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Our Story

A fusion of traditional techniques with new contemporary design,
Michelle Leilani textiles are a celebration of both
an ancient craft and the art of today. Returning to handmade techniques, each design is produced on a small run in our off-grid studio in Newcastle, Australia. Located on the edge of native bushland and surrounded by a garden that supplies material for many of the plant dyes. Our designs embrace local and sustainable ethics of production, that both promote wellness for our environment, our community, and ourselves.

The legacy of natural colour

Traditionally dyes were extracted from flowers, leaves, roots, lichen, insects and even molluscs. Each culture had at it's heart an industry of colour selected from their local flora. The processing of dyes involved boiling, fermentation, or the addition of tannins or metallic salts to bind the dye to the textile. Dying textiles was an art form passed on between each generation.

With the introduction of synthetic dyes in the 20th Century, many of the skills and knowledge of this craft, that supported local industries and communities, have declined. This has been in tandem with the impact on our environment and workers health due to the use of harmful chemicals employed in the current textile industry. Today a resurgence of interest in natural dyes has emerged as individuals seek more authentic objects that they can relate to in a move beyond mass produced goods, towards finding meaning in the things we enjoy in our everyday lives. There is a growing awareness that the choices we make affect the health of the environment that supports our well being.

The Artist

Michelle Leilani Teear is both the founder and creative director. A graduate of the College of Fine Arts, UNSW (now UNSW Art & Design) in Sydney, Michelle’s knowledge of the craft of natural plant dying and her passion for sustainable textiles and art led her to initiate the textile design company Michelle Leilani.

Drawing inspiration from the textures and colours found in nature on her travels to wilderness areas, Michelle uses the unique natural dying techniques she has developed to create handcrafted designs for both fashion and interiors. Her playful hand painted textile art embraces a return to slow fashion that celebrates the skill and beauty of artisan crafts.

Continual study of this traditional art provides an important foundation for her work. She has received tuition from master dyer Aboubaker Fofana, textile artists Liz Williamson & Julie Ryder, and master weaver Matt Tommey, among others.

Bespoke Textile Art

Michelle welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with clients to create something new and bespoke for their private or commercial design projects. With her expertise and vision, she will ensure that the result will offer a unique outcome for your project: an object of art you helped to create. Contact her to discuss your next project.

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