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parking lot Can you talk about the process behind your tie-dyes? Tie-dye has brought really great joy to my life over the years. Each tie-dye starts with a piece of white fabric, then you fold it in half. You get a washable marker and you draw the design on there whether it’s going be a heart, a bear, a mushroom, a peace symbol, a pot leaf, or a Steal Your Face. Once the picture is drawn on there, you go around and make these tiny pleat folds where you go through and follow kind of like stained glass or a tattoo even. You’re following the lines and then you condense the lines until it’s divided into sections, and then you fill it in kind of like paint by numbers. You have your outline and your shape, then you come in with different colors and you have all these different shades going through it. For me, it’s almost as if Renoir, Monet, or Picasso are looking at their medium and it’s just white, then all of a sudden the shape and the design just forms itself. I will just take the marker and trace out the design. Its usually takes me an hour or two to fold a piece, then another half hour to tie it, and an hour or two dying it. I am best known for my elaborate picture pieces and being able to put multiple images in a single tapestry. I use between fifty to sixty colors where your average tie-dyer uses twelve to twenty-four colors. So I am able to achieve shades and ranges of different colors that you just won’t see in other works. I have a whole crew of people. In the last twenty years I have trained my two brothers, my cousins, my daughter, and multiple friends. I now have ten to twelve tie-dyers that support a store in San Francisco called Jammin on Haight,

parking lot which is located where Positively Haight Street used to be. It takes all of us working day in and day out, night and day, at all hours, tying and folding and tying and folding and coloring. The greatest thing that keeps us all coming back to it is that it’s like Christmas. With a painting or other forms of art, it sits there and you work on it and you work on it and then you go to bed and your mood might change and you come back and maybe do things a little different. Tie-dying you only get one shot. You lay it out, you fold it up, you color it, and then you wait. You have to wait twenty-four hours. You can’t touch it or do anything. The next day is like Christmas. You cut open the strings never knowing what you’re going to get no matter how much you plan it. It’s always going to be a mystery. The biggest appeal I find across the boards when we do tie-dye workshops is the anticipation of what is going to come next. So it is rewarding continuously. Even if it’s something you weren’t intending, you have no idea, so you are intrigued by it, which makes you happy and makes you smile. It makes you want to do more and more and more of it. Do you have any projects that you are currently working on or anything planned for the future? We do multiple festivals each year. For years we did Harmony Fest, which has now ended. We also always did Mountain Aire Fest up in Calagaras County. This year we have Reggae on The River, a booth at Gathering of the Vibes, and Jerry Day at McLaren Park in San Francisco. We recently got onto another project for Warren Hayne’s Jerry Garcia Birthday Symphony. All these years I have done

tie-dye we have never been able to tiedye polyester, sportswear, stage scrims, or spandex, so a lot of things that have limited me from being able to hang stages. We purchased sixty-inch wide dye sublimation digital fabric printers. They print images at the highest quality, almost photo quality. For thirty-five or forty years people have been trying to reproduce tie-dye as printed and pass it off as the real thing. Up until the last year, it hasn’t really been possible because it was screen-printing or big drum printing, which is color on top of color on top of color. With digital printing, we are able to take any high-resolution image and lay it out, cascade, tile and print it onto fire retardant materials all the way for stage specs. We have been asked to create a backdrop that is forty foot by twenty foot wide for the Jerry Garcia Symphony. This will be made out of Jerry’s paintings “Wetlands I” and “Wetlands II.” We have permission by the family to take and merge the two paintings into one and plot them out into eight twenty foot long by five foot wide strips that we will then sew together. This backdrop will hang at the Greek Theater and then at the next five consecutive shows, except for Red Rocks, because they of course want the natural beauty of the rocks to be the backdrop. We are doing the Peach Festival, which is the Allman Brother’s Band last big hurrah, although their last show will be at Lockn’. For Peach Fest, we are doing approximately 2,000 feet of fabric, which is a combination of the dye sublimation, digital printing, and actual tie-dye fabric itself. It will be lining fence lines, up on the stages, and stage skirts. It will be in the backstage area, in the kitchen, and pretty much all

over the festival. Then we will be going on to Lockn’ ,which is Pete Shapiro’s festival. Shapiro owns The Capitol Theater and Brooklyn Bowl. They have a side-by-side stage set-up with everyone playing from Phil and Friends to Tom Petty and more. We will also be doing the Shakedown Street stage, which is the late night venue. It is a thirty-foot stage where we will set up multiple video screens and stretch spandex backdrops. We have a full array of lasers, and we will use them to turn it into the night-time Merry Prankster, Furthur

bus super late night party. Then we go on from there to Phases of the Moon, where we will be teaming up with Alex and Allison Grey and the Furthur Bus, creating a gallery/visionary art laser light show. We will use lasers to draw Alex Grey’s paintings and pictures onto a building.

Anything to add to the interview? I have always used my art to communicate for me with the rest of the world. I can make something that no one else can make the same, not even me. This unique ability to create something beautiful from crinkling, folding, clamping, and binding and tying the fabric has helped me to share the joy of creation with many of my friends, family, and total strangers for the past many years. Some of my greatest influences start with my father, who was an amazing artist. He was painter, a model maker, and an avid model train builder, which I think helped shape my love of stage design as well as seeing through a project that started with only an idea. I would like to pay homage to Courtney Pollock, the Grateful Dead’s original tie-dyer, who has also been a huge inspiration in my journey as a tie-dye artist. Like him before me, I wanted to make big works for big bands. Thanks to Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzman, and the rest of the Grateful Dead, I have been able to achieve my goals, and I look forward to dyeing for the jam-band community for years to come. Interview by Alessandro Satta Photos by Sean Behm






Headspace Magazine  
Headspace Magazine  

Issue 16