Black and (the new) blue

Several months have passed since our last post. Kim and I kept dyeing, but it was a death that kept us from writing. Just couldn’t muster the words.

Our friend Claudia Cornew, textile artist and human extraordinaire, died in August in Mexico City. Vivacious, generous, creative and smart as hell, she died of breast cancer in her early 50s. Last February, we had spent five magical days with Claudia and her family at their home in Polanco, DFE. The day we worked in her studio was one we’ll remember forever. Our final glimpse of Claudia was after attending the cochineal show at the Belles Artes; she was flipping her long elegant leg over a bike rental to cycle home.


Kim and Claudia near the San Angel market in Mexico City. Claudia holds a purse she made.

In Claudia’s honor, we dyed. And we cried. For every great vat we got, we hailed Claudia. Here’s a glimpse of some new ideas: Kim dyeing white leather sandals and my wool cake.


We’ve continued to have great success with “Lyle” our lye vat. A reminder of that recipe (doubled, as is our habit):

2 T organic indigo powder, combined with 
2 t washing powder, dissolved in hot (not boiling) water.
Add to a 5 gal. bucket of water, then stir in:
2 oz. sodium hydrosulfite (aka Rit color remover)
1/4 t sodium hydroxide (lye)
Wait 30–35 minutes: don’t rush the vat (open wine now)

This summer, leather and vegan leather (pleather) consumed our attention, like this jacket we dip-dyed for the indigo-loving Brooklynite Angela.


Indigo brought another new friend into our lives: Denise. We met at Stout’s Lodge, where I admired her Superior stone rock jewelry. Turns out that wasn’t all we had in common. She joined us for a dye day and brought along an impressive array of books and utensils, based on her earlier experiments and trip to Japan:



If our adventures in indigo dyeing have taught us anything, it’s that great friendships form over the dye pot.

5 thoughts on “Black and (the new) blue

  1. anyonj says:

    Hi! I am a friend of Claudia’s and I live part tine in Oaxaca and in San Francisco. I met her in Oaxaca at the textile museum and last saw her and Frank about a year ago. I was trying to get in touch with her and after no response, thought she had suffered a relapse.

    I had no idea until I started googling and found your blog that she had died. I am heartbroken. She was such an amazing person. I would like to get in touch with Frank, but only have Claudia’s old contact info. If you feel comfortable and you might have his email address, I would so appreciate if you might provide it to me.
    Thank you so much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s