How to DIY with Natural Dyes

How to DIY with Natural Dyes

Have you ever longed to experiment with the colors of the world around you? If so, you are not alone. In fact, you’re in the best of company. So many earth-savvy people are reaping the benefits of natural dyeing and simply cannot get enough of this reemerging trend. If studying ways to incorporate natural hues is of interest to you, hold on to your bug juice dyed hats, because we’re about to give you the crash course in obtaining, incorporating, and being inspired by nature’s most captivating colors.

Does your wardrobe need a few additional pops of natural Indigo? Indigo is by far one of the world’s most beloved colors. Take a good long look at your closet for example. Blue jeans are just the start. That white Oxford shirt you loved, but now seldom wear, the ultra-comfy canvas tennies you literally wore once; why not give a few of your well-loved faves a bad case of the blues? All it takes is a half-ounce each of indigo, sodium hydrosulfite, soda ash, and two gallons of water to create custom pieces inspired by anything from the big blue sky to the deep blue sea. Once you are happy with the blues you have created, you can take it a step further by dyeing over your indigo dyed fabrics with other natural dyes as well.

Can a seed grow into a fun new wardrobe by autumn? Your knee jerk reaction may be no. However, you’re wrong. Ever heard of the annatto seed? Annatto is also known as roucou or achiote. Still not ringing any bells? It is the seed of the achiote tree, which grows primarily in tropical habitats. These seeds are commonly used to create natural dyes ranging from shades of golden yellow to hues of earthy orange. If you’re thinking that sounds beyond perfect for your fall-inspired fashions, you couldn’t be more right.

How creative can you get with cochineal grana? Chances are you’ve never given much thought to cochineal, but you have certainly seen the end result if you have ever paused to notice the beauty of the Spanish culture. Cochineal is the product of a chemical reaction that happens between a parasitic female insect and the juice of the prickly pear cactus it lives on. The carminic acid produced by this intense living situation can be used to create the most vibrant and color-fast shades of red the world has ever known. Throughout history cochineal has been used to dye everything from sacred feathers to temples of worship, warring bodies to ceremonial gowns. If you don’t have any of those, it should work on t-shirts too.

Which natural dye will be your all-time favorite? Go out into natural spaces. Find your inspiration in the world around you. Look to the tips of your fingers as your style guides. Are you moved by dark floral palettes? Or maybe the turquoise waters call to you. How could natural dying breathe new life into even the most neglected dresses in your closet? Thousands of natural dyes can be used to create unique, one of a kind colors for you to incorporate into your existing wardrobe. Also, because it has been used worldwide throughout the course of history, the time-honored ancient tradition of natural dying allows you to form a lasting connection to literally every culture from every corner of the globe. Once you begin, you’ll soon realize there is no better time than now to begin experimenting with plant-based and bug-based dyes.

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