underscore // inks + thread

April 7, 2014

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maggie pate of inks + thread is a textile designer and print maker residing in chattanooga, tennessee . we struck up a long distance friendship after i won a contest to name one of her beautiful scarves a few months ago.  maggie’s process of scavenging for natural pigments and creating handmade products with what comes from the earth make her a natural fit for our underscore series.

sewing station

painting patterns

grandmother's singer

indian print blocks

who or what inspires your designs?

i have a collection of antique indian print blocks that are always a source of inspiration for my prints. they were acquired during my trek to india in 2006 – 2007. though i try not to look too extensively at other pattern designers’ work for fear that it may influence my designs, i do have some favorites: leah duncan, forget me not and MILLENEUFCENTQUATREVINGTQUATRE.

the natural dye work i do is most ardently inspired by others who take up the craft: maura ambrose of folk fibers,  and beth of honest alchemy, along with upstate, rebecca atwoodlookout & wonderland, and scout & catalogue.

the never-ending list of brands and makers that inspire me all capture the drive and passion i only hope to maintain: tumbleweeds handcraft (who encouraged me to pursue my passion amidst my insecurities), rackk and ruin, dinosaur toes, gamma folk, hackwith design house, kari bretigam, and willow knows. there are many more, but for the sake of time and patience i’ll refrain from creating an exhaustively long list.

indigo dyed napkin

indigo stained hands

how did you stumble upon & master your craft?

my formative years were spent in the heart of the fashion industry. i lived in nyc, modeling and traveling internationally before moving on to work for a clothing designer. those years behind the scenes of fashion industry taught me about all the many mechanisms involved in creating a collection. i’ve always had an active interest in various crafting, but inks + thread sprung from a hobby of silk painting coupled with a desire to create patterns that could be printed digitally and produced for consumer purposes. after introducing the first collection of scarves in late spring 2013, i began natural dyeing by scavenging for natural plants and creating pigment rich fabrics.  for the most part, i am completely self taught when it comes to natural dyeing and pattern design, but i occasionally have had long distance friends come to my aid such as beth from squid whale design.

maggie pate

home office

what’s a typical day in the life?

i suppose it depends on the day, weekday vs. weekend. like most makers and creatives, i have job that helps pay for my craft. so a normal workday for me begins with kittens announcing their hunger in song around 7:00 am. the first thing i do is tend to their needs, after which i make my morning tea. then i usually head out to the back porch to water plants and let my dog, jameson, bounce around the lawn. from there i will scour through pinterest for some inspiration and read over and respond to emails. after readying myself for work, i grab my bag and walk to work if it is nice out (i am lucky to have a day job that also allows me to exercise my curating creativity). i usually finish up my work day around 7 or 8 (yes that is a 10 -12 hour workday).

my evenings and weekends are a mad rush to tackle the to-do list for inks + thread. i will usually head home to prep for upcoming tasks, sometimes stopping into the organic grocery to grab a bite to eat since my days don’t usually allow much time for sit-down suppers. some nights, i scour fabric and start mordant baths for natural dye projects scheduled for the coming weekend or  work on paintings to create custom prints. after indulging in a netflix show or two i will head to bed around 2:00 am snuggling with a pup to my side and sharing a pillow with a cat.

home office detail

what does 2014 hold for inks + thread?

so far, 2014 has been so inviting and busy. i finished my spring/summer scarf collection called textures, which I aim to release this month. i already have one indigo dyeing workshop under my belt, and i’m working on introducing clothing into the collection as well as expanding the indigo and natural dyeing products into household goods and accessories. i also have a few collaborations in the works with a leather worker, a natural dye story coming out in hearth magazine, and a few custom prints i’m working on for other clothing designers.

photos courtesy of maggie pate of inks + threads
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