Heard of Natural colors or natural dyes? Well, it’s majorly used dyeing technique in the growing world of ‘Organic, Slow and Sustainable Fashion’. When we discuss organic and nature-friendly products and clothing, Natural dye is one of the most important parts of the process to understand.
Natural dyes are derived from natural sources such as plants, vegetables, minerals, and wood. Majority dyes are sourced from plants in forms of leaves, roots, wood, berries, bark, etc…
Shades of yellows can be developed from turmeric, pomegranate, and saffron Blues (known as Indigo) are made from Indigofera. India is believed to be the oldest center of indigo dyeing in the Old World. It was a primary supplier of indigo dye to countries like Europe and the USA.
Reds and Pinks, variety of plants produce red dyes. Avocado pits, henna, asafoetida, Rubia to name a few are the major sources of red dyes that can be converted in shades of pinks and orange.
Cutch is an ancient brown dye from the wood of acacia trees, particularly Acacia catechu used in India for dyeing cotton. Cutch gives grey-browns with an iron mordant and olive- browns with copper. Black walnut is also used to create brown shades.
There are plenty of shades like crimson, scarlet, purple, greens, peach… which can be extracted from numbers of natural sources.
The process of dyeing with natural colors varies per fabric. It requires soaking the material containing the dye in water, adding the fabric to be dyed to the resulting solution (the dyebath), and bringing the solution to a simmer for an extended period, (in days or even weeks) stirring occasionally until the color has evenly transferred to the material.
Adjective dyes are required to fix the colors on textiles. Salt, vinegar, tannin, oak, potash, and ammonia help dyes to fix in fibers and increase the fastness of colors.
The mordants used in dyeing and many dyestuffs themselves give off strong and unpleasant odor, and the actual process of dyeing requires a good supply of freshwater, storage areas for plant materials, pots which can be kept heated (often for days or weeks) along with the necessary fuel, and airy spaces to dry the dyed textiles.
Tie-dye, batik, bandhej, and leheria are some of the craft forms which can be modified from the dyeing process to develop unique prints.