Archive | Natural Dyes RSS feed for this section

Riviera Maya – Mexico – Textiles and Ceramics

18 Apr

I have recently returned from a fantastic 2-week holiday in Mexico where I visited Tulum and Coba, a traditional Mayan village, Xcarat and Xel-ha. The scenery, flora and fauna were very different to anywhere else I have previously visited. I found Mexico to be very vibrant as can be seen in my photographs. I have grouped my photographs in to three different posts.

Below are images, which show the colourful Mexican textiles and ceramics that I came across. I love the traditional, vivid, striped woven fabrics produced in Mexico and I even bought a rug for my sister, if only they weren’t so heavy I would have brought one home for myself! I did a lot of natural dyeing last summer and was interested to see natural dyeing taking place in Mexico. The ceramics shown below are entirely hand made and painted.

In terms of the costumes I have photographed these were worn for re-enactment purposes and for evening shows but they were beautiful, intricate and supposedly very similar to the costumes that were worn hundreds of years ago.

Traditional Mexican Costume Woven Mexican Textiles Natural Dyes Mexico Mexican Costume Mexican Costume Colourful Mexican Ceramics


Experimental Knitting

15 Feb

Today I had an hour to spare so I decided to make up a quick sample on my knitting machine. As a result of the rag rug class I attended before Christmas I have been thinking about ways in which to avoid or reduce material waste. I decided to experiment with weaving some scraps from my felt making and embroidery classes in to a plain dark grey knitted sample. I used small pieces of felt tops, embroidery threads and lengths of wool, which I dyed last year with natural dyes (such as golden rod and nettle). I thoroughly enjoyed creating this sample and plan to create a few more experimental pieces in the coming weeks so keep checking back for updates or follow my blog! Below are some images of the sample.

IMAG0955 IMAG0958 IMAG0959

Eco Friendly Textiles

13 Feb

For past projects in particular the self-motivated project I carried out over the summer break and the RSA project I have been increasingly interested in the use of natural dyes and eco textiles. Whilst at Premiere Vision in Paris last week I came across numerous companies, which are creating environmentally friendly textiles. Akin Tekstil for example use organic cotton to produce some of their fabrics, they also take great care to treat the wastewater produced during manufacture. Here is a link to the website: Asahi Kasei is another company, which I came across at Premiere Vision. Asahi Kasei produces ecological fibers from a renewable resource. The fiber Bemberg is biodegradable, and clean burning. For more information please follow this link:

I also came across some beautiful photographs of natural dyes taken for Bloom magazine by Doswell and Mclean whilst looking at, one of my favourite online sources of inspiration. Here are some of the fantastic photographs:

Natural Dyes

24 Aug

Recently i have been doing quite a lot of research into natural dyes, as i have often been inspired by nature and i like my work to be environmentally friendly or ‘green’ where possible. A book i have found particularly useful is entitled ‘Natural Dyes’ by Linda Rudkin, this book provided me with easy step by step instructions, information on how and where to obtain the dyes and what other materials i would need to source in order to use natural dyes.

Yesterday i began  dyeing natural fibres such as various untreated woolen yarns, cotton and silk. The first step is to rinse the fibres in warm water and then mordant the fibres. I chose to use alum and cream of tartar as a mordant as they were relatively easy to source. Mordanting the fibres stops the dye from rinsing out of the fibres after dyeing. Next i collected a range of fresh and dried flowers, leaves, fruit, nuts and spices for example which i added to a pan of water and simmered for up to one hour to obtain the dye. I found turmeric, red onion skins, white onion skins, hazelnut shells, brazil nut shells, nettles, cinnamon, comfrey and paprika all produced great natural dyes. After obtaining the dye it is necessary to strain the dye to remove the material from which the dye was obtained. Next add the natural fibres to the dye and simmer once again for 20 minutes to 1 hour until the natural fibres have been dyed to the desired shade. Then all you need to do is remove the fibres from the dye and rinse in warm water before hanging out to dry. The excess dye can be re-used a couple of times before being disposed of. For more details i would recommend ‘Natural Dyes’ a book by Linda Rudkin as i mentioned above.

Below is a slideshow of some of the basic steps which i have explained: Mordanting the fibres, chopped fresh nettle leaves ready to be simmered, red onion skins being simmered to obtain the dye, fibres dyed using turmeric, the excess dye cooling down in jars and the dyed fibres drying on the washing line.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

%d bloggers like this: