Stephanie Callaghan - Natural dyed linens

Stephanie Callaghan, Natural Dye

WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN, HOW DID YOU START?

Me & My Bloomers was started in 2017 when we realised we had a love for all things botanical. We had just spent the summer working on an Italian lavender farm and the passion witnessed there sparked something within us. Initially leading us into event floristry, there was always a dream to one day create our own line of products.

Since then, introducing products to Me & My Bloomers has been a journey of exploring how to create items that are sustainable and that always tie back to nature. It's this that really inspired me to develop the practice of naturally dying and with us being in lockdown, it has allowed me more time to develop and experiment. I feel it’s now become part of my daily routine, whether it’s collecting materials, prepping, dying, cutting or sewing fabric.

WHICH MATERIALS WERE YOU FIRST DRAWN TO, AND HOW HAS THAT SHIFTED OVER TIME?
I was firstly drawn to using things like avocado and onion skins, it was the idea of using something that you’d normally throw away, giving it a new life has always appealed to me. As I continue to experiment I’m using flowers, fallen tree bark, leaves, learning what works and also what doesn’t.

HOW DOES THE PROCESS MAKE YOU FEEL, HAS IT CHANGED THE WAY YOU SEE PLANTS?
The process can take 2 days, from preparing the fabric to preparing the dye pot and adding your fabric, it can’t be rushed, you need to take your time and with that you need to slow down and be calm. Which is the total opposite of my life as a florist, where often we are rushing around on tight deadlines.

With these two contrasts, both working with plant materials, I have loved being able to slow down and appreciate them in a different way, not always their external beauty but going deeper to see what could be inside.

HOW DO THE SEASONS AFFECT YOUR PRACTICE, AND DAY TO DAY, NOT JUST IN YOUR WORK AND ART, BUT IN YOUR OWN ROUTINES AND PHYSICALLY TOO?
With each new season comes access to new materials, for example, I’m now collecting rosehips to make pale peachy tones. There’s a sense of making the most of each season, especially with flowers, whether it’s through capturing the colour or pressing, I feel I’m always trying to hold onto them in particular.

IS THERE A MOMENT IN THE PROCESS YOU LOVE THE MOST?

The best bit for me is removing the fabric from the dye pot and seeing the outcome. Sometimes it’s not gone to plan and the colour isn’t quite what you had in mind, but more often than not it’s still beautiful and it just pushes you to find another use for that colour.

WHAT ARE YOU EXCITED TO TRY NEXT, DO YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER TIRE OF EXPERIMENTING WITH NEW MATERIALS?
I’m always daydreaming of the next things we can make, one that I’m currently most excited about is a selection of hand dyed Irish linen dressing gowns, they will hopefully be ready in November.

I don’t see myself growing tired of dying or working with natural materials, there is so much more to try and learn, I feel like I’m just at the beginning of the journey.

WHERE DO YOU TAKE INSPIRATION FROM OUTSIDE OF NATURE, DID YOU LEARN FROM ANYBODY AT ALL, IS THERE A COMMUNITY YOU FEEL A PART OF?
I’ve learnt most of what I know about dying from books and experimenting. Once you know the basics it’s just about trial and error.

This year has been a real shift for us from floristry to focussing on products. I still feel really drawn to my florist community and because this time has been quite a solitary one, I’m just starting to find my feet in the world of makers and shop owners. I’m so grateful to those for welcoming me in.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO WITH PLANTS?

We use natural linen and natural dyes all from plants. I feel as people we need to be supporting the businesses providing more sustainable options, the value is in the love and time that went into creating each piece, the hours of research into how to be better and kinder to the planet.

www.meandmybloomers.co.uk/

Date

Making flowers

[food, farming, art, work] better