Ching-Lin CHEN and Yu-Hsiu MA together set up Tennii Taiwan Natural-Dyeing Studio, a self-sustaining workshop that aims to empower teaching and product design through research, as well as to promote eco-friendly natural dyeing and weaving. Both CHEN and MA graduated from the Department of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University, majoring in Western Painting. Out of passion for fiber art, they turned to Taiwan’s first generation of fiber art master, Professor Jing-Wei LO and later became his students in 1984. For more than six years, the couple acquired the craft knowledge of weaving art, fabric design, fiber materials and tapestry. In the meantime, they participated the course taught by Sheng-nan Wang, a kimono manufacturer, and had a chance to visit his textile company, Datun Textile. The couple finally decided to study natural dyes of Taiwan and start collecting and experimenting with various pigments. After years of field study and archival research, they have gradually restored the traditional techniques of natural dyeing.
In order to trace back to the very root of Taiwan’s dyeing and weaving crafts, the couple resolutely quit their jobs – respectively as the director of the Department of Arts and Crafts at high school and as art editor. From 1989 to 1999, they started afresh in life with field studies and experiments of dyeing and weaving crafts both at home and abroad. During the decade, they devoted themselves fully to research on ethnic minorities – located in China’s southwest provinces – in areas of dyeing, weaving, embroidery and the making of apparel. They not only acquired an abundance of information, but also became loaded with the knowledge of traditional dyeing and weaving crafts.
In 1998, the couple was commissioned by Taichung Municipal City Huludun Cultural Center to conduct a project, entitled Finding the Colors of Taiwan: Common Plants for Dyeing in Taiwan. From the vast sea of trees, they tried to find the authentic colors of Taiwan. To establish a color system of natural dyes from collecting and experimenting is a huge task to accomplish. Fortunately, the couple has been keeping a habit of field study since 1984 when they studied with Professor Jing-wei LO. On top of that, they have accumulated previous researches, which in general greatly facilitated their color research in Taiwan. After three years of research, they selected out 126 important plants for dyeing – located at medium and low altitudes – to create a total of more than 1,500 color samples. They even published two volumes of the Beautiful Earth: the Natural Dyes of Taiwan to promote Taiwan’s natural dyeing. In 2014, the couple started a project, the Quintessential Color of Taiwan: the Natural Dyeing and Weaving of Taiwan’s Color Research, commissioned by the Weaving Craft Museum of Taichung Municipal City Huludun Cultural Center. They helped develop 64 colors quintessential of Taiwan. From 2019 to 2020, they took a step further to lead the Yilan Nature Dye in implementing the Yilan Color Quest Project. By the end of 2020, they have contributed to a study of 66 natural dyes in Yilan County. They helped create a total of 1,266 samples along the way, which lays out the foundation for future development of natural dyeing in Yilan.
For more than 30 years, the couple has carried on incessant research on traditional techniques of dyeing and weaving. Moreover, the work to bridge the gulf in between tradition and contemporary craft design has always been a huge task for them. The publication of the Colorful Plant Dyes of the Four Seasons by Yu-Hsiu MA introduces to the basics of the natural dyeing craft. The Dyeing, Weaving and Embroidery under the Craft Design volume of the Prominent Categories of Taiwanese Art, written by Ching-Lin CHEN, gives out expository details of the dyeing and weaving crafts and the contributions made by artisans. The Potential and Novelty: Propositions to Household Design, written by the couple, focuses on fiber materials prepared through natural dyeing to present ideas about modern household design. Last but not least, Fiber Story: Probing into Fiber Materials and Design discusses fiber resource development, basic infrastructure as well as the application of spinning, dyeing and weaving. Apart from research and development, the couple spends so much time on teaching that they must adequately take into account all factors concerning the plastic arts, colors, materials, techniques and the application. Their efforts to promote dyeing and weaving are directed into school education as well as social education.
The latest exhibition of the couple, entitled the Quintessential Colors of Taiwan, aims to recreate the abundance and richness of the natural color resources in Taiwan, and to present Tennii Taiwan Natural-Dyeing Studio again to the public. After 30 years’ endeavor in the field, Tennii Taiwan Natural-Dyeing Studio revives and makes full use of traditional methods, such as shibori, batik, stenciling and pinching. Overall, it helps create novel faces in terms of craft design and original indigo-dye landscape paintings – reminiscent of the ink and wash painting – which upgrade the dyeing and weaving crafts to the level of art.
Tennii Taiwan Natural-Dyeing Studio attaches great importance to the use of recycling resources. As a matter of fact, it produces eco-friendly craft works. It studies and develops natural pigments. As far as fiber materials are concerned, the studio only resorts to natural materials, such as cotton, linen, silk, wool and regenerated fiber to produce apparel and home furnishing with high quality colors. In addition, it creates artworks. The studio is passionate about developing and promoting the natural dyeing and weaving. It hopes to convey through the works of beauty, which are originated from the earth, some inspiring messages for audiences from four corners of the world.
Exhibition Duration: 2021.1.14 - 3.1
Venue: 3F , Taipei Branch, National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute
Address: NO. 41, Nanhai Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Sundays (Including national holidays): 09:30-17:30