The Alabama Chanin, Heath Ceramics, and Boiler Room teams have been working together over the past few months in preparation for our show in San Francisco, which opens tomorrow evening. Needless to say, we are very excited. The show, Alabama on Alabama, is the fourth ever exhibition in Heath Ceramics’ new event space, the Boiler Room. Heath Ceramics opened the Boiler Room last year as a place of discovery, inspiration, and exploration—bringing together the unexpected, hard-to-define worlds of art, design, and craft. Those realms are explored through collections, shows, events, and pop-ups. We have to admit that ours fits the bill perfectly and are honored to be included.
Alabama on Alabama is a month-long journey into the soul of the modern South. Natalie’s work spearheads the exhibit, which also includes works by Butch Anthony, known for his ‘intertwangled” paintings and creations using found objects, and materials and works on paper by artist (and longtime Butch Anthony collaborator) Mr. John Henry Toney. Alabama on Alabama also showcases the work of our dear friend and photographer, Rinne Allen.
Our first collaboration with Heath Ceramics, launched in 2011, has built a lasting, creatively symbiotic relationship. That joint development was a beautifully intensive design process that blended our techniques with theirs. Our Heath + Alabama Chanin line of dinnerware is made by hand, just like our Alabama Chanin handmade Collection. The artisans at Heath etch the designs into clay in much the same way that we embroider our garments. And just as our stitchers initial the garments they create, the Heath artists leave their marks on each of the finished products.
Over the last year, as we began experimenting with our indigo dye house, we became excited about the possibilities of this natural color and the richness and variations it creates. This excitement carried over into our ongoing conversations with Heath about expanding our collaboration. The new pieces build upon our previous work together and today we launch two new themes in our Alabama Chanin + Heath Ceramics collaboration: Indigo and Bird’s Nest.
Indigo – electric, deep, light, or tropical
Indigo can be bright, violet-blue, midnight blue.
Electric indigo represents the sixth chakra—the Anja—that includes the third eye.
It is the color of intuition and self-awareness.
Today, the New Leaves stencil + layers of indigo of the Indigo Shell Top made me think of this:
A creation of Miya Ando: a representation of the bioluminescent bays of Puerto Rico.
Phosphorescent leaves floating on a pond, lighting up the night with a dreamy, radiant blue glow.
More one-of-a-kind Indigo pieces have been added to our current Collection.
Part of our A. Chanin collection, the A. Chanin Long Sleeve Cardigan is a must-have piece for cooler weather. Constructed of lightweight cotton rib, the casual cover up is machine sewn and hand dyed here at The Factory.
The Cardigan features raw edge detailing along the placket and hits at the natural waist—accentuating curves. Measures approximately 17 inches from shoulder and is hand dyed to order in Dark Indigo.
Like our other A. Chanin basics, the Long Sleeve Cardigan integrates beautifully with Alabama Chanin garments—layer over the Panel Tunic for a feminine silhouette, or pair with the Daisy Long Skirt to create a classic look.
Indigo—a celebration of our natural dye house at The Factory in Florence.
This collection includes updated classic styles, available in a range of shades from Light to Dark Indigo and Blue Grey. View our permanent staples—available year-round—alongside a revolving selection of one-of-a-kind, limited-edition pieces we love.
Check back regularly for more hand-dyed goodness.
Based on feedback that we have received from some of our DIY customers, we are now offering supplementary instructions in each of our DIY Kits. Each kit will be shipped with an insert that includes basic instructions, including how to “love your thread,” directions on completing basic stitches, simple construction tips, and how to add rib binding to your item. We hope that this will help make completing your DIY project easy and stress-free. As always, complete instructions for projects can be found in the Alabama Studio Book series.
We have recently been highlighting natural dyes and Alabama Chanin’s new dye house, run by our head seamstress, Diane. This project highlights the beautiful new shades of indigo that are emerging from our dye vats, shown here on one of our most popular silhouettes – the Camisole Tank. The tank can be adapted to fit almost any body type and its simple design is well suited for most stencils and embroidery techniques.
The tank is form fitting and features feminine back and necklines. It measures approximately 25” from the shoulder.
The process of starting our own dye house began with an exploration into the materials and methods that involve the chemistry of dyeing. That exploration began with indigo.
In its natural form, indigo is a tropical, leafy shrub and a member of the legume family, and a version of the plant is native to our own Alabama climate. The wide range of blue shades that this ancient plant can produce as a dye has made it one of the most popular (and successful) dye plants throughout history (and present day).
Alabama Chanin has experimented with indigo and other natural dyes for years, and recently set up two dye vats in-house, that we can better produce our classic Indigo colors here at The Factory. Diane, our head seamstress (and now head dye master), is overseeing the project with the assistance of Maggie, one of our studio team members. The vats were set up with the help of Zee Boudreaux — a friend we met during our time at Penland — who has spent time studying indigo and other natural dyes.
Zee worked here in our studio with Diane and Maggie during our beginning phase and generously answered a few questions for us about indigo and his experiences with natural dyeing.
AC: How did you first become involved with natural dyes?
ZB: In 1995, I was traveling and met a weaver/dyer who introduced me to textiles; she wasn’t using natural dyes, but my established environmental awareness and love for traditional processes led me to look for a natural dye class. I found natural dyer Cheryl Kolander and attended one of her workshops. I even apprenticed with Cheryl after the workshop. Seeing natural color come out of the dye pot for the first time was all it took to lead me down this path.
One-of-a-kind Indigo garments
(and Hable Construction bags, too)
Available for a limited time.
We’ve created special, one-of-a-kind dyed and over-dyed garments,
hand dyed here at The Factory in Florence, Alabama.
The Olivia Dress is the newest addition to our Indigo + Carmine collection. Designed by (and named for) our Studio Assistant, Olivia, this pull-on dress is hand-stitched and made from our indigo-dyed, organic cotton jersey. Clean lines accentuate the waist and bust line. The right amount of swing in the A-line skirt allows for easy, beautiful movement.
This market bag is my (almost) constant companion. (When my daughter Maggie hasn’t filled it with toys or books.)
Beauty, simplicity, and what might be the perfect length handles keep it in heavy rotation.
So many have sprung up around the office that we’ve jokingly labeled it our “Alabama Briefcase.”
It’s just the right size for back-to-school, a meal’s worth of groceries from the farmer’s market, a day by the pool, or a light-weight carry-on.
Shown here in our Blue Organic Fabric, the bag is made from scraps of medium and dark indigo, stenciled with our Facets pattern and sewn with grey Button Craft thread.
Have a look at page 107 of Alabama Studio Style to see where it all started.