The seed of an idea towards collaboration began in the studio one evening when my friend Sonja Denelzen of Thieves Boutique saw my “cell structures” drawings in process floating around the space.

A couple of years later… In the beginnings of 2012 we realized an adaptation of her signature “5 in 1” dress, for the spring collection with a shortened seam length and screen print of “cell structures” using black walnut ink and iron water.

The piece is born from local hands.

The design process began in Sonja’s Toronto studio.
The garments were sewn locally in the GTA.

Last fall my aunt, mother and I went walking along the Niagara Escarpment to collect black walnuts for my winter stock of ink.

I find myself drawn to the interplay found between cooking and art making and harvesting food and using plant pigment for drawing.  A lot happens in my kitchen.

I crushed the collected black walnut hulls, extracted the pigment through a process of slow simmer and combined the dense brown ink with a little iron water to bring out a deeper grey tone.

We hand screened each dress together and then heat steamed the print to set the ink.

I love the tone achieved from this natural dye and I love that it will slowly change and soften over washings, like the seasons change.

The piece itself can be adapted to at least 10 different ways to suit different moods and weather conditions from dress to tunic with sleeves or without sleeves.

The “cell structures” drawings took their inspiration from patterns in the sand and the expanse of water I lived with daily during my artist residency on Toronto Island. Here I used the suminagashi drawing technique where I worked directly with ink floating on water. I felt a relationship between the elements and the patterns which evoked cells structures and water in my own body.

Recently I was reminded of the research of Dr. Emoto, on water and the power of words, prayer, vibration and intention to change water’s patterns of crystalline structures.  Positive words, vibration and intentions were seen to give more intricate, harmonious and balanced patterns.

Given our body is on average made of 60 % water, it is powerful to consider the effect of positive thought.

My work often explores interdependence between the inner and outer ecosystem and cycles of fragility and resilience.  I want to continue to drink clean water and reduce my contribution to unnecessary pollutants flowing into the water.  Wearing a print of my “cell structure”, I reflected, could cue my attention both to this reciprocal relationship of inner and outer and the power of our thoughts.

Thieves Boutique:

Dr. Emoto: