The art of producing natural dyes is one of the oldest art technique known to humans since ancient of times.
India has been an expert in the natural dyeing technique using natural dyes procured from plants, animals and shells since ages. A detailed account is given in the Atharvaveda- one of the four holy Vedas in India.Natural dyes were used as can be seen from the paintings on the walls of the legendary Ajanta and Ellora caves in India.
The dyes are basically obtained naturally from different parts of the plants, animals & shells. The colour produced from the dye plant depends on the season they are picked in. The most intense colour are given by plants when they are in full bloom, like in the early spring.
Since these dyes are naturally obtained they provide important alternatives to synthetic dyes, which have a risk of toxicity, negative influence on the environment and a high allergic potential. Natural dyes are environmental –friendly as well as socially uplifting because locals are employed for its production.
The process of making natural dyes requires adeptness as well as respect towards nature. The plants and their respective parts, which are to be used in the process, are harvested at the right time without hurrying the process through other intrusive methods, which are against nature.
The dyeing process includes 3 steps:
1.The first step is the extraction of the colour matter from the respective plant part, which will yield that colour. Pounding that part and then boiling it in water for 10-20 minutes do the extraction.
2.The second step is to create and establish a strong bond between the colouring matter and the fibre with the help of mordants which are substances used to fix the dye to the fibres of the cloth. They help in better absorption of the dye by the fibres and improve the colourfastness. They are metallic salt of Aluminium, Copper, and Iron etc.; Vegetable dyes require mordants.
3.The third step is to dye the fibres in that respective colour obtained. The fibres are first thoroughly washed and then they are immersed in the dye extract along with the mordant at the required different temperatures for about 30-40 minutes. After this the fibres are squeezed of the excess dye solution and dried naturally.
I would like to share with you a very precise video showing the natural extraction of the Indigo dye by the locals employed at KMA Exports in south India.Here is the link below:
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‘KMA exports is one of the Oldest and Largest manufacturer of Indigo Dye (Blue Gold) and Indigo leaves & powder (Hair dye). Its been three generations since we started this Indigo business. This traditional method results in producing the purest form of Indigo dye in an eco-friendly manner. Indigofera Tinctoria plant is considered to be very valuable in our Kongarapattu Village, Tamil Nadu, India.”
There are many,many natural resources from which natural dyes are obtained but listed here below are just a few of the plants and animal resources through which they are obtained:
1.The Lac dye which is red in colour is obtained from the residual resinous cocoon of Lacifer Lacca insects. Different shades can be obtained using different mordants like shades of red,purple,olive green and amethyst.
2.This is the Harda plant.the dye is made using the fruit of the Harda plant.It gives shades of yellow and grey using different mordants.
3.The whole plant of indigo ferra tinctoria is used for the extraction of the dye indigo blue
4.The bark of the Catechu tree is used in the making of the dye.It gives brown,yellow,grey and black shades.
5.The fruit rind of the pomegranate is used in the making of the dye.It gives us a yellow coloured dye.
6.The Madder plant is one of the oldest source of natural dye. Its red roots are used to extract the dye.You get beautiful shades of red,orange and pink with this dye.
The list is endless.We have been blessed and taken well care of by Mother Nature. All the aspects of our requirements have been well provided by her. It is up to us to care of her in return.
Be thoughtful.Go Natural.
Long Live Incredible hands!