Hand-dyed fabrics, kimonos for days, and more with this stylish small business owner

By: Rosin Saez, with Phoebe Poon
June 24, 2016

Rian Robison, the creative brain behind International District shop Tuesday Scarves, is readying for a ton of summer events. Ethnic Seattle sat down with Robison at her quaint and lovely store to talk kimonos, craft fairs, and more.

Rian Robison mid-interview. Photo: Phoebe Poon

Rian Robison mid-interview. Photo: Phoebe Poon

What’s new and where can people find Tuesday Scarves these days?

I just got accepted into a bunch of traveling shows. Renegade Craft Fair is a national craft fair, so I’m going to do the one in Seattle (it’s July 23 and 24). And Urban Craft Uprising in June. (Editor’s note: It’s this weekend at the Seattle Exhibition Hall in Seattle Center; be sure to check it out!)

How did you get into dyeing and textile work?

I went to the UW (University of Washington). I got a BFA in ceramics there, which sounds totally random, but a lot of the stuff that I use now with my hand-dye, there’s some correlation there. And an art degree in general you learned lot about how to be creative and make things. I kind of worked with textiles a lot when I was at UW, and the program there at the time let you work with different materials. I did a lot of fiber sculptures. And I’ve always been interested in fashion, but then I just started making the scarves for myself. People started wanting them and so I started selling them, then I got in this space four years ago and I’ve been here ever since.

The infamous scarves-to-be. Photo: Phoebe Poon

The infamous scarves-to-be. Photo: Phoebe Poon

Can you tell us a bit about your beautiful kimono pieces?

So, for spring/summer I wanted to really find nice, light-weight fabric. It’s really hard to find fabrics that you can dye that aren’t just silk or cotton. So, these kimonos are 100 percent rayon, which is a really easy-to-take-care-of fabric and still really light and breathable and flowy. And all my designs are actually created from squares and rectangles. So, that there’s no fabric waste. They’re full pieces of fabric. It’s fun challenging myself in that way, just as far as [asking], How do you make an item of clothing out of this square or rectangle?

Light-filled shop interior. Photo: Phoebe Poon

Light-filled shop interior. Photo: Phoebe Poon

So who or what is inspiring you these days?

The hand dyeing is really, really inspiring right now and it’s, for me, all about experimenting with dyes and creating original techniques. I mean I love shibori, I love traditional dye techniques, but I really wanted to kind of steer away from that and do something different that no one had seen before as far as fabric dyeing goes. And it’s turned out really cool.

I spent two years really experimenting and diving into it. And doing things you’re not supposed to do with dye.

And then travels. I was just in Indonesia; it was amazing. I went to Paris earlier this year and that was incredible. So just incorporating different elements from different cultures, but not specific techniques.

And have you really taken away from all this dye experimentation?

Playing it by ear. At least once a day I’ll just try something new and just see what happens.

Life/business motto?

Try, try, try again.

Where the magic happens. Photo: Phoebe Poon

Where the magic happens. Photo: Phoebe Poon

Tuesday Scarves is located at 608 Maynard Avenue South.