Crafty Story -II (A series on Indian Crafts)
Have you ever noticed what are the colors used for your favorite blue shirt? Are they natural or synthetic and artifically made? How much are they harmful to the enviroment or our body? Yes, I am talking about the colors and its impact on health and environment.
Dry colors, vegetable colors or natural dye colors are more skin friendly, and good. Its more like a family, region based business for making colors and implementing the same on products like-carpet, toys and printing etc.
The color that you are wearing, using will not only have colors to soothe your eyes but fragnance of the ingredients will also smells nicely. Colors derived from nature have some depth which chemical dyes lack.
China, Rome, Brazil, East Indies, France and many more countries are coloring the world in natural way. In history, India is painting naturally approximately since 327BC and has been a metaphor of excellance.
Natural colored dyed and handspun Carpet from nomadrugs.com
These natural, hand made, eco-friendly dyes are biodegradable and non-carcinogenic. They are obtained from dried flowers, leaves, seeds & barks and from stones at times from insects also! These are soft and low toxic colors generally non-allergic.
And use for dyeing of Textile like fibre, wool, yarns or garments etc. Paper coloring, on Toys and other Wooden products, making handmade Soaps, Candles; possible areas are unlimited.
From Indigo dye used in ‘Ikat’ (textile from Orissa, India) and food colors added in the form of Indian spices like Turmeric.
Natural colors and dyes are extracted by the process of fermentation, boiling, and treatment with chemicals. Colors can be obtained from a single dye by the use of different mordents with which the fabrics to be dyed are treated.
Indigo Dye and wool dyed in same. Pictures taken from http://www.aurorasilk.com/
Fiber has cellulose and it will easily absorb natural dyes. Indian textiles are famous for naturally dyed cotton cloths. Gujarat, one of the major center for dyed and block printed textile. Rajasthan tie & dye (Bandhini) is worldwide famous so are Kasmir carpets that have interesting patterns by using vegetable dyes colors and Bihar Madhubani paintings painted delicately in natural colors.
Both western & eastern coast of India have beautifully printed cotton but technique is bit different. If south indian artists uses brush to paint then Gujarat uses wooden blocks for printing nice patterns.
Printing blocks are made of teak wood, on one side design is etched. Other side has a wooden handle for holding and drilled cylindrical holes to pass the air and allowing the release of excess colors. New blocks are soaked in oil for 2 weeks or so to soften the wood grains.
In south a bamboo pen is used. That’s how Kalamkari- kalam (pen) and kari (means Work) method of painting on cotton or silk happen. Andhra Pradesh in India is famous for Kalamkari work.
Natural Dyes are supposed to use but gradually artificial and chemical colors are replacing the Indigo blue and Turmeric yellows.
Images courtesy- http://www.fabindia.com/craftsProfile.asp
Most of natural dyes are produced in situ means the coloring substance is extracted form the raw material and used. Which has disadvantage of non-reproduction, mass production, storing is also limited and it’s not standardized.
If techniques are used to produce in powder form than these drawbacks can be remove. Power would be available for long period of time, easy to carry & use and can be standardized by following the guidelines. Color variations in different lot can be also minimized.
One side Natural dyes are organic, eco friendly, bio degradable and much more alive other side synthetics or chemically composed colors are inorganic, flat, and dead. A quick difference can be seen by checking the tonality, depth of naturally dye fabric to flat and unchanged artificial colors used textile.
But natural colors are now fading towards artificially made commercialized colors as it’s easy to get, ready to use. It is impractical to restore all our age-old practices with the versatility of man-made products still it s more about making a right choice and going nature way. To create a good and healthy and more alive work, natural dyes made work is better any day. It is not about saving time and producing quantity its more about retaining the craftsmen identities and making a greener and eco friendly choice.