Slow, long-lasting fashion

‘I love it when random events turn out to be connected and meaningful, and when I discover how all the paths lead in the same direction,’ says Gry, as we talk over a cup of coffee and a croissant in her temporary workspace in the basement of the family’s house.
‘We were actually planning to turn this space into a darkroom,’ says Gry, who is a trained still photographer and a cinematographer. ‘But then I took up marbling, and now it’s my marbling room. Now my husband, Peter, is building a studio for me in the garden, where we originally intended to put up a greenhouse.
The project is dragging on a bit, because we took over the lease of the urban nursery Havero (Garden Calm) at short notice a few months ago.’

I am visiting because Gry has promised to show me how she marbles silk.

It all began when I was looking for silk scarves for the exhibition Dahlman1807 x HÅNDVÆRK bookazine / Rigetta Klint during 3daysofdesign in September 2020. I looked far and wide.

No one in my network has seen as much as a thread of a hand-printed or hand-painted scarf since the 1980s. I was convinced that beautiful hand-painted silk scarves would be just the ticket, not just for me but for many others. Then I remembered saving a screen dump of a scarf I liked six months earlier. I scoured my archive. The scarf was made by Gry under her brand Daggry (Dawn). Her scarves are neither painted nor printed but water-marbled, but still, they were exactly what I was looking for.
Gry was happy to join the Dahlman exhibition, and the audience responded enthusiastically.
I recognize the expression, and even though each artist has his or her own signature, I am reminded of Pernille Snedker, who uses marbling for paper, furniture and floorboards. I met Pernille when I photographed and wrote about her exhibition MIZU at Officinet in Copenhagen in 2019. Mizu means water in Japanese, and the exhibition was inspired by a study tour to Japan, where water marbling originated during the 12th century.

Whether by chance or not, Snedker was among the visitors to the 3days exhibition. Gry is familiar with Pernille’s work and actually filmed in her workshop several years ago, long before she had any thought of practising marbling herself.


On the table in Gry’s studio is an old book bound in marbled paper. Bookbinding is the most common medium for marbling. Like so many other craft disciplines, marbling had all but disappeared but is now being rediscovered and finding new modes and expressions.

‘I don’t know where I got the book,’ says Gry. ‘It is about the history of film. Honestly, I never fully appreciated its beauty until I was on maternity leave with my fourth boychild in 2018. But this book is special; my father was a gardener, and when I was a child, we used to press flowers in old books. I do the same with my boys. When I pulled out the book to read in it, it was full of pressed flowers. I had put them there myself, and the flowers were like a greeting from my childhood.’

‘I was on maternity leave with our eldest son when I applied to the National Film School of Denmark, and he was one year old when I began to study cinematography. I gave birth to our second son two weeks before my graduation in 2011. When I had my second child, I knew that I did not want to put him in preschool until he was about two years old, and I felt the same way when our third son was born in 2016. I looked after him at home for a year and a half until number four joined the family in spring 2018. By then, I had realized that the hours and the pace of the film industry were a poor fit for my notions of a good family life, even though I had a high degree of flexibility as a freelancer.’


‘I am taking a break from the film industry but not from being creative. It is important for me to be able to express myself, and I guess I was on the search for a medium that was compatible with my family circumstances, when I was taken in by the beauty of the marbled book cover. I began to follow Instagram profiles about marbling and to explore the technique myself. In a way, the process is similar to what happens in the darkroom. When I worked as a still photographer, I preferred analogue photography, and I loved the moment when the picture began to emerge in the water.’

‘I soon realized that I was not going to be marbling paper, but the idea of marbling textile really appealed to me. There was very little information about that, whether online or in books. I did find one designer in Los Angeles who creates marbled furnishing fabrics, but she uses marbling as a basis for print designs, and then as now, I wanted to make unique designs, and I wanted to work on silk. However, I did receive a helping hand from a local expert, textile designer Kirsten Lundbergh.’

