We had the good fortune of connecting with Sydni Gause and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sydni, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
After high school I attended Watkins College of Art & Design. I studied Studio Art with a concentration in Sculpture and later received my MFA in Sculpture at Alfred University. Through both institutions I’ve spent copious amounts of time learning the language of contemporary art. I often joke that English is my second language because Art making is my first. Being creative drives me, it’s one of the biggest desires I chase. I think ultimately it’s because some ideas are harder to communicate via written/spoken word. Communication through material is a challenge and skill, it’s a special type of poetry. That in there lies the drive for me to keep creating. And what better way than to pursue that motivation as a career.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
– Can you open up a bit about your work and career?

After graduating with my MFA in 2018 from Alfred University I went on to teach in HigherEd for four years. I taught Intro to Sculpture, Foundation Courses, Art History, and Special Topic classes during this time and absolutely loved it. After the pandemic my husband and I decided to move from New York state to North Florida so we could be closer to family and enjoy a warmer climate. I currently run a small business, Sydni Gause Silks LLC, from my home in Panama City, Florida. Being in this warmer location has afforded me the opportunity to grow my interests in Natural Dyeing, a process I had previously pursued in graduate school. After starting a small dye garden in my backyard about three years ago I slowly began learning the art of eco-printing, a process where you take leaves, stems, and flowers and print them directly on fabric. My fabric of choice has always been the most lush silks so I’ve had to figure out different methods and recipes to make this possible. I host private local workshops where I teach this technique, as well as launching personal silk collections through my website. The process is rewarding and fruitful as it allows me to expand my knowledge of both gardening and fiber arts.

– How does Eco-printing work?

It’s not as easy of a process as one might imagine! First, I begin by pre-treating my silks with a Mordant. This is basically a metal salt fixative that is absorbed into the fiber and aids in the color transfer between the dyestuff (flower, stem, leaf, etc..) and the surface of the fabric. I then lay my pre-treated fabric down and curate a design using things like tropical hibiscus, coreopsis flowers, scabiosa florets, and eucalyptus leaves. Once the pattern is laid out I begin to fold the material and bundle it onto a copper pipe. The copper pipe functions as a rigid core and helps print the clearest of prints. I then steam the silk the desired amount and let color transfer happen. After a few minutes in the dyepot the silk is finished and I unbundle the hot cloth to see the results.

– Can you talk about the intersections between your Sculpture and Natural Dye business?

I used to think of them as different fields but recently I’ve seen so many parallels that they feel closer than I thought. My sculpture practice is rooted in identity, I make work about my experience as a woman, daughter, and person who grew up in a more conservative way. I often challenge those notions in my work as well, calling attention to different gendered constructs and how they play out in specific places. I take an interdisciplinary approach to these topics and choose materials that best suit the conceptual ideas. It isn’t lost on me to quickly gravitate towards fiber though, especially more traditional practices like quilting and dimensional felting. Learning the art of natural dyeing helped me make these items in a more thoughtful way. For example, I dyed an entire quilt using walnut hulls and then later dipped the piece into an iron solution which created a sort of black color. I then stitched text into the piece and presented it as a ‘rug’ in my thesis exhibition. Had I just used the quilt as is it would’ve lacked the poetics of the dye I used and the place in which I foraged it. Fast forward to the more functional work I make now, silk scarves and shawls, they are dyed using botanicals grown at home. I grow all my plants from seed, tend to them until they are mature, dye with them, and then save their seeds for next year. The process is very circular and poetic.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a great question because my husband and I host friends and family often. We first share our backyard with them, giving them a tour of gardens, trees, bird houses, etc. We talk about the different species of plants and birds, and how we strive to make a space that is beneficial to all life. After roaming the gardens we usually take our guests to the beach and either walk the shore, jump waves, or admire the sunset. As far as food goes we usually prepare a home cooked meal together. Appetizers, drinks, entrees and desserts, we make it all and enjoy it for hours in our kitchen. That’s our good time.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to send a shout out to the women in my family. Without their interests and love of fiber arts I wouldn’t be where I am today. My great grandmother made hats, my grandmother knits, and my mother quilts. It only felt natural for me to follow in their footsteps and pursue a career in fiber. I’ve been lucky enough to learn their skills through the years and appreciate everything they’ve shared with me. I truly wouldn’t be the artist I am without their love and support.

Let me know if you need more, although I’m sure this is what you were looking for!

Website: www.sydnigausesilks.com

Instagram: @sydnigausesilks

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.