The colour applied to a fabric to change its colour. The colour of a fabric.

Natural v. chemical dyes

Natural dyes tell stories, of colour and of people of landscape  and of the nature  and joy of work.  Textiles made with natural dyes have the same stories. From Cosi…

“In a wonderful meeting of flora indigenous to the Himalayan region, such plants as the dusty pink dhuopi, the minty sage teti leaf, the mustard suna leaf, the khaki halu wabed berry and the vibrant pink laha from the high-altitude saning tree lend their colourful character to fellow plant fibres, to create contemporary pieces that are rooted in nature”    

* A textile made with natural dyes has life, the life of existence beauty and sensitivity, which pleases the eye and lifts the spirits at every sighting–inherent characteristics that will never be possible with chemical dye.

* There is no need other than commercial consideration  to use chemical dyes in textiles, the earth is almost over abundant with natural resources, that either occur naturally or can be harvested, with enough minerals and vegetation to create every imaginable colour–and probably some beyond the scope of our imagination.

* The simplicity of the natural dyeing process is a revelation, a real eye-opener and incentive to work for change, even more so when we realise the damage that chemical dyes are inflicting upon our world’s health and welfare.

* The part of the plant that releases colour–for example onion skins–is boiled until it produces the depth of colour required. Cloth is added, along with a mordant (salt, tin, copper, iron, alum…), which fixes the dye without leaving any trace in the waste water. Once the cloth has turned the intended colour it is removed, washed in a neutral soap solution and dried. Of course different plants require different processes to extract their colours, but none are complicated or detrimental.

With natural dyes there are no chemicals, there is no pollution as they break down to return to the soil creating no negative impact on the earth. And the colours are more pleasing.


* Natural eyes and dyeing processes are in every way kinder to the environment.

 * It seems that perhaps the india that gave us colour as print might also lead a revival for natural dying.   At Aranya, young people are being taught to dye yarns and fabrics with leaves, roots, barks and seeds, sawdust and tea waste–including arjun, goran, pomegranite, catechu, jackfruit, eucalyptus, mulberry leaves,     Nilgirl kozha, lemon grass and pine cones, henna and indigo to make natural dyes

“The other major philosophy… to use items which would be under normal circumstances considered to be vegetable wastes. For example rinds of pomegranate, almonds, onions walnuts, etc., or rose petals, waste tea leaves or eucalyptus leaves, plumb leaves, catechu waste, etc.

Raw materials used at Kullu Karishma

“Nature in her bountiful beauty has been our constant source of inspiration.”

Ratna Krishna Kumar and Tata tea.




ref: Sarah Burnett

See also tie dye, natural dyes, tea dying, coffee, blueberry

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