To me, there is nothing quite like spending time by the sea. Seaweed is a part of the shoreline that is often overlooked, however in recent years, I have started to see it in a new light. I find the colours, textures and materials fascinating and beautiful.
Whilst studying for a Master of Fine Arts at Edinburgh College of Art, I explored the potential of seaweed within the fashion and textiles industry.
As I researched it, I learned that seaweeds and microalgae make up approximately ninety per cent of Earth’s plant-like existence. They are amongst the fastest growing organisms on the planet, making them highly sustainable resources.
Given the devastating environmental impacts of the textile and fashion industry, I became motivated to learn more about seaweed’s potential as an alternative for fibre, embellishments and dye.
I quickly fell in love with seaweed fibre and yarn because of its natural qualities and silk like appearance and feel. Constructing my own textiles using technology and handmade techniques, SeaCell, produced by smartfiber AG, acts as the base fabric to this textile collection.
I was intrigued to see how else seaweed could be used within textiles. I experimented with extracting pigment from seaweed to make a natural dye, and I am really pleased to have had some success. The colours are subtle but offer a calming effect.
I wanted to find a second purpose for the seaweed dye by-product, so I have created a bead, showing off a small variety of the colours offered. I also explored plastic-free alternatives to embellishments and have created a supple kelp sequin which has a sort of leather-like feel to it.
I continue to find seaweed an incredibly exciting form of inspiration of which I will not tire. Mindful of harvesting seaweed correctly, sustainably and legally, I have obtained a licence for small-scale harvesting through Scottish Natural Heritage and East Lothian Council.
T H E S E A W E E D G I R L T E X T I L E C O L L E C T I O N
Seaweed is a highly sustainable resource and given the devastating environmental impacts of the fashion and textiles industry, I became motivated to learn more about seaweed’s potential as an alternative for fibre, embellishments and dye. The Seaweed Girl project is a couture collection of constructed textiles showing the versatility of seaweed as visual inspiration as well as a material within the textile industry. These textiles have been photographed in a way to suggest wearable pieces of art.