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Week 3- Colours

Worked on creating some natural dyes for fabric and experimented with a few methods of tying the fabric. There were a lot more failures than successes this week and I learnt a lot about the limitations of the dye and the fabric. I also researched and worked on the ideation of combining the concept and the theme together.

Natural Dyes

I tried a few kitchen items to create natural dyes. The time to create the dyes and to actually colour the fabric pieces were varied for all the samples. I tried to reach the maximum saturation of each dye. This was done by simply checking at which point the colour stops changing much from the previous sample that was taken out of the dye. All the samples are made of white cotton fabric.

The first one is red onion skins. For this dye, I boiled the paper thins skins of red onions for about 30 minutes and it gave off a really strong onion smell, in the end it creates a really beautiful rose-brown colour. But this dye takes longer to attach itself to the fabric. The samples created were put into the dye for 1, 4, 6 and 8 hours.

The next is turmeric. This was the fastest one to create and also coloured the fabric quickly. Moreover, the colour does not wash out with water! To create the dye- I boiled 1 whole tablespoon of turmeric powder in 1 cup of water. Then put in the fabric samples into it for 5, 10, 20 and 30 minutes.

The coffee dye was very straightforward but had trouble creating various shades of the brown. The fabric was put into the coffee solution (basically espresso) for 10 and 20 minutes. Any less than 10 mins the fabric will have a very subtle stain and even after 20 mins it is not too dark as one might expect.

The beet dye is basically the beet ink that I had created for the previous exercise. It had a similar outcome to the coffee, the dye does not stick well to the fabric and does not create much variations. In this case, I think the dye was a little too watery and would drip out of the fabric even before it dries. So with a little work it has potential. The samples were dunked in the dye for 10 and 30 mins.

I had also tried using spinach since it loses a lot of colour when boiled but I put the fabric in it for over 12 hours but it did not colour even a bit so that was a fail. Otherwise, I am quite happy with the colour palette created and unintentionally it turned out very harmonious. I was surprised how easy but time consuming it was to work with dyes.


I created a few samples from with the dyes that I had created. The first one here is done with the Indian method of tie-dye called Bandhani. Traditionally with this technique a large repetitive pattern is created all over the fabric. It is quite a tedious and intricate technique that I would need a lot of practice with. Below is a tiny sample I created. I dyed the fabric in turmeric first and then dipped the edges into beet to create an ombre effect that adds depth to the piece.

The next one is the Shibori method. The cloth was dyed in the onion skin dye. I had created a few more shibori sample, tying in relatively larger objects like wooden blocks. I discovered that it does not work too well. Shibori works best with small things like beads of like than 10mm. Shibori and Bandhani are similar at the core, making use of repetitive patterns and I think it would be interesting to combine both these techniques.


At this point I feel like I have all my materials and resources in place and can start the design part of the project. I am currently working on how to attached a frame to hold the fabric in shape so that it can be made into a jewellery piece. The next week will be full of sketching and making foundations for the fabrics.

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