Sunday, April 22, 2012

In Honor of Earth Day

While trying to educate my sister about block printing with chemical dyes vs. natural dyes, she suggested I write a post about it on the blog for Earth Day.

Well, the main question is which is better, natural dyes or chemical dyes? The argument that I heard in college while I was fighting to use only natural dyes was that natural dyes use a lot of water, chemical dyes don't. So, how can I say that natural dyes is better?

Yes, chemical dyes use little water when you are dyeing a piece of fabric but how do we know how much water goes into processing those chemical powders? I can only imagine how much water and energy that goes into making the chemical dyes. And then consider the amount of pollution all those textile factories create using these textile dyes. Did I just say all negative things against chemical dyes?

Now the Pros and cons of natural dyes.
Con - uses lots of water while being dyed. Needs assistance of hard metals which leak into water.
Pro - The water can be reused in multiple dye baths. They can be filtered and redistributed back into growing plants and vegetation. Natural dyes come from natural plant and food materials. There is no by-product. Hard metals that leak into the water are naturally found in nature. Not harmful to artisans who work with them. No harm to customers who purchase the product.

Chemical dyes do give us a wide range of colors and responsible use of it can give us feel good products. A great example of responsible use of chemical dyes is by Bodhi of India. Mala Sinha, the owner of Bodhi, has a great block printing facility. They've set up a system of proper dosage of chemical dyes, proper disposal of the by-product,and minimal use of natural resources as possible. They even harvest rain water on  location. I love her products and they make you feel good when you buy it too!

 Anyways enjoy this Earth Day. Lots of activities happening around the world. Any other opinions? 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Natural Dyes!

When I was studying for my masters it was so difficult to come across up to date articles on natural dyes. But since I've been back in the states working, in almost 2 years so many organizations and talk about natural dyes has sprung up around me. Check out this article in the New York Times about natural dyers around the USA.

Also, the Textile Art Center in Brooklyn has classes on growing natural dyes in a space in brooklyn as well as classes on dyeing your clothing with them.
As for my natural dyeing ambition? It's..coming along. Ha, not really. I've been collecting onion skins and am looking for places to buy organic cotton fabric. Hopefully I can take out time and go visit the fabric stores in NYC so I can get the ball rolling.