Saturday, April 28, 2012

Natural Dye Lab

This is a very old dye used since the beginning of time: Lac Resin. The resin is produced from an insect native to South Asia, and produces colours of violets & reds, depending on the amount of dye used, and which natural fixing agent is applied in the dye process. In its raw powder form it is a rich dark reddy violet colour, and it has a pungent earthy aroma. It's a joy to dye with this stuff.
The insect Kerria Laccca, is cultivated on Kasumbah and Tessu trees in South Asia and India. In India, the SeedLac is put into oblong bags of cotton cloth which is held over a charcoal fire by a man at each end, and, as soon as it begins to melt, the bag is twisted so as to strain the liquefied resin through its substance, and to make it drop upon smooth stems of the banyan tree. In this way, the resin spreads into thin plates, and constitutes the substance know as Shell-lac or Lac Resin.
I have both Lac Resin and Ground Lac Powder, as well as mordants of Soda Ash and Iron for dyeing at Gather; the dyes and mordants are sold by the 50g, or organic wool already hand-dyed is also available. From the top, is a pure dye of Lac which creates a light wash of violet, the next colour has been pre-soaked with Soda Ash then dyed with Lac which creates a brighter violet, and the darkest colour has been mordanted with Iron before dyeing with Lac, which creates a deeper violet.
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