All our colours are derived from the land around us, sustainably sourced from the bark of trees or the root of a plant. A gentle alchemy of active and reactive natural substances are aided by wondrous bacteria, They are not concocted in a lab but are an organic part of the cycle of life. This connection to the natural world makes our colours have a beautiful variance in their expression.
Most of the colours come from medicinal plants used in healing wraps or tinctures in the practise of Ayurveda. Our fabrics also have anti microbial qualities because of the breathable and medicinal nature of the fabric.
We do not want to live in a world of replicable uniformity or a "seasonal" colour, instead we find value in our natural landscapes, of the joy of knowing that the way forward is by retracing our steps closer to the source.
Natural Indigo (Indigofera Tinctoria)
Dye colour: Blue tones
The earliest example of indigo comes from the Indus Valley Civilization (3300 -1300 BC) where archaeologists recovered seeds of at least 4 different species of the genus Indigofera from the site. There are at least 50 different species of Indigofera growing in India. The Greeks called this blue pigment ‘indikon’, meaning a product from India, and this word became indigo in English. Another ancient term for the dye is ‘nili’ from the Sanskrit meaning dark blue from which the Arabic term for blue ‘al-nil’ is derived.
Tamil Indigo produces a very vibrant blue. Indigo is almost always used in creating a true black or vibrant green.
No fertiliser is used in the indigo fields, as this plant belongs to the legume family and captures atmospheric nitrogen for its growth and is also routinely used in crop rotation to replenish the soil and after pigment extraction, the leaves are returned back to fields they are harvested from. Indigo can be harvested three times a year. It is a magical dye capable of enchanting you with its hues depending on how many times its dipped, its resilience and graceful ageing. You will love your Indigo dyed garment every step of the way. I could go on.
Neelini or Indigo tinctoria is used to treat a wide variety of skin conditions and is considered to have a cooling effect.
Madder (Rubia Cordifolia) Dye colour: Lightest Pink to deep Turkish Red tones.
Early evidence of dyeing comes from the archaeological site at Mohenjo-daro (3300 -1300 BC). In Sanskrit, this plant is known by the name Manjishtha. It was used by hermits to dye their clothes saffron.
Madder has been used both as a wearable and drinkable medicine for centuries. Manjistha, a form of madder made into a tea or tincture, is prescribed as a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial in India, as well as an aid in digestion and stress relief. It is also used as topically to heal bruises and chronic skin conditions.
Flame of the forest / Palash or Dhak (Butea Monosperma)
Dye Colour: Red, Yellow and Pink tones
This tree forms one of my earlier memories, a bright orange red flame of flowers in a sea of green. Every part of this tree used, its leaves for plates or bowls, its gum is valued for its tannins and is also used in some dishes, its wood is good for making vessels and its distinctive flowers have been used for millennia as a dye.
A Paste of its seeds is used to treat skin disorders, Edema and eye diseases. Oil of Palash seeds is useful in treating Rheumatism. Flowers of this tree are antiseptic in nature.
Dye colour - Greens and Muddy tones
Punica granatum is from the family Punicacea. It grows in all warm countries of the world and was originally a native of Persia, The main coloring agent in the pomegranate peel is granatonine, This compound gives colour to the dye.
It is combined with Indigo to make vibrant greens.Pomegranate is anti oxidant rich and its extracts are used to treat a wide variety of skin ailments, stress related disorders and has natural uv blocking qualities.
Noni Bark (Morinda Citrifolia)
Dye Colours - Reds and Maroon tones
Indigenous to Southeast asia, noni (Morinda citrifolia) was domesticated and cultivated by Polynesians, Today noni ranges from Tahiti to India, Its broad dispersal speaks of its value to traditional cultures. The name “noni” is Polynesian.
The dyeing process is complicated, and far from being fully understood. It involves a two-phase mordanting process - the first requiring a vegetable oil and alkali, the second a source of aluminium and more alkali. The primary colorant is morindone, a member of the important anthraquinone family of dyestuffs. Even with a mordant, this binds weakly to cotton because cellulose is so inert. Consequently multiple stages of pre-mordanting, dyeing and drying are required to build up a deep colour.
It is used for all types of inflammation like arthirits or ulcers and is used in poultices for deep wounds or sprained limbs.
Dye Colours - Yellow and orange tones
Marigold is ubiquitous in Indian culture and used in weddings and temples, I have so many pleasant memories of stringing garlands for a wedding with their familar scent.Supports skin healing containing natural antiseptic/anti-inflammatory properties. Comprises pre-cursors to the production of antioxidant Vitamin A and reduces eye infections and protects from UV and oxidative damage. Helps to soothe the mucus membranes of the throat whilst easing the pain.
Dye Colours - Brown tones
We love drinking chai in India and in this case specifically tea dust of black tea is used, which is a by-product of the tea industry. An aqueous extract of tea, containing tannins as the main colorant is used as the dye stuff. The tannins found in tea are called thearubigins, a class of chemicals which includes theaflavins. These chemicals are formed in black tea when the antioxidants become oxidized. It is a total process of room temperature dyeing only the extract is prepared by boiling while the rest can be done at room temperature aka energy saving!
Dye Colours - Purple and Violet tones
Alkanet – alkanna tinctoria or dyer’s alkanet is a very attractive purple colourant that is found in the roots of plants belonging to the borage family. It grows uncultivated throughout central Europe and extends to central Asia and North Africa.
It yields the red dyes alkannan a
ndalkannin; used as a coloring agent; also used, combined wi th tannin, as an astringent.
It is known to have antibiotic and wound-healing p
Iron and Palm sugar (Jaggery)
Dye Colours - Black and Grey tones
The primary way of using iron is fermenting with Jaggery over the course of a few weeks using scavenged rusty iron filings, nails or any bits deemed unsalvageable.