For Audrey Louise Reynolds, there wasn’t a particular point where she decided to devote her career to hand-dying textiles. She says, “It was never a decision; it was just always an undeniable part of how I exist. I think it’s rooted in being such an alive, curious, fearless child who was completely unaware of mess or what that was or why it would be upsetting to have the earth all over you.” As a child, she would roam around exploring and evening her previously white clothes were covered in the day’s adventures. She jokes, “My mother should have bought stock in the maker of the Shout Clean product.”
Of course, it wasn’t all accidental. Many of Audrey’s adventures were about purposefully altering her clothing — and her Barbie’s! — as well. “I would buy plain sweatshirts, iron on materials, puffy paint, bedazzle supplies, and dyes to make these insane outfits. I was too young to use the iron, so my mother helped with the ironing under my art direction. She always had supplies for me to dye and make and create and making something white turn to color just always seemed so desirable. Thanks Momma!”
On one hand, all the experimentation and creation has clearly influenced her path as a designer, but Audrey also realized a downside to her childhood fun. Reflecting on early memories of dying her ballet shoes to match performance costumes, a required task for all the young dancers, Audrey worries “Me being me, I was covered in chemical dyes like RIT. Not to mention when you’re done dyeing your shoes, where do you dump these active chemicals? I want everyone to be able to create harmlessly at no adverse reaction to themselves during the process or to the earth after the process.”
Because even many traditional dyeing methods include caustic materials, Audrey’s dyes are the result of years of experimentation with richly saturated materials, inspired by the mud stains her mother struggled to remove. Made of ingredients including Himalayan sea salt, rose petals, burnt vines, and turmeric, Audrey uses her dyes to make both a limited collection of clothing available on her website and in the many custom projects she creates. She also sells the dyes themselves, hoping that more designers will have access to sustainable, healthy dyes and that more individuals will be inspired to create for themselves.
See Audrey’s current collection in the slideshow!