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Why Plant Dyes?

Plant dyeing is a very old process, one I’ve completely fallen in love with this past year. Plants like madder root, indigo, and walnut shells have traditionally been used to create Persian rugs and other textiles for at least 2500 years, and I love connecting with this beautiful, slow, and mindful ancestral art form.

Plant dyes are biodegradable and offer a second life for food waste such as tea leaves, avocado pits, walnut shells, and vegetable skins. Dye plants can be grown in our own gardens and are generally sustainable, especially when compared to artificial dyes which are derived from nonrenewable energy sources.

Plant dyed textiles are safer for our bodies and the environment. Artificial dyes are made with chemicals derived from coal or petroleum that can irritate or be absorbed through the skin, and residuals from conventional textile manufacturing pollute our environment.

Plant dyeing is a slow and mindful process, creating gorgeous living colors that change and mature over time. Working with plant dyes is also a practice of letting go of control. Even with detailed notes it’s not possible to recreate a color exactly. Each batch is completely unique, and color shifts with the dye bath, plant material, season, and other external factors, adding to the beauty of plant dyed textiles.

 

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