Decorating & Entertaining Ideas

Studio Tour: Indigo Girl Jennifer Parry Dodge of Ermie

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In a spacious backyard in L.A.’s Highland Park ‘hood you’ll find textile artist Jennifer Parry Dodge, of Ermie, hard at work on her latest obsession: one-of-a-kind wool and alpaca textiles dyed with natural indigo. (Past collections have included screen- and digital-printed clothing and linens.) “I do have a studio space about five minutes away, but really my backyard is my studio and I’ve completely taken it over—much to the dismay of my husband [painter Tomory Dodge],” she laughs. Well, there’s nothing we love more than a little backyard hang time, so we popped by to see what she’s been working on and just how she coaxes those dreamy deep blues and perfectly imperfect patterns from her fabrics.

Dodge approaches each piece in one of two ways: Sometimes she’ll sit down to sketch out a design, and other days she’ll “just go for it,” diving right into the making with an image or pattern in mind and her intuition to guide her.

Rather than submerging this blanket in an indigo bath as is traditionally done, Dodge thought it would be fun to lay it out flat on the ground, create patterns with wooden blocks, and drizzle the indigo directly onto it. When removed the patterns appear in stark white contrast to the deep blues.

Against a blue-tinted drop cloth and a patio that’s been “stained and splattered all different colors,” Dodge’s cast aside gloves and wooden blocks look so much like a still life, our photographer couldn’t help but snap a shot.

Each of Dodge’s creations can take from one to three days to complete. “It truly depends on what each piece needs,” she says. “I approach them individually. Sometimes to get good, rich colors, you have to dip multiple times.” While she’s working, depending on her mood, she’ll either have the radio cranked up, or opt for no music at all and listen to the birds and neighborhood sounds.

“For me and my husband, who's a painter, it's really hard to separate life and art. We both make things all the time. It's part of our daily practice.”
—Jennifer Parry Dodge

One of the shibori-style techniques Dodge employs involves wrapping stones in fabric with rubber bands to create a pattern reminiscent of the tie-dye shirts you used to make on crafternoons with mom back in the day.

“My work process is pretty free-flowing,” Dodge says. “I’ll have multiple pieces going at one time, and flit from one to another. While one is sitting in the vat of indigo, I’ll have a second laid out on the ground, and maybe a third drying.”

“There’s beauty in symmetry,” says Dodge. “But what interests me more are things that are a little off. I love the imperfections, the accidents, and realizing that some ‘mistakes’ aren’t really mistakes at all. To me a perfect pattern doesn’t seem alive.”
—Jennifer Parry Dodge

“For this sale I made blankets and throws,” says Dodge, “but I don’t like to tell people what they should be used for. It’s a piece of fabric, it should have multiple uses. You can tie one around your neck as a scarf or set it on the table as a beautiful runner. I do that all the time: I’ll start out using something as a picnic blanket, then cut it into a pair of pants. That’s my approach to textiles.”

Photos by Nicole LaMotte

Dying to learn more about the ancient technique of indigo dyeing? Then check out Indigo, an insanely gorgeous new coffee-table book by Catherine Legrand.

 

 

 

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