Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Dixon.
Danielle, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I remember this question coming from dozens of adults in my childhood years, and my answers changed a bit with each new stage of development. The impractical dreamer in me always whispered “Artist… writer…”, but I quickly learned that I needed a “safe” answer to avoid the raised eyebrows and questioning glances, especially as college applications drew near. I continued to create, in multiple forms, but always for my own personal therapy. I never expected to share my work with an audience.
Before I became a parent, I worked as a child and family therapist, and I maintained an active creative life for my own self-care. After a cross country move and the arrival of our first child, my husband and I made the decision that I would become a full-time caretaker. I neglected my creative side for the first couple of years into my parenting journey… Postpartum depression and anxiety turned my world gray for awhile. When I finally began creating again, the colors starting to come back into focus.
Dyeing textiles is the latest evolution in my artistic experimentation. It began as a personal sustainability project, as I searched out unique ways to up-cycle my child’s worn clothing without buying new items. In the same season, I discovered the ease and beauty of using baby wraps, which I largely credit with an easier postpartum recovery after the birth of my second child. When you’re surviving on little sleep, and your every minute is dedicated to the care of others, there is something magical about wrapping your little one in a soft, magnificent woven wrap. Your wrap hugs the baby close to you, while also embracing your exhausted, hard-working body.
It was only a matter of time before my love for art and color collided with this newfound passion for babywearing, and I began to experiment with dye techniques on purpose woven baby wraps. I began taking custom orders in March of 2017, which has been an adventure. My customers send me their items, and we collaborate to give their piece a one of a kind new look.
Please tell us about your art. What do you do / make / create? How? Why? What’s the message or inspiration, what do you hope people take away from it? What should we know about your artwork?
Currently, the vast majority of my art is collaborative. I have customized baby carriers, clothing, shoes, blankets, and handbags. My primary customer base is comprised of a niche group who enjoy both the practicality and aesthetics of baby carriers. Many people who practice babywearing celebrate its active secondhand market, which is something that runs counter to our western culture’s tendency toward fast fashion. I love the fact that a dye job can promote sustainability by prolonging the life of an item- if a color or design speaks to you, you are more likely to keep and use it for the long-term.
My specialty technique is something called “confetti dyeing,” which involves placing dry dye directly on prepped fabric. It is a wild and messy process, and I love the way every dye job is unique. I am always inspired by the way dyeing acts as a metaphor for life- it is often chaotic up close, but when the final product is rinsed, dried, and viewed from a few steps back, there is cohesion.
On the customer’s side, collaborations can be quite therapeutic. Many people want a dye job for a new baby, or to commemorate a pregnancy or infant loss. Sometimes they choose colors in the memory of a loved one who has passed away. Sometimes they want a special piece for themselves or a dear friend. Whatever their situation, I feel honored when customers entrust me with parts of their story, which then translates into the design of the art itself.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
I think the biggest challenge facing artists today is that machines are vastly more efficient, so it can be difficult to appreciate the time and love that goes into something individually customized. There is beauty in the imperfection of handcrafted items. I have a love/hate relationship with technology; on one hand, it is what helps me network and connect with customers all over the world. On the other hand, items that are produced en masse are just not the same as something that has been lovingly customized by the hands of an independent artist.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I have a gallery of past work featured on my Instagram account, with more detailed pictures in photo albums on my Facebook business page. As of today, I have shipped pieces to Asia, Australia, Europe, and all over North America. The best way people can support my work is by interacting with my Instagram feed, and of course via word of mouth. My business is still in its infancy, so I am always grateful when people recommend me to their family and friends.
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @cottoncandycustoms
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/cottoncandycustoms/
Kate Elizabeth Photography, Danielle Dixon