Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Nadia Pinder

Nadia Pinder realized she had a thing for tie-dye about a year and a half ago, when her roommates brought home dyeing supplies and…she just never stopped using them. Now she has StuyDYED, a her own tie-dye brand for which she makes all manner of dyed sweatshirts, bandannas, crop tops, wall hangings, and so much more. For a long time dyeing was something she did for fun, she tells me as we sip tea, but after realizing there was a demand for hand-dyed pieces, she started to think about its possibilities as a real business venture.

In her room is a treasure trove of creations, a shelving unit filled with clothes swirled with lilac, powder blue, magenta, lemon, and sage tones. On the walls are also paintings she’s made, an expanse of eucalyptus, and drawings she’s done for her summertime comedy series called “Comedians in a Blanket,” for which she invites comedians to perform in a picnic-like setting under a tree in Prospect Park.

After we finish our teas, she soaks some white clothing in a mixture of water and soda ash for a later activity: ice dyeing and tie-dyeing. But while the garments soak, it’s time to vote! Nadia is from Washington, D.C. originally, and she voted in New York for the first time last November. She found the voting process encouraging, being hugged by local ladies volunteering after walking into her public library to cast her ballot. The same thing happens today, when a woman with long braids gives her a big hug and kiss on the cheek and a “Welcome, baby!” as if she were home for the holidays. Nadia beams as she checks in and then makes her selections. Upon leaving, she’s given another big hug and an official “I Voted” sticker. Her smile somehow gets even bigger, the voting process now infused with a sweetness and warmth that carries her back home.

Garments thoroughly soaked, it’s time to dye. Nadia sits a grated plastic basket inside a plastic washbin and places a shirt inside. She either twists or folds or scrunches it into some shape that will uniquely absorb the dye, then covers the shirt in ice. She then gently taps a series of dye powders over the ice—antique gold, brilliant orange, cobalt blue—so as the ice melts the dye will find its way into the fabric in an unusual way. I get to do my own as well, with hot pink, raspberry, and violet. Her hands are constantly stained with dye, she laughs. I’ve joined the club, too.

While the ice dye runs its course, Nadia and I climb the slim ladder up to her roof to do some tie-dye. She gets almost all the way set up when it starts to rain, so we decide to have lunch instead at Saraghina, a gourmet pizza place not far away. In between delicious, chewy bites of squash, ricotta, caramelized shallot, and sage pizza, we talk about our favorite meals, our hands still stained with dye.

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