dye from nature

Scarves with paint from nature

In our store there are scarves with paint from nature.
In this way we contribute to a sustainable planet.
We learned how dyes are extracted from plants, flowers, fruit and trees when we drove through Thailand in search of beautiful cotton scarves.
This is what we know now.

Nature often pays a high price

Paint from the Indigo plant
Indigo blue dye

We recently saw that nature often pays a high price for economic activity in a region in a report about making fast fashion.

We saw a small village near a textile factory in Myanmar.

The water of the village river was fluorescent red in color.
Residents said it had been years since a fish had swam in it.
Everything was dead.
The consequences of mass consumption came into sharp focus.

But we learned that things can also be done differently during our search for beautiful scarves in Thailand.

Paint lesson in Loei

Indigo plants provide blue paint
Indigo plants are used to make indigo blue paint

One of the first cities we visited was Loei. There we came into contact with Dan who told us about dyeing with natural dyes.

The craft of making paint from nature is centuries old. Due to the rise of fast fashion, the techniques have come under more and more pressure in recent decades.
Now that there is more attention for the environment, old, non-polluting painting techniques are being used more often.

Dan showed us how he makes blue paint from the leaves of the Indigo plant. With this paint he colors the cotton that he brings to rural women in the villages around Loei. The ladies make the shawls from the cotton.

This first introduction made us enthusiastic about dyeing with natural dyes.
This first introduction made us enthusiastic about dyeing with natural dyes.

How do you make natural dye?

Depending on the raw material used, there are different techniques for making dye.

  • Leaves, flowers and plants are usually soaked in cold water.
  • Bacteria, fungi and oxygen soon start the fermentation process.
  • Over time, the dye can be scooped out of the water.

The fermentation process is delicate, complicated and takes time.

Bark, roots and wood are boiled to extract the color.

Where our colors come from

The weavers taught us a lot about the raw materials for dyeing colours.
These are the most important.

Orange:Volcanic earth
Brown: Bark, coconut
Pink: sappan tree bark, berries, flowers
Blue:Indigo plant
Reddish brown :beets, hibiscus
Grey/Black:Blackberry, trunk of the myrobalan tree, ebony
Red purple: Berries, mangosteen
Green:leaf of the mulberry bush
Dark green:leaf of mango tree, eucalyptus tree, grass, nettles,
Yellow:turmeric, wood of mango tree, bay leaves, flowers, yellow roots, wood of jackfruit tree

Dye before or after weaving

drying the dyed yarn

Most scarves are dyed before weaving.
Depending on how dark it should be, the spun yarn is given a number of color baths.
Tussen het verven door hangt het garen te drogen op lange bamboestokken.
Sometimes the woven fabric is dyed.
Often it is to get a certain drawing or (batik) pattern.

Often it is to get a certain drawing or (batik) pattern.

At the time, we didn’t know that the environment would play an important role in the scarves we were going to sell.
We were initially impressed by the quality of the handicraft. Supporting poor farmers was also an important motivation for us.

Visiting the makers of this beautiful cotton handicraft taught us more about sustainable dyeing. Their drive and enthusiasm mean that we are now making more room in our range for scarves with natural dyes.

These people taught us that contributing to a better world and caring for nature costs little.
We are happy to pass on their message through these cotton scarves.

Read also: what is an eco-scarf

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