Since we won’t really recover our liberty to freely circulate until June 2nd, Le Futiloscope continues its virtual tour of the latest trends! Today we invite Charlotte Leguay, founder and creator of Solveig, formidable little house of deco textiles made exclusively with vegetable dye. We love her deep indigos that transport us to the ends of the earth like Africa or Japan; her throw pillows that resemble landscapes of dunes or stormy skies; foutas like sunbursts or turquoise seas and tablecloths that make its cousins in plain washed linen seem boring by comparison…We first met last autumn, and it was Charlotte who first turned us on to vegetable dye as an alternative—we’d given up—to ceramic in the “inspired” manual labor aisles yada yada yada…
Clearly Charlotte is much more serious than we are: what led her to dip into these particular waters was no less than a personal re-invention. “After a career in Communications, I was dying to return to a more personal and more ethical creativity. That’s how the idea of Solveig was born. This reconversion was a revelation for me…I found in vegetable dye a very rich expression that was in keeping with my desire to do good, for the planet, for others and for myself.” The lockdown has changed her habits: “my daughters and I left three days before the official lockdown announcement in a tiny rented car filled to the brim, our baggage was only 2 dresses, a sweater, a pair of jeans and T-shirt, the rest—my whole workshop! We literally travelled with our knees tucked under our chins. We set up house in Charente Maritime, in my childhood vacation home. Here I installed my workshop in the garden so I could watch over my children. For me, vegetable dye is a way out, an infinite source of creativity, a way to take a different road.”
Charlotte is willing to share, and she has concocted, just for Le Futiloscope, a little vegetable dye DIY “easy peasy” that you can make with the leftovers of your avocado toast. All thank heavens, without “mordançage” the slightly toxic part of the process when you’re confined between 4 walls…
Charlotte’s Avocado Tutorial
- The skin and the pits of 6-8 avocados, more is better! (4 avocados for a dish towel, 20 for a large sheet)
- Light colored recycled fabrics: an old sheet, a dish towel, a pillowcase in vegetal fiber (cotton or linen), a sweater or scarf in animal fiber (wool or silk)
- An old pot, one that you are about to throw away…
- A large kitchen knife
- A sieve or a strainer with a piece of material as a filter.
Step 1: Decoction of avocado
- Wash and scrape the skins and the pit of the avocados (stock them in the freezer until you have enough)
- Chop the skins and pits very very small with the large knife
- Put the avocado skins and pits in the pot covered with enough water for the volume of material you chose
- Cover and bring to a strong boil (90°-100°c), let “cook” at least an hour.
- Filter the concoction through the sieve or strainer lined with the piece of material
- The decoction is ready and can keep for several days in the fridge.
Step 2: The dyeing process
- Bring the dye to room temperature and add the fabric
- Increase the temperature to 70°-80°c for animal fibers and 90° for vegetable fibers
- Soak the fibers between 15 minutes to a good hour depending on the intensity of the color you want. Avocado gives colors between powder pink and brown.
- Remove the fabric from the decoction and wring it out delicately without twisting it (or burning yourself). Let it oxidize in the open air ½ hour, since avocado contains lots of tannins the dye will intensify.
- Rinse in fresh water (rinsing oxidizes it again) and hang it up to dry
- To clean it, machine or hand wash with bio washing powder or Marseille soap at a temperature compatible with the fabric. The color is permanent.
If you want to go further
- You can create designs, by pinching the fabric in places using clothespins (in wood), rubber bands or by simply knotting it.
- For those of you more adventuresome, there are numerous shibori tutorials on the internet. Shibori is the Japanese method of folding fabric that allows you to create ravishing graphic patterns.
We’re eagerly awaiting your photos!