Amanda Morales, the artist behind Wildcolor, combines her love of nature with a deep respect for previously-loved fabrics to create bespoke textiles and garments. From non-profit work to becoming a thriving artist, Amanda offers a unique perspective on the art of natural dyeing, craftsmanship, and sustainability.
Growing up in a family where art was cherished, Amanda’s creative spirit found its home early on. Her mother’s love for painting prompted Amanda’s foray into watercolor art, the first of many creative outlets. She then developed a curiosity in textiles and a penchant for sewing from her grandmother, laying the foundation for Wildcolor. As an adult, however, there was one more element needed—free time. A company restructure in 2020 was the opportunity Amanda needed to turn her passion into a profession. “It was such a gift,” Amanda says, “because it was like the first time that I had ever had time.”
She channeled this newfound freedom into developing Wildcolor, diving into the world of natural dyeing using foraged plants and other organic materials, mostly found near her studio in Park Slope, Brooklyn. And it’s not just the dye supplies that Amanda sources locally, but her textiles as well. “My first series of quilts are pretty much all made with materials I had gotten within a square block of here, either at thrift stores or on the street,” says Amanda. “I’m very interested in taking things that have been discarded or ignored. It’s just fun. And it also feels kind of useful in a way. Like, what are we doing? There’s all this stuff in the world. Let’s just put it back together.”
As Amanda honed her skills in natural dyeing and crafting, she did not shy away from the imperfections that come from artisanal dyeing. One-of-a-kind pieces are inevitable when working with the materials that Amanda does. All of Wildcolor’s products celebrate the variations that come from an artisanal dyeing process using materials like flowers and avocado pits. “It’s not ever going to be exactly the same. The dye material is different. The weather can be different. The water can be different. So you need customers that are cool with that. If you are not cool with that, this is not going to be the kind of thing that you want to buy. If that’s really important to you, then you should buy synthetic.”
Throughout her time operating Wildcolor, Amanda’s had people hire her to craft quilts that include clothing from a departed loved one, or reflect a friend’s favorite book cover. While quilts remain her favorite craft, she has also expanded her repertoire to include t-shirts, scrunchies, zip pouches, socks, and various custom pieces.
Amanda’s commitment to fostering creativity extends beyond her own studio. She has a deep passion for passing on her knowledge and skills to the next generation of artists. In addition to her artistry, she finds immense joy in teaching children the art of textile weaving, sewing, and dyeing at the Textile Arts Center in Park Slope. She envisions a future where Wildcolor can expand its horizons, like collaborating with community gardens to grow her own materials for her natural dyes, or seeing her silk pillowcases grace the shelves of luxury retail stores like Bergdorf Goodman.
Each of Wildcolor’s pieces showcases the parts that make up Amanda, the artist. Her work is a true reflection of her urban roots and love of nature, inspired by growing up in Queens and spending summers in upstate New York. Some of the colors and patterns she uses, Amanda notes, are inspired by her Puerto Rican heritage from her father’s side. In addition, her process is utterly her own. “I think a lot of the natural dye world is very, ‘I’m in my garden in Northern California growing my flowers.’ Very beautiful,” Amanda says. “But that isn’t who I am. I’m foraging on the corner of the street and picking something up from a stoop.”