The Nostalgic Nature of Tea-Dipped Lace

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In the theatre, we often "dip down" whites that are too white for the stage.  Sometimes the stage lighting will make a particular garment pop out as being out of balance with the rest of the costumes, and it will register as being a little too bright.  They used to take these garments (often t-shirts) and "Tea" them--meaning they'd dip them in a big pot of hot black tea.  This would take the edge off the white, ever so slightly making them off-white, and eliminating any white glare.

Nowadays, this process is called "teching down" a garment as in "technical rehearsals" or "technically not white" (I'm not sure which one it is)...   You can tech down garments regardless of whether they're white or not--a red garment sometimes gets put into a slight wash of green dye, or something orange will go a bit grayer by being dipped in a slightly blue dye bath.

Often, when you dip down a piece of white clothing, it makes the garment look broken in, worn, and decidedly older than when it was in it's pristine white condition.  As white clothing gets older, it often starts to yellow and look less new.  In our contemporary world, we often seek out older white garments or pieces of home decoration because they provide a sense of nostalgia.  By having something old, we can feel their history around us.  It connects us to the universe in a way we can't normally feel.  It provides us comfort.  Our contemporary crafts movement has a lot of faux-aged pieces that artificially replicate that feeling in us without actually having any authentic history behind them.  Replicating the look of a keepsake is a lot easier than actually storing garments for decades...

So the latest pieces that I've made explore the quality of nostalgia in a way that my other pieces haven't.  I hand-dyed some of the white rayon lace that I had purchased several years ago into a tan dye bath.  This made them off-white in tone, making the lace itself seem a bit older and aged than it was in reality.  Then I went to work decorating it.

The result is a series of pieces that are unique and distinct.  Together, these neck laces make up a limited edition collection that won't be replicated.  While each of them is a one of a kind piece, their basic color is the same, and won't be repeated exactly like it has been.  The warm, eggshell tone of the lace is reminiscent of days gone by.  The fabric painting contrasts with that tone with its metallic sheen, and the rhinestones glitter gently in the light.  A variety of different focal points--most of them handmade with resin or polymer clay--grace the lace with a bit of pop.

I urge you to check these out!  They're up for sale on my Etsy shop, which can be found here or here.

More coming soon on my beginning understandings of the difference between an Art Festival and a Street Fair!  Until next time, Live Life with Relish!


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