In a time when wasteful practices have more than likely taken the backseat, natural dyer Cara Marie Piazza stands out as a gleaming example of the magic that occurs when we work in tandem with the earth and its resources as opposed to in complete disregard of it. Using textiles as her canvas, Piazza fashions one-of-a-kind narratives out of natural materials such as botanicals, plant matter, minerals, non-toxic metals and food wastes. Each of her pieces is masterfully evocative and irrevocably unique, never to be recreated again—novel is too trite a word! Driven not only by the artistry but also by the lasting environmental impact of wasteful practices in the fashion industry, Cara beckons anyone and everyone who comes across her body of work to move with consciousness. Read our interview below and stay tuned for her marvelous natural dying tutorial, going live on oHHomeschool this Thursday!
If you were a plant, what would you be and why?
I already am a plant! We all are. If I had to choose I would probably be some sort of fragrant and silly looking shrub or bush.
How did you get into natural dying? What inspired you to merge fashion with nature?
I began my practice during my thesis year of University in London. Disillusioned with the toxicity of the fashion industry, both physical and mental, I was in search of a way to participate in the arena in a sustainable and meaningful way. I took a workshop in dyeing with onion skins and was immediately hooked by the medium. Many kitchens and vintage store studio basements later, I’ve grown the practice into a business, which I feel very blessed to have.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Take your work seriously, not yourself.
What is your daily wellness ritual?
I’m very gentle with myself. I have started a practice of writing morning pages every day. I wake up , make coffee, walk my pup, and then sit and write three pages every morning—stream of consciousness. I try to mediate for at least 30 minutes a day, but am flexible about the times that I can sit. I am also aiming to add in a no phone and computer policy for at least two hours a day.
Something you wished the public knew about the harmful effects of fast fashion?
This is a topic I could write pages about. I think the most important notes to touch on is the malpractice that happens globally in fast fashion factories to produce our cheap clothes. If something is under $50 it probably was made by modern slaves. I also want people to know about the severe waste crisis with our second hand clothing as well. The Or Is Present is an incredible initiative that shines a light on the Ghanian markets where America exports our used clothing. To see the sheer volume of our waste is harrowing.
When life gives you lemons, you…
Squeeze them on your petal paint watercolors.
What is your favorite part of your workshop community?
The students…and watching how healing creating without an intended audience can be. New Yorkers tend to have a way of feeling like things should look a certain way, or if it’s not perfect there isn’t a point in making it. I try to begin every workshop by dispelling that myth. Creativity, I feel, is an exploration, and I think we can open ourselves to some serious fun and play when we eliminate the expectation of the outcome.
Your most recent oHHo moment? (When you felt most calm, in the zone, happy)
Seeing the first spring blossoms pop on the trees outside my window.
Your biggest source of inspiration?
Currently diving into my own chthonic unconscious. I’ve been working with asemic writing sessions to try to channel new ideas and see the already existing patterns in nature reveal themselves to us unconsciously. To say ‘natural’ forms would be pretty obvious, but I like to let myself be led by some other source when I work and act more like a conduit than to have a set idea of what it is I am trying to make.
Why is color important? Beautiful? Emotive?
Color is harmony and chaos all in one. We each see, feel, taste, touch and process color uniquely to the next person. Each color contains its own special unique vibration and will elicit a different emotive reaction to the participator. Color can be a warning, a spark of joy, fear, entice us to hunger—it’s another tool to experiencing our surroundings, and color can be medicine when made by plants.
One memory that instantly makes you smile?
Meeting my pup for the first time and seeing his little belly.