ECO-DESIGNS

HOW TO HANDLE “NATURAL” PIGMENTS AND DYES

ECO-FRIENDLY PIGMENTS

Since we started with our ECO-FRIENDLY SERIES based on natural pigments, we came to know about several natural color imparting substances on our planet which can prove really effective in carving out an alternative for synthetic coloring. Being Eco-friendly, these pigments are Sustainable, Bio-degradable and non-toxic for human use.

We have talked about three main sources of obtaining natural pigments:

WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE ECO-DYES ?

BECAUSE EARTH IS FIRST

Living in the era of tremendous environmental loss, the need of the hour is to create awareness about the challenges to the environment and playing our part to safeguard our Earth. Just doing small changes in our lifestyle we can do great help to our upcoming generations and give them a happy place to live in.

One such small practice is choosing naturally dyed fabric over regular synthetic one, as it is –

  1. Eco-friendly
  2. Less pollution generation
  3. Non-toxic
  4. Non-allergic
  5. Non-carcinogenic
  6. Easy to prepare
  7. Biodegradable
  8. Easy to dispose

We must encourage the indigenous communities who are making tremendous efforts to safeguard natural resources.

HOW TO ACTUALLY WORK WITH ECO-DYES

Eco-friendly dyes can yield a full palette of colors by treating them with different mordants and with different combinations. Natural dyes offers us an exciting color range right from

  • subtle pastels to tan colors in cotton
  • rich bright colors in silks
  • linens in earthy neutral tones
  • the bright spring shades of printed calico

THE DYEING PROCESS

Process of extracting natural colors and dying your fabric greatly varies depending upon the following :

  • Source of pigment- Plant, Animal or Mineral
  • State of pigment source- Solid or Liquid
  • Type of fabric used
  • Mordant engaged
  • Soaking time
  • Repetition of dying process for obtaining required color.
Photo by julian mora on Unsplash

Here I brings to you some awesome DIYs to try at home and create your own naturally dyed clothing stuff. Some videos do share ancient techniques for color extraction.

DIY FOR PLANT BASED PIGMENTS

These are herbal colors or vegetable dyes extracted from parts of plant like flowers, woods, nuts, seeds, berries, barks, roots and sometimes other biological sources like certain fungi or lichens. Different species of plant use different type of mordants (bond between color and fabric) which thereby fixes a color to the fabric.

These dyes are best suited for fabrics like cotton, linen, wool, silk, jute, ramie and sisal.

https://youtu.be/CejVuJK9jL8 Verena shared this beautiful vegetable dye DIY- How you can naturally dye clothing just using things from the grocery store! In this video she shares a couple pieces dyed using yellow onion skins and red cabbage.

https://youtu.be/z83a0s-576g Natural Dyeing Process – Design Studio 1

https://youtu.be/WTUdPdQkfnk 9 DIY natural plant dyes | Botanical Eco-friendly fabric dyes | Vinegar vs Alum for colorfastness. These natural fabric dyes can be used to dye any natural fibers – wool, silk, cotton

DIY FOR ANIMAL BASED PIGMENTS

Animal dye is a source of natural dye extracted from the secretions and dried bodies of animals or Insects or microbes. In China, dyeing with plants, barks and insects has been traced back more than 5,000 years. The history of animal dyes dates back to Mayan Civilization. However, microbial dye is certainly a recent approach. A large number of different species of bacteria, yeast, mold and algae produce pigments for economical dyes.

https://youtu.be/_HpCrQEkTk4 Lac dyeing- Master artisans, specialist in weaving the Traditional IKAT silks of Cambodia

https://youtu.be/U_2nCnmX36U A master weaver from Oaxaca, Mexico, demonstrates the unique properties of cochineal dye (carmine)

DIY FOR MINERAL BASED PIGMENTS

Minerals are inorganic compounds abundantly given by Mother Earth and are rich sources of metallic ions, mineral salts and metal oxides and sometimes used for extraction of certain pigments to dye a yarnEarth pigments are known for their light-fastness (how resistant to fading it is when exposed to light) and fast drying.

Minerals are drawn out by mining and exploration techniques and once extracted the pigment is suspended in a medium and the medium bonds with the cloth. These mineral pigments works best with natural fabrics like cotton, linen, hemp, wool, and silk.

https://youtu.be/6k8JEEP0QNg Caroline Nicolay guides you through how to make your very own ancient earth pigment, explaining the cultural context behind each colour.

https://youtu.be/6qkRTgnC7lA Watch artist, Jenay Elder, mix her own natural and non-toxic oil paints using pure earth pigments, walnut oil and Eco-Solve.
https://youtu.be/Yu70lO1oqXw The following video depicts the process of making oil paint as it was practiced before the advent of modern machinery.

