Salt & Still is a New York based textile design studio founded by Alison Charli Smith.
Salt & Still specializes in small batch pieces that are naturally dyed and hand stitched (more on this below). The line features quilts, kimono inspired jackets, reworked vintage denim and jewelry. All aspects of each piece are done entirely in studio from the initial design to the dyeing and fabrication.
The name Salt & Still is a tribute to water, an ingredient that is elemental to the natural dye process. Inspiration is drawn from the mountains, the sea, traditions both old and new, and the love of natural magic.
Clients have included Burton Snowboards, LMNOP Creative and Textile Arts Center.
Salt & Still pieces are colored with natural plant and insect based dyes like quebracho, madder root, cochineal, and onion skins. A chemical-free natural indigo vat is also used and maintained in the studio.
The natural dye process is long, spanning hours to days to dye each piece, and it requires both patience and an openness to experimentation.
There are clear benefits to working with chemical dyes including consistency in color, better lightfastness and washfastness, and a quicker turnaround time, but the downside is the environmental impact, and in my opinion - that outweighs all the benefits.
The choice to use natural dyes is ultimately an environmental one, but it is an aesthetic one as well. The incredible colors and earthy quality that can be achieved with natural dyes can never be replicated in a lab or factory. The colors in the natural dye color palette compliment each other in a unique way.
All the stitching on Salt & Still's pieces is done by hand in the studio using 100% cotton sashiko thread. Sashiko thread is very durable and has a matte finish, unlike regular embroidery thread. All stitched patterns are created with the very basic running stitch. Hand stitching is laborious and time consuming but meditative in its process.
(You can just call her Ali).
Alison Charli Smith is a textile artist and designer living in New York's Hudson Valley. Salt & Still is her line of home goods and wearable pieces. You can find her large scale stitched works at https://www.alisoncharlismith.com/.