Hole & Corner x Vince natural dye workshops with Lola Lely
We were delighted to host a creative and colour-filled evening with Vince and Lola Lely, natural dyer and multi-disciplinary artist as the much-needed antidote to the stresses of Christmas shopping.
Lola Lely is a designer who thinks differently about everything she does, whether it’s applying the principles of boro embroidery to woodwork, patching together the scrap wood that might usually be discarded, or twisting the natural dye process to use a range of mordants to create different tones, texture and intensity of colour on a square of silk. Lely is a longterm Hole & Corner collaborator and was introduced by the magazine’s founder Sam Walton. The first Vince store in Europe was the perfect backdrop for this workshop, with plenty of inspiration in the considered collection of ceramics, art work and art books that reflect the brand’s dedication to craft and rare attention to detail and fine quality.
London-based designer/maker Lely has been experimenting with a range of different mordants, including iron, copper, and even urine and their effect on natural dyes to create what she describes as ‘an infinite colour spectrum’. The results of her experiments were displayed at the Aram Gallery in London during the summer, when she produced 275 colours produced from just seven dye plants. For her workshop tailored specially for Hole & Corner, Lely created a workshop that allowed participants to play with a range of mordants to create an Anni Albers style pattern (‘to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus movement’) using a range of mordants to create contrasting, graphic patterns.
Lely’s colour palette was carefully developed to complement Vince’s autumn/winter collection of knits and luxurious separates in deep plum, vibrant berry, rich blues and soft earthy tones. ‘It’s a lazy way of creating pattern and colour at the same time,’ says Lely, dressed in her trademark apron, which she says is symbolic as much as practical as it embodies the ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi – accepting imperfections and transience. She explained that the word mordant comes from the French mordre which means ‘to bite’. The solutions she makes from different metals and minerals, including alum, and rhubarb leaf, have the effect of simultaneously colouring and fixing the colour.
Using masking tape in a range of widths, guests masked out their patterns and painted their choice of mordants on the exposed fabric. Gallnut was used to produce earthy browns, copper gave an orangey glow, and iron ‘saddened’ the colours once the mordants were dried and the square was dipped into the dye vat. The two dye vats used during the evening included weld, also known as dyer’s weed, which produced lovely shades from earthy browns to mossy greens and zingy yellow depending on which mordants were applied.
Lely’s workshop was a glimpse into her fascinating many-faceted world and her unique way of working. As well as explaining how to make your own mordants at home (rusty nails and vinegar for iron, mixed with some food thickener to make it easier to apply) she showed how easy it is to find inspiration around you, and get lost in a world of colour, pattern and nature.
Visit the new Vince store at 169 Draycott Ave, Chelsea, London SW3 3AJ.
For more on Lola Lely, see Hole & Corner The Fashion Issue