We Both Live to Dye and Dye Live and in Person
Suit of Blue, 2013
I'm Richard Ransom, and I created Live Dye in fulfillment of my dream of being able to do art dyeing as a job rather than a hobby. A dangerous plan, as many have found that turning a hobby into a job sucks all the life out of what used to be a pleasure, but in my case I'm still living the dream. I have now started another business, Funshop, in fulfillment of my dream of having a job that is literally fun. It's great, but two startups are difficult, stressful, and sometimes aggravating. Art dyeing is the remedy to being stressed out – for me, stepping into the dyeshop is a healing experience. Creating is magic.
There is a full bio on Funshop's site, so check that out if you want to know more about my life as an academic scientist (here's a link to my CV). I've been doing art dyeing since 1983, when I went to a tie-dye party (after it had ended) and became fascinated with the process while I attempted (unsuccessfully) to tie-dye an athletic sock with Rit dye. Over the years, I've gone from dipping shirts in Rit dyes to multi-technique art dyeing, and along the way I've held many tie-dye parties. I've come to realize that art dyeing is my art, and that tie-dye parties are the best kind.
I hope to help take art dyeing (and tie-dyeing too) into the 21st century as an art, one with ancient roots and with the hope of flourishing. Even as little as ten years ago, many art dyers still pursued their vocation, but the rise of industrial tie-dyeing (and the plummeting price of clothing in general, and tie-dyes in particular) has almost killed the craft. As part of updating the Wikipedia entry on Tie-Dye, I searched the web for going concerns that still produce art-quality work. I found almost nothing, though there is a new interest in tie-dye in the fashion world. However, the new fashion tie-dyes are monochromatic (one color on white) and lack any real design. To me, art is something that communicates emotion, and if there is no emotional response in the viewer/owner, then it isn't art – it's wallpaper. I aspire to more in my art. I want you to pick one of my pieces because it makes you feel something: whimsical, sad, happy, fun.
I hope you enjoy Live Dye, especially if you are here to get inspiration and technical advice for your own work. I believe that art dyeing is particularly powerful because of it's indirect nature. Art dyes owe much of their effect to design that comes through the process. Most of the design is not planned, but emerges as the gradients of dyes or discharge agents act to different degrees as a result of the interplay between artist-placed and inadvertent resists. This frees the artist, as well as the novice, from the much of the creative inhibition of the blank canvas. In fact, my son Craig has a much less precise, and much more free-wheeling, approach to art dyeing than I do, and his pieces often have more appeal than my carefully planned work. Read about it on our techniques page where we describe our philosophies in art dye – and please enjoy the rest of our site. We love you, you're what keeps us going. Now go have fun!
My eldest son, Peter, has pursued a variety of vocations (and just plain jobs), including sushi chef, co-founder of a private school, and theatrical combat instructor. He finally settled down and married Susan Heiss (now Susan Heiss-Ransom), and in 2013 he became the proud father of Julian Rayn Ransom.
Julian Rayn Ransom, 2015
He recently joined the Live Dye team and has been instrumental in pushing foward the business, especially our new Live!-Swig!-Dye! events. Expect to see a lot of Peter when you join us for art dyeing, delicious locally made libations, and fun.
Dances With Daggers, 2014
Since Craig hasn't sent me his own bio, I'm writing one for him to hold over until he does. Craig came to be part of Live Dye a few months after I'd founded the business, and he was instrumental in doing the many pieces that built our skills and refined our techniques. Those pieces are far from being 'practice' pieces, as they include some of our best work. Craig's approach is very different from mine, but I owe a lot of my own style to the lessons he provided while we worked together. He also helped me understand what it means to have fun in a workplace in a very direct and visceral way. We had fun every time we stepped into the dyeshop.
Since then Craig has turned to some other work, but we plan on joining forces again to take the next steps forward. You'll be hearing more from Craig in the near future, and I plan on signing all the pieces we make in the future so you know who was the primary artist.
Clurgeon Cluster, 2013
These are the people who've helped make Live Dye and Funshop a success. Thank you all!
Judah inspects Craig's cool
The usual suspects
Dana at our Gallery Hop installation
Hairy Craig at work
Rainer & Irma
Eddie is uncharacteristically shy
The outdoor dyeshop
A Funshop in progress
The social aspect of the Funshop
And Judy and Judah inspect the results
And the band plays on!