TAKING CARE OF YOUR NATURALLY DYED FABRIC:

  • DIRECT SUNLIGHT: Prolong sun exposure can lead to discoloration of naturally dyed fabric. Store these clothes where it sees as little light as possible. While drying, use a shaded are to ensure that the color lasts longer.
  • DETERGENTS: To prevent the hand dyed cotton, linen or silk, avoid using hard chemical detergents on them while washing. If washing in washing machine try to use a mild, non-bleach based detergent and set the machine to a cold wash setting.
  • DO NOT Bleach.
  • Avoid direct contact of naturally dyed fabric with an acid including lemons and vinegar.
  • Try to wash light and dark colored clothes separately.
  • Always iron the fabric INSIDE OUT at low to moderate temperature.
  • Always check colorfastness before washing.

MY VISIT TO A HANDLOOM SITE, NEEMUCH (M.P.)

During my visit to Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh I came across a small village named, TARAPUR on the bank of Gambhiri river. The village is known for celebrating art and culture and continuously working with natural colors for more than 200 years. Now the village is Under the supervision of MP Handicrafts and Loom Corporation. Dozens of artisans here not only revive the special art of printing on clothes, but have also brought it recognition all over the world.

The place is known for DABU, ALIZARIN and NANDANA print, types of block printing techniques on silk-chiffon and other fabrics all dyed with natural colors. Natural dye are prepared as:

  • Black dye is made by fermenting a mix of iron rust, betel leaves, mahua flowers, besan or chickpea flour, jaggery and water in an earthen vat for close to a month. But the cloth has to undergo elaborate treatment before applying the dye.
  • Yellow color is produced with pomegranate peels and light yellow from the pot of myrobalan or cherry plum.
  • Blue color from alum and indigo plant.
  • Red and similar colors are prepared from the local flowers and harad.

The slurry is prepared by mixing black soil, gum and lime. Later, with the help of these, the fabric is printed with natural colors.

NATURAL BLACK AND RED DYE
SUN-DRYING FRESHLY DYED FABRICS
CREATING INDIGO DYE
WOODEN BLOCKS USED FOR DABU PRINTS
FINAL FABRIC READY FOR SALE

DEPLETION OF NATURAL ANCIENT DYES:

Beginning of 20th century, marked the rapid development in the production of synthetic dyes or chemical dyes. With the advent of synthetic dyes, the limitation of natural dyes became louder. People started to choose more economical, easy to access and vibrant color imparting chemical dyes.

I agree very much about the complexities that natural dyes carries with itself
* Difficult cropping of dye producing material
* Poor knowledge about dye yielding plants
* Complex dyeing process
* Limited number of dyes
* Poor color yield
* Inadequate fastness properties
makes these dyes less popular and led to the depletion of huge natural dye industry.

HOWEVER,

Simply because of some downsides we can not deny the sustainable part played by natural dyes in human life. With the increased issue of environmental pollution and other ecological concerns over the current years, these natural dyes are now witnessing slow but steady revival phase. People are becoming more concerned about toxic chemicals, pollutants and hazardous substances for humans and mother Earth. Environmental enthusiasts, institutions/organizations, Government and individuals are avoiding chemically more hazardous synthetic dyes and intermediates.

Day by day in export market, demands for natural dyed natural textiles are being increased. Green dyeing, came as an employment opportunity for several NGOs, local weaver, craftsmen, farmers, small scale cottage industries, dyers society, textile designers, upcoming green industries and many more.

Revival of natural Indian dyes

India shares a long royal past with eco-friendly dyes. Dyers from India were supreme in dyeing cotton. We have a rich handicraft industry where number of local talents are involved daily in dyeing yarns and fabrics with natural compounds, where several products are famous worldwide like Kalamkari print and Bagru print (all dyed with natural or vegetable colors).

KALAMKARI SAREE- HANDPRINTED WITH NATURAL DYES

Global awareness regarding hazardous impact of synthetic dyes leads both producers and consumers to gradually rediscover the benefits and beauty of natural dyes. Thanks to the fashion industry working harder for bring in the client attention towards pastels and more earthy-raw and irregular look in the garment, which can be easily achieved from natural dyes. It is also reviving the traditional methods of processing dyes on fabric, reinstating the dyer artisans and local craftsmen. Farmer’s also stand to gain by growing crops of dye yielding plants.

Natural dyes are high in demand in the international market as to promote sustainable fashion. Different countries other than India like Turkey, Korea, Mexico, several countries of Africa have embraced the uses of natural dyes. most of these dyes remain important for artists, craftspeople, and niche producers.

Hope you enjoy reading the post. Do share, follow and write to us about your eco-friendly journey.

MIGHT ALSO LIKE : BAGRU HANDBLOCK PRINT

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