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Talking Sustainable Textiles with Redden Goods

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We recently had the opportunity to pick the brain of textile maven, Katie Berman. She is the owner of Redden Goods, a sustainable home textiles shop based in Durham, North Carolina. While she was taught to use synthetic dyes in college, Katie wanted to find a safe, environmentally friendly alternative. So she began experimenting with natural dyes, like avocado and onion skins, and she's never looked back! Her textiles are sustainably made and add the perfect pop of color to a thoughtful home. To view her collection of woven goods, click here.
Dyeing, woven deksel, and Katie herself!

Tell us a little about your background and how you got into textile design.

I have always found myself in creative rhythms and methods from a very young age. My mother jokes that I was coloring coming out of the womb, ha! I was interested in fibers and sewing growing up, but never really delved into them fully until I was in college. I originally went to East Carolina University to study graphic design, but after taking a textile workshop my first semester I knew that I had to work 3 dimensionally and fell completely in love with all things fiber. It was there that I learned to dye and print on fabrics, became a better sewer, and learned to weave. After college, I wanted to continue in my dye methods and find a practice that was safer to do in my home studio. I had only learned how to use synthetic dyes in school which isn't the safest for home use. I began experimenting with naturals dyes and have never looked back! 

Walk us through your process of creating a hand dyed pillow.

All of the fibers used in a Weven pillow are white to begin-- a blank canvas. Depending on what dyes I'm using, the yarns that are used to weave up the pillow front may need to be prepped (mordanted) to prepare them to take the dye. After mordanting, I will wind and bind my yarns into bundles before placing them into the dye bath. The process that I primarily use is called ikat. It's a method of planning and binding yarns in a certain fashion so that the resisted areas of the yarns that I've bound will create a design once woven together. The yarns will then be dyed, washed, dried and woven into a cloth on my floor loom. From there, I assemble the newly woven cloth and the cotton twill back into a pillow! 

Your handmade dyes are beautiful and unique. How do you create these dyes? Any fun dyes you're currently experimenting with?

All of my dyes are natural, coming from some type of plant or vegetable. I really like using items from my kitchen! The main plants and veggies that I've been using are onion skins, avocado skins and pits, indigo and a couple of dyes that come from certain trees (logwood and cutch). In most cases, cooking the skins/plants is how I essentially get the color from them. I don't have any fun experiments going on at the moment, though I've heard whispers that herbs like rosemary and lavender make some lovely colors. I'm sure those will find their way into my dye pots soon! 

What's the story behind the name, Redden Goods?

"Redden" is an old Dutch word meaning to save, to rescue or to redeem. I have familial ties to a Dutch heritage which is where I get all of the funny names for my products from. The choice to use the word "redden" is two fold. In one hand, it plays on the idea that what I do through this brand is a place of freedom for me. In the other hand, it is a reference to the fact that a small portion of my profits go to an organization that helps rescue individuals from around the world from modern-day slavery. Over the past several years, I have become very aware of the fact that a large portion of our goods are being made in environments that are not just, fair, or safe to the people that make them. I want to push against that and support fair labor in every way both through my personal life and through this brand.

Katie's method and work, Redden Goods

When you're in a creative rut, where do you look for inspiration?

The library! Sometimes I'll peruse through volumes of patterns and cloth and dive into the deep history of textiles to shake up some ideas. Spending a bit of time working with a different medium helps me too. Sometimes you have to walk away from a project or body of work and come back with fresh eyes. 

What do you love about living and working in Durham, NC?

Oh man, you may not want to get me started on my Durham soapbox, ha! It just feels like home. I lived all over the place growing up, so to have a place that I feel totally comfortable putting down roots in is pretty stellar. Durham has a little bit of everything for everyone. It's a great place for young people, families, and the older crowd alike. So many great places to eat, drink, and be in community. Durham is also a part of a cluster of small NC cities in the area dubbed "The Triangle". We're surrounded by a ton of options in driving distance from our city. It's just a treat! 

If you could do any other occupation, what would it be?

You know, I always thought it would be fun to work for the post office! You get to be outside sometimes, drive a cool truck, organize mail... 

Who is your favorite artist in any field, living or dead?

Lucienne Day. What a dream boat.  I studied her textile work in college and still never tire of her designs. 

What is next?

I'm still getting a handle on that-- thank goodness it's only January! 2016 was the first year that Redden Goods was truly out in the public eye and I learned quite a bit in that first year. I think I'd like to include teaching workshops in my docket this year. I'm also currently working on a new line of products to round out the primary collection of goods that I currently offer. Stay tuned!


Shop Redden Goods, Sustainable Textiles for the Home