Lauren Franceschini

Art Textiles: Displaying the work and inspirations of Marian Clayden

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“I came to find dyeing fabric to be even more expressive than painting, perhaps because attempting to control all the variables was an exciting challenge. Even though I tried to envision the final result as a painter would, I had to dance with the technique to reach a happy conclusion.” Marian Clayden

Running until April 17th at the Fashion and Textile Museum, The Festival of Textiles seeks to display the contributions of the brightest textile developers, artists, and designers in the UK through a series of exhibitions, installations, and research. In collaboration with the Festival of Textiles, Art Textiles is a unique exhibition that features the work of designer Marian Clayden. Clayden, a British-born artist who transformed psychedelic tie-dyed fabrics into a million-dollar fashion business in the United States, is brought to life through the revival of the history behind her inspirations and dye techniques.


“Joyful Noise”, 1971

Marian Clayden began her artistic career as a traditional painter, but soon desired a complexity and texture within her work. She began her graduation into to textiles after picking up a simple book on tie-dyeing and experimenting with kitchen dyes. Her interest in textiles quickly grew and after perfecting her art and creating a collection of products ranging from larger panels to smaller accessories, Clayden was approached about creating the costumes for an upcoming theatre production. This marked the beginning of her long, successful career in the world of textile creation. After the production she was approached by several high priority fashion designers who influenced her immersion into the world of fashion. Clayden’s first collection was sold through small boutiques such as “Obiko” in San Francisco. Obiko’s inclusion in the prestigious Bergdorf Goodman in New York meant that Clayden’s collection would be exposed to the masses. It was this exposure that skyrocketed her success and provided validity to her unique designs.

Clayden’s success was trademarked by her use of dyeing fabrics in the Shibori style. Shibori, an ancient Japanese technique that was originally used with indigo dyes. For Shibori, the cloth can be bound, stitched, folded, twisted, clamped, and compressed. The difficulty of Shibori lies in the proper marriage between methodology and type of cloth. Because different fabrics have different properties and qualities, the methods must be carefully matched to ensure the desired outcome is achieved. There are six major known Shibori techniques: Kanoko, Miura, Kumo, Nui, Arashi, and Itajime. Because the art form is so complex, it takes a five-year apprenticeship under a master craftsman to learn the full dying process.

For more information on the Festival of Textiles, their other exhibitions, and how to purchase tickets, visit their website.

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