature about your work studio?

ALR: It’s full of colorful, dried things from all around the whole world in one room. I can stand in the middle of everything—it’s an amazing feeling.

RS: The concept of sustainability can often be a bit heavy for people to take in. Can you share any perspective on the idea of sustainability being an achievable lifestyle choice?

ALR: It’s not heavy. It just is. Deal with it. Be good to the earth, make a difference, leave each place better than you found it. It’s pretty simple. We live clean and we can all live longer and with less impact. I think that’s pretty cool. It should make you happy to do these things, find joy in not being a mass consumer polluter every time you make a conscious decision to buy the better product.

RS: If you could (re)vision a part of the world, what would it be?

ALR: The thing I wake up and work on everyday: sustainable production!

 

Audrey’s boots and dyed snow photographed by Jessica Malafouris

Audrey and Sadie on bench photographed by Dan McMahon

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