Another serendipitous connection! When Gry mentions Kirsten, I know that she is the Kirsten who, back in the 1970s, during my childhood and youth, created the most wonderful fashion items in exquisite blues and lilacs. In the Funen countryside, where I lived, I had a teacher who was my grown-up friend. She is the one who taught me wheel-throwing and tie-dyeing. Miss Hansen was her name. Whenever she had been to Copenhagen, she would return with the most beautiful artist smocks by Kirsten Lundbergh. I would have given my right arm for one of those. Kirsten has not made clothes for many years. Today, she gives classes and runs a shop that sells fabrics and textile dye for all purposes to both professionals and amateur enthusiasts.

‘Kirsten knows everything,’ says Gry, ‘and she shares her knowledge generously. Although she hasn’t worked with marbling specifically, she knows her materials, and I am fairly systematic and persistent once I find something I’m passionate about. I spent two years testing, recording, noting and testing again, and all along, Kirsten stood by with advice and feedback. Now I know what I’m doing, I have learnt to master my colours and techniques. That gives me tremendous freedom to seize serendipitous occurrences, now that the basics are in place.’


‘When I got into photography, at the age of 13, I only photographed structures from nature. In a way, my silk marbling reminds me of those early photos. That type of image is pleasing to my eye,’ says Gry. ‘It’s funny; when I was at the National Film School, we had a course where we had to identify the core of our personal expression. What’s at the heart of my expression is always nature.’


Gry demonstrates how she prepares the water in the large, shallow tub. It has to turn into a gel-like substance, called ‘size’ in marbling terminology. ‘You can thicken the water in different ways. Initially, I used a gelling agent extracted from seaweed. The drawback is that the solution begins to smell after a few days, and I feel that a bad odour is incompatible with the exquisiteness of the silk, even though it washes out. Today I use an odourless gelatine for cooking.
The temperature in the room affects the behaviour of the water. If the room is cold, the gel, which carries the colour, becomes too stiff.’ Gry works the water’s surface with calm hand movements. She avoids making bubbles, as every irregularity shows up in the design on the silk. ‘Of course, you can choose to include the bubbles, and sometimes I do,’ she says.

Before being marbled, the textile has to be prepared. Gry mainly creates silk scarves but she also makes fabric for scrunchies and sometimes, on commission, longer lengths of fabric.
First, the textile is washed, then it is placed in ammonium alum (salt) to enable it to absorb the dye. Then it is hung to dry, and once it is dry, it is ironed.
The textile is then placed taut in a frame. ‘Peter constructed a frame for me that I can operate myself. When I first set out, I had a less stable frame, and I had to have my eldest son lend me a hand.’

‘You can use many different types of dyes for marbling. Together with Kirsten I have found my favourite variant. I usually work with two shades of colour at a time. I prepare dye for a batch of five to eight scarves in the same colour scheme. That lets me preserve the uniqueness of the design.’

And now it begins. Gry moves around the tub laying dye on the surface where it forms a unique pattern. ‘The first colour I add will have the strongest effect,’ she explains. Next, she adds a different shade. Gradually, the surface fills with colour.
‘This one is going to be great,’ says Gry, visibly excited with the outcome, and explains, ‘Where the dye is thicker, you can use a feather to make swirls.’ She does so, and a beautiful pattern emerges.

Now the frame with the textile is lowered onto the surface. The fabric picks up the colour, rests a moment to allow the colour to settle and is then pulled off in a single movement.
Now, the textile is rinsed to shed excess dye, drip-dried and finally fixated with an iron.


You established Daggry in January 2019. Where do you see Daggry headed? I wonder. ‘Mass production is not my thing,’ says Gry. ‘What fascinates me is the immersion and creating something unique. It was the same when I was a film maker; in fact, that presented a bit of a dilemma. I was learning to create images and tell stories, using very precise framing, but in real life – at least in the world of TV and commercials – the pace is high, and the priority is to capture as much material as possible and as quickly as possible!

I have several friends in the fashion industry, and some of them have asked me to create fabric for a collection or whether I might be interested in designing clothes. That doesn’t interest me, but I would love to work with designers who want to create one-off pieces from my textiles.
My scarves are sold through the museum shop at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, my scrunchies are sold at Stilleben. I was also represented in the shop at Designmuseum Danmark, which is temporarily closed, and I sell to clients who contact me via Instagram. To the extent I can keep up with demand, I would like to work with a wider circle of retailers.

