Article by Rachel Sauls-Wright, Chattanooga Times Free Press (published November 13, 2013)
You won’t see many buckets and rubber bands in tie-dye artist Julie Whitehead’s studio.
It’s more like heavy-duty clamps, hardware and broken CDs.
“There is a lot of chemistry involved,” said Whitehead, adding that chemical reactants like soda ash and heat play a big part in creating tie-dye designs. “People don’t realize that tie-dye is thousands of years old. It uses techniques that come from Thailand and Japan.”
Creating the upscale tie-dye clothing she is known for takes more time, effort and expertise than the simple designs taught at summer camp.
Although that’s not to say she doesn’t create T-shirts too. Iconic “California” style tie-dye shirts are always on offer at her booth at the Chattanooga Market, festivals across the region or online, but she is working to show the area that tie-dye is more than the T-shirts typically associated with the art form. Tie-dye can be part of something to wear to work or as part of a truly put-together outfit, she said.
Whitehead, who lives in Brainerd, also wants to help share the art of dying with the Chattanooga community. She plans to begin hosting classes later this fall or winter on basic tie-dying or more advanced subjects liked silk dying.
“It’s very relaxing just to get out of your element a little bit and take any kind of art class, and it’s also educational,” she said. “Plus, you get to go home with something you made yourself. And with a professional guiding the process, you’re more likely to create something you’ll love and will wear.”
For more information about Whitehead’s designs or to purchase your own, visit juliebelledesigns.com.