For Artisans / Make

Featured Artisan: Kristin Morrison

Explore the creative process of natural dye and textile Kristin Morrison, Artist in Residence at The Ecology Center.

Featured Artisan: Kristin Morrison
Photo: Michelle Montgomery

Kristin Morrison’s passion for foraging and wildcrafted textiles is rooted in a chance encounter with a cluster of cacti just around the corner from her old home. After harvesting the scale insect cochineal from the cacti to create a vibrant red dye, Kristin discovered the perfect medium for bridging her studies in fashion design and plant medicine. Her eco-printed origami dresses, madder root-dyed aprons, and chunky necklaces embody the abundance of the natural world and inspire a deep appreciation for the flora and fauna that surround us. Check in as Kate Weiner explores the beauty way with Kristin.

KW: Your wildcrafted textiles use the natural world as a source of inspiration. How does your work affirm abundance and connect you to our environment?

KM: I often reference the crossover between plants that give color and medicinal plants/edibles. When we begin connecting with nature, observing her, and learning about what plant life offers, we start to realize that the natural world provides everything that we need for survival- and as an added benefit, the abundance of beauty. Our species has somehow forgotten that we are just one connection point on this enormous, living organism called Planet Earth. Wildcrafting dye plants gives us an opportunity to rebuild, and redefine, our relationship to nature. What does it mean to respect this plant? What can I do to give back? Or, this plant is a mystery and I cannot wait to see what color it gives on fabric!

On any given day, I am inspired by the tiniest moments spent in nature, and convinced of the sublime abundance of the natural world. It is up to us to keep Earth alive. By creating experiences in nature, in whatever capacity, we expand our understanding of existence on this planet and build a more powerful relationship to it.

KW: Tell me about your creative process. How do you arrive at the final manifestation of a textile?

KM: Since I have worked with so many different techniques and disciplines, it depends on the project. I will say that my process is quite experimental and has as much to do with a gut instinct. In other words, I have a specific vision for a project or collection that I need to see manifest. I spend plenty of time playing with brushes, resist paste, and color combinations to see what speaks to me. Often, the most intriguing results are mistakes or imperfections. There are mostly imperfections when you work with natural dyes and to me this communicates the dynamic energy of nature!

What I love about working with natural dyes is that they create a natural parameter to work within. In any given season, there are limits to what plants are available and colors that can be derived. Having limits is good for a creative person!

KW: In addition to making natural dyes, you also teach about the process. What have been some of your most treasured experiences as an educator? Do you consider teaching part of your art? 

KM: I absolutely do consider teaching to be part of my artwork. Sharing ancient plant wisdom challenges the current industry in fashion and textiles and is a powerful form of activism. When people are inspired, they make and they share. Teaching is very punk rock.

Most of all I am inspired by my students. The alchemy involved in the dye process is pretty incredible and it is totally rewarding to be able to share the experience with those learning for the first time. Students ask fantastic questions and ultimately push me to be better in all ways. Ultimately, they go off to create beautiful things that inspire new ideas in my own work.

Energized by Kristin’s punk rock approach to creating, teaching, and sharing?

Check out kristinambermorrison.com for upcoming workshops.