The respect for good teamwork is one of the lessons I took away from my time in the film industry. The most talented directors know how to set the right team. I would also like to work as part of a team. Right now I don’t miss my “film family”, because I have my own big family right here at home, and I enjoy immersing myself in my marbling, but generally it makes sense to build alliances. That is also our ambition with Havero: we want to bring together a circle of people who can help us turn it into a unique place.’

Som min kommentar til den igangværende modeuge, får du her kvit og frit en artikel fra HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no. 4, artiklen handler om håndlavet, langtidsholdbar mode.

“Jeg elsker, når tilfældighederne viser sig at give mening, når alting hænger sammen, og når jeg opdager, at alle de spor, som er lagt ud, peger i samme retning”, fortæller Gry, da vi drikker kaffe og spiser croissanter i hendes midlertidige residens i kælderen under familiens villa.
Og videre: “Rummet skulle egentlig have været mørkekammer”, Gry er uddannet still-fotograf og filmfotograf, “men så begyndte jeg at marmorere, og så blev det til ‘marbling room’. Nu er min mand Peter ved at bygge et atelier til mig i haven, der hvor vi egentlig skulle have haft drivhus.
Byggeriet trækker lidt ud, for vi overtog ret pludseligt forpagtningen af byplanteskolen Havero for få måneder siden.”

Jeg er på besøg, fordi Gry har lovet at vise mig, hvordan hun marmorerer på silke.

Det begyndte med, at jeg ledte efter silketørklæder til udstillingen Dahlman1807 x HÅNDVÆRK bookazine / Rigetta Klint under 3daysofdesign i september 2020. Jeg søgte vidt og bredt.

Ingen i min nærhed havde set skyggen af et håndtrykt eller håndmalet tørklæde siden 80’erne. Jeg var helt overbevist om, at smukke, håndmalede silketørklæder ville være svaret, ikke bare på mine længsler, men mange andres ditto. Jeg kom i tanke om, at jeg et halvt år forinden havde skærmdumpet et billede af et tørklæde, som faldt i min smag. Jeg ledte i gemmerne. Tørklædet var fra Gry, fra Daggry. Hendes tørklæder er hverken malede eller trykte, de er vandmarmorerede, men de var svaret på min længsler.
Gry ville gerne udstille hos Dahlman, og publikum på udstillingen responderede med begejstring.

Udtrykket genkender jeg, selvom hver kunstner har sin egen signatur, så bliver jeg mindet om Pernille Snedker; hun marmorerer på papir, men også på møbler og træ.

Jeg traf Pernille, da jeg fotograferede og skrev om hendes udstilling “MIZU” i 2019 i Officinet i København. Mizu betyder vand på japansk, og udstillingen tog afsæt i en studierejse til Japan. Vandmarmorering stammer oprindeligt fra Japan og kan dateres tilbage til det 12. århundrede. Tilfældigt eller ej, Pernille Snedker var blandt de besøgende på 3days-udstillingen. Også Gry kender til Pernilles arbejde, hun har filmet på hendes værksted for flere år siden, længe inden hun havde nogen som helst idé om at ville marmorere selv.


På bordet i Grys arbejdsrum ligger der en gammel bog indbundet i marmoreret papir. Det er i bogbinderfaget, man oftest støder på marmorering, eller stødte på. Som med så mange andre håndværksdiscipliner har ‘marbling’ været næsten forsvundet og bliver nu genopdaget og finder nye veje og udtryk.

“Jeg ved ikke, hvor jeg har bogen fra”, siger Gry, “den handler om filmhistorie. Jeg havde helt ærligt ikke skænket dens skønhed nogen opmærksomhed, før jeg var på barsel med mit fjerde drengebarn i 2018. Men der er noget særligt med denne her bog; min far var gartner, og da jeg var barn, pressede vi altid blomster i gamle bøger. Det gør jeg også med mine drenge. Da jeg fandt bogen frem for at læse i den, var den fyldt med pressede blomster. Jeg havde selv placeret dem, og dog var blomsterne som en hilsen fra min barndom.”

