Everywhere you look today, there seems to be an explosion of tie-dye. I say seems, because the vast majority of these garments are mass-produced, screen-printed or digitally printed patterns and colors that have nothing to do with the true hand made originality that a tie-dye possesses. These garments are an oxymoron in the very nature of calling them tie-dyes.
Tie-dye uses a technique of twisting, folding, crumpling and other ways of bunching up fabric and then binding it using string, rubber bands, clips or other means to hold it together. This gathering and binding of the fabric causes parts of the piece to absorb or not absorb the same amount of dye as other parts. This is what gives tie-dye the unique and one-of-a-kind patterns found on each individual work of art. True tie-dye is never reproduced because each and every piece has its own subtle differences that are just like the fingerprint on your hand.
History tells us that as long as people have been wearing fabrics, they have been dying them. Some of the earliest surviving “tie-dye” is pre-Columbian Peruvian from 500–810 AD. Their designs were lines and small circles that used natural bright hues and green for colors. The Japanese style of Shibori has been around since the 8th century. It consists of an elaborate way of tying because it uses stitching to tightly gather fabric into elaborate patterns that are true works of art. Shibori also uses objects such as smooth stones or sticks or tubes to tie around and create many more simple and elegant patterns. Its beauty is in its simplicity and the use of Indigo as the exclusive dye reinforces that. These are examples of the many techniques that blend to make up what we now call tie-dye. It is an incorporation of many styles and color combinations from psychedelic to subdued and understated that gives us the wide palate to use in our creations.
That is why tie-dye is better. It uses the creativity and inspiration that only an artist can put onto the canvas of fabric in an organic and freeing flow of pattern and color that results in the unique and original creation that results. Anyone can do tie-dye, but true artistic creations are the result of an understanding of pattern and color and using that to make one-of-a-kind pieces that are truly individual. If you want to have something that no other person in the world has, a true handcrafted tie-dye is just that. Something as individual as the person who wears it!
I just spent two weeks in Telluride where tie-dyes are trending. I was a big hit because of my Goforth original.