When you hit the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market this weekend, stop by Rainey’s Forest, where things are going to get groovy.
Hung on the racks in the Rainey Forest booth, you can find a kaleidoscope of tie-dye in every color, pattern and size.
Owned and operated by Jen Rainey with the assistance of her mother and fellow artist Karen Bell, Rainey’s Forest is a culmination of years of artistic expression.
“We’ve always been makers and crafters of some sort in my family,” Rainey said. “[Bell] was always encouraging of anything I wanted to try — drawing, painting, whatever. Tie-dye is just the thing that stuck.”
No stranger to creativity, Rainey expressed how impressed she was with the artistic inclinations of the community after helping Bell move from Missouri to Sequim.
“I wasn’t planning on staying, but this area just gets in your heart and you can’t forget about it,” Rainey said. “As if the natural beauty wasn’t enough to make you stay, the people who come here and bring their artistry and passion are amazing.”
Together, this dynamic duo creates expressive and functional artwork crafted from upcycled materials. Rainey sources most of her second-hand tie-dyed clothing from thrift stores across the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas. Simultaneously, Bell creates mesmerizing wall pieces using recycled goods like cans, wood rounds, and other discarded household items.
“Upcycling not only helps us keep prices affordable for our customers,” Rainey said, “but we also look for items we can repurpose to keep them out of landfills. The ultimate goal is to give new life to an item.”
While tie-dye had long been a part of Rainey’s life, it was during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic that this art form took on new significance. Family members introduced her to a unique, dye technique known as accordion fold ice dye — a process consisting of allowing melting ice to work its magic on powdered dye to create beautiful rows of crystalline-like patterns.
The impressive results were the catalyst for Rainey to pursue tie-dye on a professional level.
“I learned so much since then,” Rainey recalled. “I’m always trying to add new designs, color combinations, and techniques into my tool belt to grow my inventory for my customers.”
Rainey’s collection is impressive, covering a plethora of sizes from infants to kids to adults in a broad spectrum of colors and styles. The tie-dye artisan believes that everyone should be able to find something that reflects their personality, and tie-dye is a medium that allows people to express themselves uniquely.
“Everybody should be able to find something that fits them. That’s my goal,” Rainey said. “Tie-dye is wearable art. It shows a little piece of personality and connects us to a past era and a culture that’s present. Plus it’s fun!”
Reflecting on her journey and the growth of her craftsmanship and business over the past few years, Rainey expresses her gratitude for her expanding fan base and the early supporters who believed in her vision.
Her advice to aspiring and emerging artists is simple, yet powerful: “Go sell it! Making the choice to sell my art is the best decision I’ve ever made. Just do it. If you have a passion for it, don’t give up. You’ll improve over time, and people will delight in witnessing your growth.”
As Rainey delves into the intricacies of the tie-dye process, her wisdom mirrors the very essence of her craft. It takes patience to grow an old garment into a new one and waiting can be challenging.
However, for Rainey, the end result always justifies the anticipation. The most magical moment lies in unwrapping a newly crafted piece — an experience that never loses its thrill.
Bailey Loveless is the market director of the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market.
Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market
Open: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 29
Location: Sequim Civic Center Plaza and Centennial Place, downtown Sequim
More info: email@example.com, 360-582-6218
On the web: sequimmarket.com