“Jeg var på barsel med vores ældste søn, da jeg søgte ind på Den Danske Filmskole, og han var et år, da jeg begyndte at studere til filmfotograf. Vores anden søn fødte jeg 14 dage inden dimissionen i 2011. Da jeg fik nummer to, vidste jeg, at jeg tidligst ville have ham passet ude i toårsalderen, sådan havde jeg det også, da vores tredje søn kom i 2016. Ham gik jeg hjemme med i halvandet år, indtil nummer fire gjorde os selskab i foråret 2018. Det var på det tidspunkt gået op for mig, at arbejdsrytmen i filmbranchen passede ret dårligt sammen med min idé om det gode familieliv, også selvom jeg var freelance og fleksibel.”


“Jeg holder pause fra filmbranchen, men ikke pause fra at være kreativ. Jeg har et stort behov for at udtrykke mig, og jeg var nok på udkig efter et udtryk, som kunne forenes med mine familiære omstændigheder, da jeg blev fortryllet af det marmorerede bogomslags skønhed. Jeg begyndte at følge profiler på Instagram, som marmorerer, og jeg gik selv i gang med at udforske teknikken. Processen minder på en måde om at gå i mørkekammeret.

Da jeg arbejdede som still-fotograf, var jeg gladest for at fotografere analogt, og jeg elskede øjeblikket, hvor billedet blev fremkaldt i vandet.”

“Jeg skulle ikke marmorere papir, vidste jeg hurtigt, derimod var jeg tiltalt af tanken om at marmorere på tekstil. I den sammenhæng fandt jeg hverken den store hjælp på nettet eller i fagbøger. Jeg fandt dog en enkelt designer i LA, som marmorerer på boligtekstiler, men hun bruger det marmorerede som forlæg for print, og jeg ville dengang som nu arbejde med unika og på silke. Jeg fandt derimod en hjælpende hånd i nabolaget hos tekstildesigner Kirsten Lundbergh.”

Yderligere en tilfældig sammenhæng toner frem. Da Gry fortæller om Kirsten, forstår jeg, at hun er den Kirsten, som tilbage i 70’erne, i min barndom og ungdom, skabte de mest vidunderlige beklædningsgenstande i de helt rette blå og lilla toner. På landet på Fyn, hvor jeg boede, var der en lærerinde, hun var min voksenveninde, det var hos hende, jeg lærte at dreje i ler, og jeg lærte at batikfarve. Frøken Hansen hed hun. Når hun havde været i København, kom hun tilbage med de smukkeste kunstnerkitler fra Kirsten Lundbergh. Jeg ville have givet min højre arm for sådan en. Det er mange år siden, Kirsten har lavet tøj, til gengæld har hun en butik, som sælger tekstiler og tekstilfarver til alskens formål, både til professionelle og til entusiastiske amatører, og hun arrangerer kurser. “Kirsten ved alt”, fortæller Gry, “og hun deler beredvilligt ud af sin viden. Ikke at hun selv har marmoreret, men hun kan materialerne, og jeg er selv ret systematisk og stædig, hvis først noget tænder mig. I to år testede jeg, registrerede, noterede og testede mere, indimellem har Kirsten stået der med sparring og råd. Nu kan jeg, jeg har helt styr på min farve og min teknik. Det giver mig en enorm frihed til at gribe øjeblikkets tilfældigheder, når grundforudsætningerne er på plads.”


“Da jeg begyndte at fotografere som 13-årig, fotograferede jeg udelukkende stukturer fra naturen. Mine marmoreringer på silken minder på en måde om de billeder. Mit øje elsker den type af motiv. Det er sjovt”, fortsætter Gry, “da jeg gik på Filmskolen, havde vi et fag, hvor vi skulle finde ind til kernen af vores personlige udtryk. I mit udtryk er der altid natur.”


Gry viser, hvordan hun klargør vandet i det store, flade kar. Det skal blive til en gelé, ‘size’ på marblingsprog. “Man kan fortykke vandet på flere måder.

