Monday, January 24, 2011

curry leaves and turmeric: a very indian natural dye

today i finally got my hands into some natural dye work. i thought i would try using curry leaves, as we have an abundance of them growing at home amended with several left over stems from the market. the curry plant is native to india and is a tree Murraya koenigii. it is a mainstay of south indian cooking flavoring rasam, sambar, pooriyal, pongal, etc... etc.. etc...

this was my first test dye in india, so i was a little nervous not having my usual tools with me.
i am in chidambaram and didn't quite know how to procure alum, the mordant i most commonly use for cotton, so instead i tested out giving the cloth a nice soak in some warm salt water. i found a beautiful handwoven white towel for my experiment.

after soaking the fabric for a bit in the warm salt water i started boiling up a nice big bunch of dried curry leaves. i let the leaves boil over a low heat for about 40 minutes before adding my cloth. afterwards i let it boil for about 1 hour. the dye bath was a beautiful though faint golden copper color. just to give it a rich yellow tinge i decided to add one spoonful of turmeric powder. instantly the colors merged - i let it simmer for about 20 more minutes before removing it form the heat, rinsing my cloth and hanging it to dry!

beautiful colors from nature. just what i needed to get inspired and excited for this week's natural dye workshop that i am leading in chennai - hope to have goods pics from that to share.

thanks for visiting. d

1 comment:

Naturemort said...

LOVE these. Love your blog!