Rather than use tie-dye as an expression of a laid-back hippie lifestyle, Grass Valley native Inez Harwood is taking the style to new lengths.
Harwood will dye a 5 1/2 feet tall by 3,153 feet long sheet to break the Guinness World Record for longest tie-dye today at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.
“I’m super excited. I feel like everybody in Utah is going to be there,” said Harwood, who is calling the event “Vibrant Protest” to raise awareness of the fact that 80 percent of American cotton is owned by foreign companies, she said.
The tie-dying will be an eight-hour public event where the fabric, which will be soaked using horse troughs, will be rinsed with 300,000 gallons of water to be pumped through a fire truck, and at noon, Harwood and 1,000 people will stretch the fabric half a mile across Utah Valley University campus for the Guinness judges to measure. The fabric totals 900 pounds dry and took four weeks to tie using 7,500 zipties.
The idea to try to produce the world’s largest tie-dye came from Harwood’s 12-year-old son, Faythe Harwood.
“I want to be an architectural sculptor, and in order to do that, for my senior requirement, I needed to take on a project, and so one day, my 12-year-old was in my studio, and we had just finished (a tie-dye piece) that was 26 feet long, and he goes, ‘Mom, what if you made the world’s longest tie-dye?’ and I said, ‘Like Guinness World Records?’ and he came home from school with the steps to make the world’s longest tie-dye, and so we started looking to buy the fabric and pricing.”
Tie-dye is a style close to home, said Harwood, who grew up in Grass Valley for 20 years and moved to Utah so she and her husband, Jerel, could pursue advanced art degrees in college.
“It’s like the urban uniform of Nevada County, so it just reminds me of home, and it reminds me of the Northern California philosophy,” Harwood said. “I just really love it, and it really resonates with me from there.”
Harwood developed frustration about the lack of access to home-spun cotton fabric after she found it a struggle to find domestic cotton for the event.
“I always try to vote for the home team and buy domestic product, and we could not find any domestically grown cotton for the project in town or in the state. We couldn’t find it at all,” Harwood said.
“We found a cotton farm in South Carolina that said we sell our stuff to Inman (Mills), and we mill it right here, and they said they wouldn’t sell it to us because we were a one-time sell, and they’re predominantly government-contracted.
“I was annoyed. I should be able to buy cotton from the U.S.,” Harwood said.
“If you go to Inman Mills, you find out some other interesting things like that they’ve been closing down mills for the past 20 years because we don’t process cotton in the U.S., so they’ve had to let a lot of people go.”
Inman eventually made a deal with Harwood, but she had to keep the transaction a secret because she was off-contract and, therefore, against policy, she said.
After people flooded Harwood’s inbox, questioning where the fabric came from, she sent the emails to Inman, and they opened up the platform for average consumers to buy domestic cotton product, she said.
“Now they’re very interested and promoting to sell to everybody here in the U.S., and three other companies have come forward and wanted to start selling here, so I’m glad that changed,” Harwood said.
“The other thing that blew me away was that when they finally charged me, they marked it up a little bit, but I still saved 17 percent over the amount I would’ve paid for foreign cotton. I don’t know what’s going on or why, but foreign products are not necessarily less expensive.”
The dyes for the project were donated by Dharma Dyes in Marin, Calif., and the sheet will be donated to its location after the event concludes.
“We’re supposed to bring the tie-dye to Marin County to visit Dharma, and hopefully they’ll put it in an art gallery out there in July,” Harwood said.
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.
“It’s like the urban uniform of Nevada County, so it just reminds me of home and it reminds me of the Northern California philosophy.”
Grass Valley native Inez Harwood