Featured Artist: Hilary Hahn, Shibori Artist and Textile Designer
As a creative business owner, I often stress the importance of surrounding yourself with other types of artists. It’s good to create an inspiring community around you that will keep you moving when you start to doubt yourself.
Whenever I get stuck or discouraged, I just reach out to one of these artist friends and immediately get excited to get back to work!
I think it’s also really important to always be learning new techniques and improving your skills, whether those relate to your business or not! So with that being said, I wanted to introduce an inspiring artist that I’ve come across while living in La.
Her name is Hilary Hahn and she is also a textile artist, but her expertise is in Shibori (indigo dyeing). Or as I like to call it….blue tie dye :) (call me a child of the 80’s).
Hilary was nice enough to let me pester her with some questions and lay out a little bit about her process for you!
So without further ado, here’s Hilary:
Ok, so a little bit about me. I’m a California textile designer and artist. I spend most of the week in my home studio designing products and the rest of the time outdoors in my garden dyeing them.
We recently bought a house, and this Spring, I am working on my dye garden, growing the indigo and other dyes, where I host outdoors workshops in Natural Indigo and Shibori. My background in fine art and interior design informs the process.
So what is Shibori?
Shibori is the art of binding, then dyeing fabric that dates back to 8th century Japan.
How did you get started in Shibori?
I got started with indigo super spontaneously. The painter part of me had always hoped to create organic patterns on fabric, especially when I was working on interiors. I was not a huge fan of digitally printed fabrics and loved how with Shibori, the folding creates the repeat. Also, the results can be organic and the dye completely penetrates the fabric. I love dyeing natural fibers too!
What is your creative process like when you start out on a new project or get an idea?
Before I make something, I usually am thinking about it first. I’m thinking about it and imagining what it will look like. Often, I design something where I see a gap in the market - something I'd really like but can’t find.
I might use an inspiration board or do some sketches by hand. I have 2 projects like this that are coming out really soon.
For one, I have been working with a pattern maker to get the style perfected. Then, I create the surface designs in indigo to be used in the actual product. Each piece, is truly hand-made in the indigo vat.
Generally, I like to create a sample, then test it first. Since the work of hand dyeing is so labor intensive, I feel like it is a good idea to get an idea of what people will love and what they will be interested in.
Any chance I get to interact with my customer, whether it’s via Instagram, a pop-up event or even a Shibori workshop gives me a lot of valuable information about what products they need in their lives, love and respond to.
Is blue your favorite color? :)
Yes! I would have to say blue and green. Green is my longtime favorite and indigo in interiors is something that I really enjoy. It almost acts as a neutral because it goes with everything.
I also read that indigo has a deeper meaning with relation to the chakra system in the body. Some believe that indigo represents the third eye, which connects us to our unconscious self, which relates to intuition and imagination. So for me, indigo is a creative color truly!
What resist technique is your favorite? And what kind of design does it make?
Some of my favorite pieces that I have made are using stitched Shibori. This involves stitching into fabric and pulling up the stitches to create a pattern. Once the stitches are removed, little organically shaped dots appear along the line.
Lately, I’ve also been drawn to Kumo Shibori, which involves binding the fabric around a center circle or shape. The pattern which emerges can be spiral or web like.
How do you wash Shibori fabric without ruining it or other things in the machine?
Haha ;) I always wash my indigo pieces with like colors or on their own. With anything naturally dyed, I prefer the gentle cycle or hand-washing. For the most part once the indigo oxidizes it does not bleed, yet each piece does require a thorough rinse before using.
What is the coolest thing that has happened from running your own creative business?
It’s hard to choose only one! One of my favorite things is hosting private Indigo and Shibori workshops. It’s super exciting to see and share my love of Shibori with groups of creative like-minded people.
Some memorable workshops include, a rooftop indigo dye session for a tech company, a retreat-like workshop at a vineyard in Malibu, and a private lesson to celebrate a group of life-long friends. Designers, doctors, actors, and even a Disney Imagineer all have taken my Shibori class.
What is the hardest part of running your business, and how have you gotten through it?
For me, I think the hardest part of running my business is the inconsistency. Over the past few years, business has ebbed and mostly flowed. Some months might be really huge and busy!
One thing, that I am currently exploring is how to make business more consistent while freeing up some creative time. I'm in the process of writing my first online Shibori course to help with those times, where I might be focusing more in studio on the creation of a new product. It's a huge balancing act.
Thanks Hilary for chatting with us and teaching us a little about your world!
You can find more about Hilary here, and click below to grab her free list of Shibori supplies to get started!