Let it flow with Fluidity by Mattie

“Fluidity by Mattie” creator Mattie Schnieders holds up a piece of fabric that was ice dyed in the community center at Malibu Bluffs Park on Sept. 30. Photos by Trisha Anas.

By Trisha Anas

Special to The Malibu Times

When painting, one wouldn’t normally think about throwing frozen water into the mix.

But last Friday at Malibu Bluffs Park, participants gathered around artist Mattie Schnieders and learned the art and magic of ice dyeing, held by Schnieders and the city’s Community Services Department. 

Ice dyeing, according to Schnieders, is similar to tie dyeing. While the same patterns and designs are used, the actual material of the dye is not.

“Ice dye uses a fiber reactive dye, which means it’s a powdered dye,” Schnieder said. “When you use the ice and you put powder on top of the ice, the ice actually breaks down those different colors and separates them.”

Schnieders started the event by mixing together warm water and scoops of sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash, into a large bucket. Participants then put their fabrics into the mixture while Schnieders showed them how to properly rubber band the fabrics, either with the “spiral” method or the “scrunch” method.

After gathering materials together along with their soaked fabrics, participants had to build a small foil wall-barrier around their fabrics, pour ice cubes on top and sprinkle on their desired powdered dyes. Then the products are set out in the sun until the ice completely melts to reveal unique patterns.

Schnieders said that the uncertainty of the finished product is what she loves about the craft.

“It’s very unpredictable,” Schneiders said. “You can predict the pattern, but not the colors, which is what’s so cool. So, where you might have used a purple and expected it to turn out purple, your end result actually might end up [having] more blues and reds.”

Schnieders said that she was doing other forms of art before getting into ice dyeing.

“One may call me a crafter of all trades,” Schnieder said. “I get bored after a while, doing the same things, so I tend to try new things and fall in love. I got super into [tie dye] and then took an ice dye class just to have some variation. I fell in love.”

Schneider started her project “Fluidity by Mattie,” saying the name came from her initial beginnings in paint pouring and alcohol inking.

“They’re both fluid versions of painting and what I enjoy about them is that you don’t really know what you’re going to get at the end,” Schnieder said. “You can never reproduce [the finished product] the same exact way, so I tend to gravitate toward these art forms.”

Schnieder also said that while tie dye is not necessarily thought of as fluid, she considers it the opposite. She said that she feels like the name continues to suit her ever-changing craft.

“[Fluidity] just happens to keep working out well with the different crafts and art forms that I choose,” Schnieder said.

While this was her first “Fluidity” event in Malibu, Schnieder said she hopes to do a similar event again closer to the winter season. 

More information about Schnieder and her art can be found on her Instagram and on her Etsy shop.