This Artist Uses Flower Scraps To Dye Wedding Dresses
No shade of the rainbow is off-limits to natural dyer Cara Marie Piazza.
Published Jun 3, 2017 9:00 AM
Above, the Cortana tutu skirt, soon to be a wedding gown, hangs to dry.
We popped by the huge, sun-drenched Crown Heights loft she shares with two other artists friends—deemed a “no plastic” zone, it’s bursting with crystals, dried flowers, and ephemera from her travels—and chatted with Piazza to learn more about her process. Plus, she shared why she loves working with brides and an easy DIY.
On Getting Started: “I initially started natural dying in college. I studied textiles in London and always knew I wanted I wanted to work in fashion, but the industry just wasn’t for me. One day, this sweet old woman came to teach us how to dye with onion skins, and became I obsessed.
I bought the book Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint and read it cover to cover. Then I started experimenting with shibori and food waste: onion skins, onion skins, avocado pits, pomegranates. Eventually I asked my professor if I could devote my thesis to it, and I haven’t looked back since. I love the alchemy of natural dying. I love being able to achieve any color of the rainbow.”
Above, Piazza prepares the dye for the Cortana tutu skirt.
I love working with roses— they’re so potent. I’m a flower junkie. Ranunculus and anemones are some of my favorites. Recently, I dip dyed a huge Cortana tutu skirt light lavender ombre for a Stone Fox Bride client to use as her wedding gown. I looked through my larder and did swatch tests with cochineal and logwood. Cochineal is a kind of bug—I bought a kilo of dried ones in Oaxaca, brought it back to Brooklyn and ground them up in my studio.”
On Working With Brides:
“My bridal work is my favorite new project. I work with brides post-wedding to preserve their bouquets, which I then immortalize them into a garment. I take the bouquet, place it on a white silk charmeuse robe, and steam out the color very lightly and slowly. It can take anywhere from six hours to two weeks.
On Colors: “Foamy green is my favorite color, for sure—sort of an aquamarine gemstone vibe. The great thing about natural dying is that you can achieve any color you want depending on the PH.
And there are so many nuances to the shades. For example, madder roots grown in Germany are a whole different shade of red than madder roots grown in Turkey. It all depends on the content of the soil. And depending on the country they’re grown in, pomegranates produce all different varieties of green and brown.”
Above, a peek into the work-live Crown Heights loft that Piazza shares with two other artists.
Above, the “no-plastic” space is filled with dried flowers and finds from Piazza’s travels.