Indigo, morinda & other natural dyes

Indigo

Many countries have used indigo in fabric dyeing including Japan, Taiwan, Central & South America, Thailand, Africa and of course, Indonesia… to name a few.

Indigo dyeing from a plant source.

Indigo dyeing from a plant source.

Before aerating, the dye is lime green.

Before aerating, the dye is lime green.

Preparing the dye.

Preparing the dye.

Aerating the vat changes the dye from lime green to deep blue.

Aerating the vat changes the dye from lime green to deep blue.

Folding, wrapping, tying: fabric is prepared for an indigo dye bath and several dips are required to achieve color intensity.

Folding, wrapping, tying: fabric is prepared for an indigo dye bath. and several dips are required to achieve color intensity

Folding and tying the fabric for dyeing.

 

Folding and tying the fabric for dyeing.

 

Fabrics are dipped and rinsed repeatedly.

Fabrics are dipped and rinsed repeatedly.

Rinsing the fabric.

Rinsing the fabric.

Hands of an indigo dyer.

Hands of an indigo dyer.

And this was the result!

And this was the result!

To achieve the very deep indigo blue we’ve come to expect would require dipping dozens of times with the fabric drying in-between. You can see why indigo commands the high price it does.

In addition to looking beautiful, indigo fabric repels insects.

Blue jeans were initially dyed with indigo, but to keep the price down chemical dyes were later substituted.

Morinda

Root scrapings of the morinda tree are soaked, boiled, mashed and squeezed to produce dye.

Only ¼ of the root system is unearthed every year so the tree can recover and be used year after year.

The root of the Morinda tree produces a natural red (rust) dye.

The root of the Morinda tree produces a natural red (rust) dye.

Traditional weavings are often limited in color as this one is. Morinda produces the red/rust color, indigo provides the blue, white is left undyed and the “black” is a combination of indigo and morinda.

 

Traditional weavings are often limited in color as this one is.

Morinda produces the red/rust color, indigo provides the blue, white is left undyed and the “black” is a combination of indigo and morinda.

 

Root scrapings of the morinda tree that will be soaked, boiled, mashed and squeezed to produce dye.

 

Root scrapings of the morinda tree that will be soaked, boiled, mashed and squeezed to produce dye. Only 1/4 of the root system is unearthed every year so the tree can recover and be used year after year.

Dyeing silk threads for ikat weaving. The rust-colored mash on the right is the root scraping of the morinda tree. It will later be wrung by hand into water to form a dye bath. The dyer is dipping silk threads in the morinda dye. Photo is of Master dyer/teacher/Balinese textile historian Ida Ayu Ngurah Puniari.

 

 

Dyeing silk threads for ikat weaving.

The rust-colored mash on the right is the root scraping of the morinda tree. It will later be wrung by hand into water to form a dye bath.

The dyer is dipping silk threads in the morinda dye.

She is master dyer/teacher/Balinese textile historian Ida Ayu Ngurah Puniari.

Morinda can range in color from gold to deep red. As with indigo, the color intensifies the more the fibers are exposed to the dye.

Morinda can range in color from gold to deep red.

As with indigo, the color intensifies the more the fibers are exposed to the dye.

Silk threads dyed with indigo and morinda dyes will be woven into ceremonial cloths.

    Silk threads dyed with indigo and morinda dyes will be woven into ceremonial cloths.

Learning dyeing and weaving techniques

D’Ayu teaches traditional natural dye and weaving techniques to local women to preserve the culture and to help them contribute to the family income.

Here D’Ayu demonstrates supplementary weft weaving where the silk threads float above the warp.

D’Ayu demonstrates supplementary weft weaving where the silk threads float above the warp.

Learning weaving techniques.

 

Learning weaving techniques.

 

As the daughter of a Balinese high priest, D’Ayu is also the keeper of ceremonial cloths for her ancestry.

As the daughter of a Balinese high priest, D'Ayu is also the keeper of ceremonial cloths for her ancestry.

These weavings tell stories or depict ancestral occurrences or dreams.

 

These weavings tell stories or depict ancestral occurrences or dreams.

The weavers take great pride in their work and can help support their families with part-time work in the home.

These backstrap looms collapse and are taken home by the women so they can work as they have time.

The weavers take great pride in their work and can help support their families with part-time work in the home. These backstrap looms collapse and are taken home by the women so they can work as they have time.