Article on the Blog Learning the Language of Plants
When she was 9-years-old, fiber artist Karen Hess learned how to spin wool in rural Marin County. The experience anticipated both her career as a fine art photographer and designer of naturally dyed clothing and yarn, and her affinity for the surrounding ecology.
The natural dyes that provide the palette for her yarn subscriptions, clothing and fine art photos are made by Hess herself from locally-grown plants and responsibly-foraged mushrooms. A former journalist, Hess photographs the wool and alpaca yarn sourced within 50 miles of her home in Petaluma, California, as they are imbued – literally – with local color.
“In the past, textiles referenced our places of origin. Localized regions around the world had particular colors or textile patterns based on their local plants, fibers and traditions,” says Hess. “Fashion functioned as a sense of place. In some ways, ‘wear’ and ‘where’ meant the same thing in botany’s local dialect.
Photo Credit: Karen Hess