A few months ago we found ourselves on our way to Natasha's workshop in the Overberg, vast yellow fields filled either side of the road with deep blue sky coloured mountains where they ended, the occasional pair of blue cranes, speeding bakkies and a Spar stop for a snack. Natasha's workspace is filled with swatches of colour made from plant dye experiments, learnings from the land and plants around, creativity inspired by nature. These colours, learnings, sketches and paintings made way for her collection of homewares which we were there to film for the lovely Akojo as well as interviewing Natasha about her work.
The Adorned started as a personal body of work looking into rituals around burial and how adornment was used as part of it. I started by illustrating on skulls and I still do, I see this as an ongoing series that is my personal expression and more fine art orientated. Later I very organically expanded my body of work into a brand and started the Adorned home, which has now become my primary focus. It was a way to offer all the mediums I work with to an audience on a more accessible commercial platform.
I started creating more than just fine art as a way to honour artisanal practices. I was introduced to natural dye at the beginning of 2020 and immediately fell in love with the process and colours I could achieve, all the while being so in touch with nature and her gifts. I immediately dreamed up what my homeware range would look like and dived into the testing and development of products. By the end of 2020 I had a full homeware range that was hand dyed and hand block printed by myself. I wanted it to be as handmade as possible I feel proud of how it's grown.
Synthetic dyes are incredibly harmful to our environment, not only is a huge amount of water used in its process, but chemicals such as zinc, arsenic, and chromium bind the dyes to the fibres. All wastewater is usually run off into our waterways harming wildlife and communities. It is said that in China and other regions popular for fashion production, you can tell the colour of the season by looking at the rivers, as a lot of the dye runs straight into the fresh water.
The process of extracting colour from plants is fascinating and completely sustainable. I use rainwater collected in big tanks on the land where my studio is located. I work in extremely small batches, so I luckily don’t need much foliage to create my dye. However, I take it a step further and use Alien plant species that have been cleared by Alien plant clearing projects based here in the Overberg. I use the waste from plants that are destructive to our native flora. When I first started my natural dye journey I was surprised by how little information there was on the colours the Southern hemisphere plants can offer us and I have recently started holding workshops to inspire people to start working with the plants around them.
So many people inspire me, I am constantly swooning over artists on Instagram, I would have to say one of my favourite South African artists is Willemien de Villiers instagram I love textile art and have been wanting to delve into it for a long time. I feel I have finally reached that point and am currently working on a body of work that is primarily textile based. I will be exhibiting early November. Another great inspiration is my teacher Ira Bekker instagram she was my introduction to this magical process and I really am inspired by her work.
My average day is actually filled with more admin than creativity, unfortunately. I think running a business on your own is not easy and currently, I do everything. I wear many hats and I also do commission work between it all. I am still trying to learn how and where I can delegate more.
My advice to other creative business owners and entrepreneurs is to try not to lose sight of your vision and keep taking steps towards that. Even when it feels like you might not be getting there. I also think it’s ok to pivot when you need to. That has happened to me a lot on my journey. I often beat myself about it, thinking that I should remain and focus on one thing, but naturally, things unfold, and sometimes what reveals itself is so much easier and better for you.
If you would like to know more about Natasha's work you can find her on instagram at www.instagram.com/the_ad_o_rned/ and her website www.nastashaminyonsale.com
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