Morgan Ellixson Boyea with her original creations at one of the many artist’s markets she attends throughout the year.

The Art of Tie Dye

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Thursday December 14, 2017

One look at Morgan Ellixson Boyea’s creations illustrates her sentiment, “I was probably born in the wrong decade.” Most notable in her collection of work is her original tie dye clothing, which hark to the 60s and 70s, often featuring retro shades. The artist, who has lived in South Burlington since the summer of 2012, says, “I’ve been crafting and experimenting since a very young age.”

The holidays are a busy season for the artisan, who sells her wares at area craft shows and as Friendly Earth Designs on the ecommerce website, Etsy. Ellixson Boyea says, “My two primary focuses are with tie dye clothing, accessories and textiles, and screen-printed t-shirts, upcycled dresses and skirts.”

The artist and craftswoman, who began tie dying 10 years ago for fun, says, “I love all things tie dye and those 70’s green and oranges.” She adds, “I made a few tie dye infinity scarves and all of my coworkers wanted some. I figured I might be on to something.”

In addition to the scarves, the tie dying spread to yoga pants, leggings, and even dish towels. Although an aesthetic seemingly stuck in the 70s, Ellixson Boyea’s interpretation of tie dye adds a modern nod with color selection and ingenuity. She hand-colors her creations with vivid fiber reactive dyes and then washes them with a special professional textile detergent, “to ensure your scarf will stay bright and happy and not turn the rest of your laundry into some kind of messy 70’s flashback.”

Looking towards the future, Ellixson Boyea explores other techniques as well, “I’ve recently gotten into ice dye, which is really neat. Instead of the traditional tie and then apply liquid dye to the fabric, you arrange the blank white fabric, cover with ice or snow, and apply dye in powdered form. As the ice melts, it takes the dye in different directions, mixing here and there, and creating some wild and certainly one of a kind patterns!”

Screen printing is also a huge hit with the artist’s customers. Ellixson Boyea has had success with two particular patterns which combine her love of bikes and hoppy beers. Both featured on t-shirts, the first design reads, “Don’t worry be hoppy,” next to a drawing of a hop. She notes
the shirt, popular in the beer-connoisseur city of Burlington, is a nod to her grandfather who frequently played the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” when she was young. The artist’s other bestselling design features a print of a bicycle with branches and a little bird. Ellixson Boyea also fulfills custom screen printing orders for local businesses, organizations, and bands. Most unique, she notes, is the design she did for a professional wrestling duo.

With endless creations to conceive and produce, Ellixson Boyea finds a way to make art in the midst of working full time at Physicians Computer Company (PCC) in Winooski as a project manager, overseeing e-prescribing tools for pediatricians. In addition, she works per-diem at UVM Medical Center’s inpatient pharmacy making IV’s for patients. Celebrating three years with PCC, Ellixson Boyea says, “I’ve always had a hard time deciding between science, medicine, and art,” adding, “Having a full time job dealing with the science and medicine part and still having time for my artistic side keeps me sane. I’m not good at sitting still, that’s for sure!”

Making an artistic piece of clothing or accessory requires getting the goods out into the world. That self-promotion necessary to an artisan’s business is what Ellixson Boyea calls “the hardest part.” Posting some information on Facebook and Instagram, she declares, “I’m definitely a self-proclaimed people person, so I think the in-person conversations at an artist market are really where my strong points are. People seem to love to chat about my work, and it’s a delight to share it with them.”

Meanwhile, Ellixson Boyea is joyfully at work making her wares for the season, explaining, “Early November through right after New Year’s is my busiest time of year. Makes the months fly by, for sure!” She has already participated in the annual Women’s Festival of Crafts in Burlington, a holiday market in Montpelier, and a holiday pop-up shop in Winooski. The artist recently started making funky Christmas stockings. “No boring patterns over here! My most popular stocking this year has little VW buses on them, another one of my favorite things!”


SOURCE: Carole Vasta Folley, The Other Paper