Two years ago, Ashton J. Paige and Claire Fredrick started Wax and Wine Fiber, an indigo dyeing company. During a design class, Fredrick discovered indigo dye, an organic compound with a distinct blue color, which can be naturally extracted from tropical plants (and is used to dye most denim). She paired up with Paige to start a business and we talked to the duo about first discovering the craft, what the process entails, and how you can learn for yourself.
How did you begin Wax and Wane?
Ashton Paige: Claire and I both came out of the same graduate program and our graduate mentor paired us up together because we were both working with quilts. We did a huge project together where we used quilts to work with women who were overcoming drug addiction. And after that we wanted to keep working together but quilts were so labor intensive that it was difficult to sell them for the price we needed to make a profit. So, then we realized we could dye home goods or clothing and it would be much less labor intensive
How did you first discover indigo dyeing?
Claire Fredrick: Since we graduated, we were both interested in fibers so we were taking classes separately. I took a surface design class that I loved and it just told me, “You’re going to be in the fibers field forever.” We each had an indigo vat that my class and I had to take care of and I learned how to dye with it, its history, and the complex chemicals of it.
How long does indigo dyeing take?
AP: We use pre-reduced indigo, which is a chemical that has been added to the indigo powder to speed up the process. The actual process itself is very quick. You dip the fabric multiple times and each dip takes 30 seconds.
What is your favorite thing you have dyed?
AP: My dad and I made these resists with eyes and those eyes.
CF: My favorite are these amazing handmade wooden resist blocks of every phase of the moon and stars. Ashton and I made this piece together. It was really cosmic and beautiful.
How often do you hold pop-ups or classes?
CF: We usually do classes every weekend. We’re often at the Lemon Collective in D.C. or at Trohv. We also do workshops here in our studio.
AP: As the weather gets warmer we will be doing pop-ups about two or three times a month.
How did you choose the name Wax & Wane?
CF: We love the phases of the moon and we were really interested in our birth moons. It’s about our artistic process and how we’re emotionally involved in the business at times.
AP: We were originally going to call ourselves Moon Bath, but we wanted to broaden it from just dyeing to making other textiles. But we work, similar to the moon, in cyclical forms and we try to never be stagnant.
Describe Wax & Wane in one word.
AP: Movement. We’re a nomadic dye shop and we’re constantly moving and evolving
If you were stranded on an island what would you bring?
CF: I would bring my cat because he’s not going to die and I’ll see what he’s does and learn from him.
AP: I’d bring an umbrella because I get really cranky when it’s too bright or sunny. I need the shade.
What music are you listening to right now?
CF: I’ve been listening to a bunch of Van Morrison because the weather is getting warm and that’s my oldies.
AP: The song I’m always listening to is “Selfish” by P&B Rock. I’m obsessed.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
CF: Oprah. Just kidding, it’s actually Frida Kahlo.
AP: There’s a knitter Kaffe Fassett who really inspires me in my practice and in choosing which colors to use.
What is your favorite fashion trend?
CF: I’m really into the cutout forms that are happening everywhere like mesh and sheer garments.
AP: I loved when cosmic was in and everyone was wearing those cosmic patterns on garments.
What is your least favorite fashion trend?
CF: Those slippers with fur inside of them that people wear as shoes. That’s a real bummer.
AP: Normcore. It’s trying to make a fashion statement while not making a fashion statement. It’s trying to be really bland but in an intentional way.