Now that The Market is back in full swing, I can get back to featuring our great vendors! Being relatively new to dyeing (I took an awesome silk painting class at the Polk Museum of Art this past Spring), I am excited to feature the Dye Masters at Weefcraft! Alice, who I should refer to as the Dye Mistress, has become my buddy lately, stopping by my booth on her regular Saturday rounds at The Market when she visits the other vendors and usually winds up chatting with each of us for a while. There are many cool things about Alice, besides her impressive collection of tie dyed dresses. (I’ve yet to see her wear the same one twice!) I think what I have come to like best about her is that she is so totally comfortable just being herself. That’s a quality I really admire about a person in a world where we are bombarded with messages that tell us to be self-conscious because we’re not like some impossible standard…Although NOT a message you’ll receive from any of our Market vendors! We love for you to come exactly as you are!
As I was prepping for this blog post and learning more about Alice, I learned what perhaps may be the single-most impressive fact I’ve ever learned about a vendor and their business — Weefcraft was THE VERY FIRST internet retailer of tie dye! They had a website before — GET THIS — Coca-Cola had a website!! We’re talking the pre-dawn hours of the internet age folks! With the knowledge that Alice is a true pioneer, I became truly stoked to learn more about her and Weefcraft through this interview!
Swan City Market Life: Who or what is “Weef?”
Alice of Weefcraft: Weef is a an idea. It’s really a long story that goes way back but I’ll tell you more than you wanted to know. Basically, a friend (back in about 1990) gave us an old computer. He was running a BBS and downloading Grateful Dead newsgroups and wanted us to join in the fun. The BBS led me (in the end) to a connection to the gopher where I found a text-based multi-user game called a MUD (the MUD is the predecessor to mmorpgs like World of Warcraft). I needed a name for my first character, an elven mage, and came up with Weef. So I ended up using the name as I branched out into IRC and when I started my business, oddly enough, Weefcraft (because I was Weef, and it was my craft) popped into my head and so I went with it.
(Blogger’s Note: If you understood any of the computer speak above, you’re doing better than me…But that’s one of the things I think is so cool about Alice! She is all about being herself!)
SCML: How did you get into tie dyeing?
Alice: So this very same guy, the one that gave us that computer, was having fun with tie dye, and I went out to his house a few times to make dyes. I was a fan of them, wore them, dressed my kids in them…so learned how to make them. At the same time I was making clay beads (out of a material called Sculpey) and jewelry and selling it about town. Another friend asked me to make him some dyes, and so I branched out. We moved to Florida [from Arkansas] where I continued to sell beads and dyes. We set up a website (I learned HTML to do this), and that’s the nutshell version of the origin of the company.
SCML: So if someone doesn’t consider themselves a “hippie,” can they still pull off a tie dyed shirt?
Alice: Anyone can wear tie dye! It is an ancient art form, and there’s something there for everyone. Tie-dye isn’t always wild and bright, though we do like wild and bright! It’s all about binding the cloth to create designs, and the sky is the limit.
SCML: What is your favorite tie dye design to create?
Alice: I don’t really have a favorite design. My favorite thing as a dyer is to create new designs, come up with interesting color combinations. Got to keep it fresh!
SCML: What is the composition of your dyes? are they eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, non-fading?
Alice: We use Procion fiber reactive dyes which offer vibrant color that is permanent and colorfast. They are considered safe, and most people have no problem with the dyes in the fabric. These dyes are bright and safe!
(Blogger’s Note: These are the same dyes I use on silk and rayon — I can vouch for Alice here. These dyes are THE best, and are very safe and colorfast!)
SCML: Are you able to create custom dye designs?
Alice: Yes we are! We come up with icons to create all the time, can make letters, school mascots. Like I said, the sky is the limit. And for people who want something we’re not carrying at the Market, we do take orders and are at the Market every weekend with specially made items.
SCML: How did you become a vendor at the Market?
Alice: I thought about looking into the market for 2 years! We moved to Lakeland, and I was sending lots of wholesale back to Arkansas and fulfilling web orders, but really did want to let people here know that we existed. I found out about an opening [at the Market], and contacted the market manager.
SCML: What do you like most about being a vendor at the Market?
Alice: I am really terrible with the favorite things. (I have a favorite color (green) and a favorite movie (Amadeus), and that’s it. Too many good books, good foods, good all kinds of everything to pick favorites!) But as for the Market, it’s just great to get to know the people of Lakeland and the other vendors. Great people, and it’s a pleasure to meet them.
(Blogger’s Note: Amadeus is an AMAZING movie…If you’ve never seen it, finish reading this blog post and then immediately Netflix it!)
You can probably see from this interview why, out of all the very cool people at the Market, Alice is coming very close to THE coolest! But if you aren’t convinced yet, try this — Weefcraft will help you host a tie dye party! Alice and her son Steven, who is usually at the Market with her and helps her make dyes, will bring all the required supplies, provide expert tie dye instruction (Did I mention she has been a professional dyer for 18 years?), and then wash out the excess dye once they have set in the fabric! If I could turn 10 again, this would be my must-do birthday party, without a doubt!
You can catch Weefcraft each Saturday at the Market on the North End. They are usually on the East side of the road, just a little ways down from Mitchell’s. Just walk north and look for the brightest colored booth at the Market, and you’ll know you’ve found it!
Weefcraft can also be found online at http://www.tiedye.org and on Facebook. Their Twitter account is @weefcraft, but Alice admits she’s not very active with her Tweets…I know, hard to believe from someone who has known the internet since the day it was born! #toofunny
Hope your week is totally groovy,