Art of Natural Dyeing is a long lost art form dating back to Neolithic Age. It is done using natural dyes and colors. Natural dyes are dyes or colorants derived from plants, invertebrates, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources—roots, berries, bark, leaves, and wood—and other biological sources such as fungi.
Exploring the Roots of Natural Dyeing:
Archaeologists have found evidence of textile dyeing dating back to the Neolithic period. In China, dyeing with plants, barks, and insects has been traced back more than 5,000 years. The essential process of dyeing changed little over time.
Typically, the dye material is put in a pot of water and heated to extract the dye compounds into solution with the water. Then the textiles to be dyed are added to the pot and held at heat until the desired color is achieved. Textile fiber may be dyed before spinning or weaving (“dyed in the wool”), after spinning (“yarn-dyed”) or after weaving (“piece-dyed”).
Many natural dyes require the use of substances called mordants to bind the dye to the textile fibers. Mordants are metal salts that can form a stable molecular coordination complex with both natural dyes and natural fibers. Historically, the most common mordants were alum and iron.
Throughout history, people have dyed their textiles using common, locally available materials. Plant-based dyes such as wood, indigo, saffron, and madder were raised commercially and were important trade goods in the economies of Asia, Africa, and Europe.
The discovery of man-made synthetic dyes in the mid-19th century triggered a long decline in the large-scale market for natural dyes. Synthetic dyes, which could be quickly produced in large quantities, quickly superseded natural dyes for the commercial textile production enabled by the industrial revolution, and unlike natural dyes, were suitable for the synthetic fibers that followed. Synthetic dyes were definitely cheaper and largely available, but it came with a long list of cons.
Disadvantages of Chemical Dyes became the advantages of Natural Dyes, which are as follows:
- Natural Dyes are not only biodegradable but nontoxic and non-allergic too. This means that they are much better for the environment and for use around humans.
- It is easy to extract the natural color from plants, fruits, or flowers. Many natural dyes also have antimicrobial properties, making them safer for kids in particular.
- Natural dyes neither contain harmful chemicals nor carcinogenic components, common to artificial or synthetic dyes. By using natural dyes over these other choices, you are helping preserve the environment and lowering human dependence on harmful products. When toxic runoff and residuals from the textile manufacturing and dyeing process often end up in our delicate oceans, we should do all we can to ensure we are using the nontoxic alternative, natural dyes.
- The products used in producing natural dyes, particularly plants, produce no waste, unlike the products used in the synthetic dyeing process. This is because plants bypass the entire production process it takes to create synthetic dyes. This is yet another reason why natural dyes are infinitely better for the environment.
- Natural dyes provide higher UV absorption in the fabrics they are used on. By wearing clothes dyed naturally, you are able to more fully protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Better livelihood for workers. We know that most of the men and women dyeing our clothing are contracting diseases or even dying because of close contact, polluted air, and drinking water that has been completely contaminated by the toxic chemicals. Since natural dyes are, well, natural they provide much less of a health risk to the dyer and those living near dye factories.
Revival of Natural Dyeing and Printing:
The indigenous art of natural dyeing has declined manifold due to invasion of the use of synthetic dyes.
Fortunately, in recent times, there has been a major upsurge and shift in the demand for textiles colorant with comparison to natural dyes as more people are understanding the importance of developing a sustainable environment. Natural dyes are also very appealing and add value in terms of aesthetics to the look of fabrics, textiles, and garments. More and more designers and fashion houses are shifting to the use of naturally dyed products. The demand for natural dyeing is slowly but surely emerging.
Natural Dye Extractions:
The art of Natural dyeing comprises of colorants that are obtained from leaves, flowers, barks of trees, and spices without any chemical processing.
The dye materials are extracted from the plants and boiled in the water until it obtains a thick consistency, making a dye bath. Here are some of the leaves from which the dye is obtained:
- EUCALYPTUS (EUCALYPTUS GLOBULAS)
- TEA (CAMELLIA SINENSIS)
- COFFEE (COFFEA CANEPHORA)
- HARDA/MYROBOLAN (TERMINALIA CHEBULA)
- INDIGO (INDIGOFERA TINCTORIA)
- Flowers and Vegetables:
The flower petals are extracted and boiled and stirred well. The temperature is raised to boiling plant and the solution is boiled for a decided time till the solution is thicker. Some of the flowers and vegetables from which the dye is obtained are listed below:
- Marigold (TAGETES)
- Hibiscus (HIBISCUS ROSA-SINENSIS)
- Onion peels (ALLIUM CEPA)
- Barks of trees:
The bark is removed and then the heartwood is made into wood chips. The dye is extracted by boiling the wood chips in water until the liquid becomes very thick. It is then poured onto mats, where the cutch extract hardens as it cools down and can be broken into chunks. The trees from which the dye is obtained are:
- Manjistha (RUBIA CORDIFOLIA)
- Catechu (SENAGALIA CATECHU)
- Fruit :
Natural Dye is obtained from Pomegranate Rinds (PUNICA GRANATUM). The skin of the fruit is dried in sunlight for 10 days and then, is ground into powder. The powder is sieved and the dust is obtained, furthermore boiling till the solution becomes thicker.
Natural Dye is obtained from Turmeric (CURCUMALONGA). Small turmeric pieces are taken and boiled. The dye material is immersed in the dye bath while constantly stirring it.
Eco Clothing India is dedicated to creating an ecosystem of sustainable fashion wear. We try to make every aspect of our products sustainable and eco-friendly by using everything natural. We are trying to revive the art of natural dyeing with this initiative. From our fabrics to our color dyes, everything is certified chemical-free.