Friday, 15 April 2011

The Friday Interview: Erik and Amanda from Made By Hippies

Hooray! I have another interview!

One of the things I just love in this world is tie-dye. I love everything about it. I love the colours, I love the patterns, I love how you can either go full-out hippie with it or dress it up and do ironic juxtaposition with more formal clothes. I love it. The first thing I tie-dyed was a pair of Gap chinos, years ago. I just tied 2p coins into them, bunched them up, sat them in a sink full of purple dye and they came out great, but I really like the hippy multicoloured spirals and since I’ve discovered how to do them I’ve never looked back. I also love how it is still kind of the Underground Fibre Art and the links with all things alternative (I think they used to do it on The Farm).

I particularly love poking round etsy and admiring other people’s tie-dyeing, and I have had my eye (in a non-stalkerish, non-scary way) for a while on Made By Hippies, (also see their website, here), whose tie dyes I really love because they are so beautifully colour-saturated. So thank you very much, Erik and Amanda, for letting me interview you and put your lovely things on my blog!

1/ Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
Made By Hippies is Erik and Amanda. We do it all from making everything we sell to writing all the html code for our websites in notepad.We first met in 2005 after being introduced by Erik’s sister Sarah who studied with Amanda in the Yucatan, Mexico during college. We started out making polymer clay beads together and then started experimenting with tie dyes. Amanda was the tie dye teacher at first but since making thousands of tie dyes we have both become master tie dyers working together to make our colorful creations.
Erik and Amanda
2/ How did you get into tie-dyeing, and how did you develop your craft?
Amanda first started tie dyeing in 2003 as part of her love of fiber arts. Erik started learning in 2006 inspired by recreating classic hippy designs and inventing some new ones. We started simple learning the basics of the colors and how to apply them and get a good result on the fabric. Many of the techniques we have come to use in tie dyes we have stumbled upon by accident but they all add up to the little difference that make every tie dye artists tie dye unique from each other. We try to have a lot of full color in our tie dyes with very little or no white left in the background. When we look back at all the tie dyes we have made we can see our patterns and colors have evolved over the years as we keep refining our skills and learning more about the craft of fabric dying and tie dye.

3/ It says on your website you make your tie-dyes using renewable energy. Do you try to incorporate eco principles into the things you sell?
We think handmade and being environmentally friendly go hand in hand which is why we are PGE Renewable Energy customers.

Another aspect of this is selling our tie dyes at the Gresham Farmers Market and other open air markets and festivals whenever we can. Participation in open air markets is how people originally traded with each other and really ties in what all handmade crafters do with the rest of the community by allowing them a place to engage with their local community. Everyone wins!

4/ What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever tie-dyed?
I guess the straight up answer would be this person who responded to a craigslist ad for tie dye I had posted back in the day and she wanted her coat that have been coffee stained tie dyed so we made it up for her.

But we have had a few oddball returns where the people get the tie dye then they freak out because it’s not what they thought they ordered and send it back to us so we refund them but we just wonder what they were thinking about when they ordered the tie dye from the photo?
Amanda tie-dyeing (and also wearing a nice one!)
5/ What’s your favourite thing that you’re making at the moment?
Our favorite tie dyes to make lately are our tie dye galaxies. Each tie dye galaxy is a totally unique creation in both pattern and color and the Universe itself is our inspiration for the designs.

Here are a few examples from our etsy shop:
Tie-dye galaxy. Fabulous!
6/ Do you have a typical customer, and if so what are they like?
Really the cool thing about selling tie dyes is finding out that really everyone secretly wants to wear tie dye, even if they won’t admit it to themselves. [Note from me, this is completely true ;-) ]. We have sold tie dyes to babies that aren’t even born yet to 90 year old ladies who have been wearing tie dye for years and everyone in between. But if we had to narrow down one customer type at the market it’s the mother and daughter teams who buy the most tie dyes and then online probably just hippies who want a new tie dye that is Made By Hippies.

7/ Are there any other tie-dye artists you particularly admire?

Yeah there are definitely a lot of cool tie dyers out there making tie dyes. Sometimes at festivals we will see someone wearing a really cool intricately designed tie dye and we will study it and try to imagine how it was folded up and how it was dyed and then later when we get back to the tie dye studio try to recreate it. There are lots of great tie dye artists on etsy too. Although there are some poorly made tie dyes out there (more the mass produced stuff) that I definitely do not enjoy I admire everyone who makes their own handmade tie dyes.

One last thing I want to say, please check out our free tie dye instructions at and then our websites at and and and


Erik and Amanda

Thank you Erik and Amanda, really enjoyed your interview and I love your tie dyes (also, do look at their really helpful tie-dye instructions – I had never thought of putting the fabric on a draining rack or letting it dry first, and I think it would really help so I am going to try with my next batch. I see much tie-dyeing in my future. Indeed mum wants a tshirt 'that will co-ordinate with beige'. It's a bit of a challenge but I'm going to have a go).

Have a lovely weekend everyone!