I begyndelsen brugte jeg et geleringsmiddel udvundet af tang, tangen har den ulempe, at den lugter, når karret har stået i nogle dage, og dårlig lugt er uforenelig med silkens lækkerhed, synes jeg, også selvom lugten kan vaskes ud af tekstilet. Nu bruger jeg en lugtfri gelatine, som er udviklet til fødevarer.
Rumtemperaturen betyder meget for, hvordan vandet opfører sig. Er det koldt, bliver gelen, som skal bære farven, for stiv”. Gry arbejder med rolige bevægelser i overfladen, der må ikke være luftbobler, enhver uregelmæssighed i overfladen aftegnes på motivet. “Man kan selvfølgelig vælge at udnytte boblerne, det gør jeg af og til”, fortæller Gry. Inden tekstilet skal marmoreres, skal det forberedes. Gry arbejder som udgangspunkt på silketørklæder. Desuden laver hun stof til scrunchies. Hun kan også på bestilling lave længere stofbaner. Først vaskes tekstilet ud, derefter lægges det i ammonium alum (salt) for at gøre det modtagelig for farven. Så hænges det til tørre, og når det er tørt, stryges det. Det klargjorte tekstil spændes op på en ramme.

“Peter har konstrueret en ramme til mig, som jeg kan håndtere selv. I starten havde jeg en mindre stabil ramme, og så måtte jeg have min ældste søn til hjælp.”“Man kan bruge mange forskellige typer af farve til marmorering, jeg har i samråd med Kirsten fundet min favorit. Jeg arbejder oftest med to nuancer adgangen. Jeg gør farve klar til et batch på 5-8 tørklæder i samme farveholdning. På den måde bevarer jeg det unikke.”
Nu begynder det, Gry bevæger sig rundt om bassinet og ‘tapper’ farven ned på overfladen, hvor den danner egne mønstre. “Den farve, jeg tapper i først, giver de kraftigste aftegninger”, forklarer hun. Herefter tappes yderligere en nuance i. Fladen er ved at være dækket af farve.

“Det her bliver flot,” siger Gry synligt begejstret over udfaldet og fortsætter, “de steder, hvor der er meget maling, kan man lave ‘hvirvler’ ved hjælp af en fjer”. Det gør hun, og det smukkeste motiv vokser frem.

Nu sænkes rammen med det udspændte tekstil ned over motivet, og farven samles op på materialet, det hviler et øjeblik, for at farven skal sætte sig, og herefter trækkes det af i én bevægelse. Tekstilet skal nu skylles rent for overskudsfarve, hænges til tørre og slutteligt fikseres ved hjælp af strygning.


Du etablerede Daggry i januar 2019. Hvor ser du Daggry være på vej hen, undrer jeg? “Masseproduktion er ikke min ting,” siger Gry. ”Det er det unikke og fordybelsen, som optager mig. Sådan var det også, da jeg lavede film, faktisk lidt et dilemma. Jeg uddannede mig til at lave billeder og til at fortælle historier, til at have en præcis ‘framing’, og ude i virkeligheden, i hvert fald når virkeligheden er TV og reklamefilm, så handler det om tempo og om at få så meget materiale som muligt med hjem på så kort tid som muligt!
Jeg har en del venner i modebranchen, og flere har spurgt, om jeg vil kunne lave metervarer til en kollektion, om jeg kunne tænke mig at designe tøj? Det interesserer mig ikke, jeg vil derimod gerne indgå i samarbejder med designere, som vil lave ‘one-off pieces’ ud af mine tekstiler. Mine tørklæder sælger jeg i museumsbutikken på Louisiana, mine scrunchies hos Stilleben, og jeg har solgt hos den midlertidigt lukkede butik på Danmarks Designmuseum, og så sælger jeg til kunder, som henvender sig via Instagram. I det omfang, jeg kan følge med, må der gerne komme flere forhandlere til. Respekten for det gode samarbejde, det er noget af det, jeg har taget med mig fra filmbranchen, de dygtigste instruktører forstår at sætte deres hold. Jeg vil også gerne arbejde med et hold, lige nu savner jeg ikke ‘filmfamilien’, fordi jeg har en flok hjemme, og jeg nyder fordybelsen i mit helt eget ‘marbling room’, men i øvrigt giver det mening at lave alliancer.
Sådan tænker vi også om Havero, vi skal samle en kreds af mennesker omkring os, som sammen kan udvikle stedet til noget unikt.”