Flower-Dyeing Silk with Uye Surana


The loveliness of our bodies has often been framed through the natural world- namely, with flowers. Call us fauna in the flora. 
The works of Georgia O'Keeffe and Gustav Klimt are prime examples of this, as warm skin mirrors the soft petals of beautiful flowers; aging just as they do,  blushing just as they do, folding and bowing just as they do. It would make perfect sense, then, that this same principle would align these two ends of the natural world through the clothing we wear. 

  Now, a few months ago, I got to see this first hand as I had the pleasure of stepping into the Uye Surana showroom/studio to see how their silk takes one of the first steps towards becoming lingerie, and even try it out for myself. Designer & founder Monica Wesley walked me through her process for dyeing the wildflower silk she uses for her watercolor-y speckled pieces.

Because Uye Surana's pieces are made with a lean towards what preserves resources and remains cohesive, nothing is wasted and everything is made by hand. So on a late summer afternoon, after walking through her small studio, Monica took me over to her table and opened a few bags of dried wildflowers: bright yellow chamomile and nasturtium buds, fuchsia hibiscus and lavender, rose petals in many shades of pink and purple- the sweet smell from the petals danced with the steam coming from a bubbling cauldron by the door- The use of which I would find out later.

Because fabric scraps taken from laser cutting are used and not wasted, Monica had some oblong white sections of silk for our dyeing exercise. After laying each piece out flat, we sprinkled the flower petals onto the silk like fallen confetti, letting everything mingle nicely. Each be-speckled piece was then carefully rolled into a bundle, and secured with rubber bands.

The silk bundles were then gentle placed over a boiling pot of water and vinegar and steamed so that the color of the flowers would seep and stain the fabric without washing it away. After letting each bundle dry, we're left with a lovely piece of fabric strewn with pretty speckles.

Here's how mine turned out. Monica usually keeps her flowers grouped by similar color-ways, so by mixing the rose petals and chrysanthemum, I was experimenting a little bit.

And boom! The silk pieces are magically (well, meticulously) crafted into panels with nylon lace and mesh- huzzah!

Just before I made this post, Uye Surana sent over pieces made with our wildflower silk: the Claire bra & panty! I nearly passed out from sheer honor when they referred me to the site to see the name of the design. You can see it in the outrageously beautiful rose and slipper, and here in black too.

It's important to keep in mind that small lingerie lines like Uye Surana keep a craft tradition alive. Lingerie is painstakingly difficult to make because tiny details require nimble fingers and attention to detail. These pieces are simple, comfortable, with even the small details there- and much appreciated.



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