Colours from Nature is the most natural way of applying colour. Be it the cavemen or great artists of our time, each one has paved their way from being inspired from nature or taking its colours directly.
There are many ways of how we can use them. We can use these flower petals as our most direct colour filled brush or like the Egyptians, process a group of materials with other natural resources and prepare something that does not exist directly in the environment.
Why powders? Many of you must wonder that why do we need to powder these things when we can use the material as it is. Personally, powdering is a way of preservation. Seasonal produce, weather and temperature changes through the year restricts us to use certain materials at only a point of time. Well as a pre planner and slightly control freak, I love to have my colours with me even when it is not their harvest season. So why not save them for the year round season!
Here we would like to show you various ways of how you can begin preparing your own set of natural dye powders!
The cycle of making dye powders follow 4 essential steps:
Collect --> Separate --> Dehydrate --> Crush/Ground
Flower petals are a great source of colour and have a significant colour quantity that can be applied on multiple surfaces. One can easily make their Flower powders by following the steps as shown:-
- We begin by collecting flowers that we would be using. Roses, cosmos, marigolds and hibiscus are great sources of colour and can be found easily in various forms.
- One of the best ways is to collect leftover flowers from temple waste or party decorations (event management) Never pluck a flower to fulfil this purpose, there are plenty fallen waiting for you to be picked up.
- Once you have your flowers in place, we separate the petals from the bud. This step helps separating the colour part of the plant so we can reach to concentrated results.
- Now the most important step is to dehydrate the flowers and to do so, we spread them out and dry them in shade and NOT under direct sunlight.
Please note: Dehydration is a very important step and should be carried out well as per its time and pace. Some dyers also use dehydrators to speed up the process.
- Now comes the fun part, Grounding Powders. Well as fun as it sounds, it can get slightly messy so be prepared. To make powders we can either crush the petals with our hands or use a kitchen mixer to prepare finely grounded Dye Powders.
- And there we have our Flower Powders ready, safe and secure for using in all seasons.
Apart from flowers, there are multiple foods that we prefer to save for our beautiful textiles. Our favourites include pomegranate skins, turmeric, tea leaves, coffee beans and all time favourite onion skins. The basic to powdering remain the same as we follow in the Flower Powdering section.
- Pomegranate Skins are one magic material that can help you prepare your textiles for a good wash fastness and colour fastness and has a beautiful fawn colour of its own. The shells of the pomegranate are washed and the white layers are removed completely from inside. Once dried, they become rock hard and can be powdered to use well for our dye baths.
- Turmeric can be easily found in a powder form in the market and also act as a great source of yellow colour. It is also found as solid mineral like pieces that can be grounded at home to use.
- Tea leaves and coffee beans are an excellent to colour fabrics in shades of yellows and browns. Dried tea leaves are much easier to powder and store as a dye powder whereas coffee beans are slightly hard to ground so make sure you're not breaking anything in the process!
- Neem leaves are much under rated when it comes to their colour properties but in reality, they are a wonderful source of colour that comes with an added bonus of anti-bacterial properties and lots of health benefits. A complete branch can be left to dry and later the leaves can be hand crushed or powdered to use as a natural dye.
- Lastly, onion skins. As good a source of colour as they are, they're super quick to make into a fine powder. We collect the dry shells of the onions and powder them in a grinder and that hardly takes 2 minutes.
Storing your Dye Powders
Finally when you have collected your materials and made powders with it, the next and the final step is to store them properly.
They should be dried well otherwise any even a little amount of moisture will end up causing fungus or insect infestation which will spoil the entire batch.
The jars that are used for storing should be air tight and sterilised before putting the powders inside. Store the jars away from direct sunlight and in cool dry places.
So now you are all set to prepare your own natural dyes and create your vernacular colour palette with it.
Professional Natural Dye Powders
Natural dyes are available in our environment in a wide range, some more successful than the others hence a set of 500-600 materials are classified as professional natural dyes that are very high in wash fastness, light fastness and longevity.
These materials are specific to certain areas and cannot be grown or found in all locations. In case you don't want to go through the process above and are interested in directly buying the materials then you can make direct purchase here. Our range of natural dyes and mordants are grown at our farm, sourced locally and can be ordered from the Supply Store on our website.
If you are interested in learning professionally about the working and functionality of these materials then we host monthly Online and Offline Workshops that cover these topics in detail and will give you an insight about the world of Natural Dyes.
Well as for the rest, we wish you happy working and a lovely and flower filled day ahead.
Lots of Flowers,