Beth Kalinsky of Eliza Dot Design — hand-dyed textiles and homegoods
Textile artist Beth Kalinsky of Eliza Dot Design specializes in hand-dyed accessories and homegoods — everything from shibori indigo pillows to indigo and ice-dyed raw silk scarves. And she’s been following her journey of textile creation for about 15 years.
After attending school in Bowling Green, Ohio for Fine Art, finishing with a double degree in graphic design and textiles, Beth spent some time traveling the world and wound up working for a large ad agency in Chicago. She found she needed a creative outlet to balance out the stress of work, so she spent her free time hand-painting silk and creating other fiber art. Then, at an artist’s annex in Chicago, she discovered the art of indigo.
Recently, she’s relocated to Cincinnati, working as a graphic designer by day and a mad color-scientist, experimenting with dyes in her studio on nights and weekends.
How did you get your start in specializing in indigo and shibori dyeing?
I’ve been doing textiles for about 15 years now and it’s really where my passion is. Graphics is my living; doing textiles is my fun stuff. I started selling about 7 years ago in Chicago. I didn’t start with indigo — I used to hand-paint silks and I used to make a lot of collages, like a mixed-media wall hangings.
Then, a couple years ago — there’s a great facility up in Chicago, called Lillstreet. Where I took a shibori class from an inspirational Japanese artist, Akemi Cohn. I fell in love with the Indigo process and shibori techniques and I haven't stop using it since.What is the “shibori” technique and how does it differ from traditional dyeing?
Indigo is used in so many different cultures — indigo is a plant and it doesn’t look like what you think it would — but shibori is a Japanese way of getting pattern. Basically, it’s different ways to fold your fabric to get different patterns on your textiles. They’re known for it in Japan and they have crazy machinery that helps them do the folding now. But there were really beautiful ways they used to do it. You can use rubber bands, strings, wood, clips to fold and tie your textiles — anything you can dip into the dye — and once you take the bindings off and wash it all out, it comes apart with these patterns that you can’t predict. It’s a really organic process; I never know what’s going to happen.
Why do you like working with textile? What are you most excited about?
I think overall, I feel like I’m a scientist sometimes. I’m in my studio, measuring out different types of dyes, trying to see what colors come from different plants and natural materials. This new thing I’m doing with natural dye is so interesting to me because I’m looking around outside and I’m looking to see if the grass could be a pigment or a flower can be. I am excited to work with eco-dyeing and ravishing goods from nature that you wouldn't think color would come from — I have this plant that looks like a grass or a reed but the color that you get out of it is pink. So I think it’s all experimental. That medium is really hard to use and figure out and it’s just fun playing with. It’s much more hands-on.
What inspires you?
I think even everyday patterns are inspiring, since we all are more playful, mindful and creative with what we are wearing. And since the shibori has gotten me to do more patterns, even wallpaper now is beautiful. Just seeing what other artists are doing is a big inspiration. I love other cultures — in every aspect, from textiles to patterns to home decorating to churches and mosques, art and artists and food. I want to learn more and to see what other countries do with their way of treating textiles and art; the process is completely different and I want to soak it all up!
What does it feel like when someone buys one of your hand-dyed items?
Amazing. Even when they put it on right away when they buy it — I think that’s the biggest joy of it.
Explore the collection here. And follow Beth on Instagram @elizadotdesign.