Why we dye with plants

With the advent of synthetic dyes, many old dyeing techniques have been forgotten. One of those techniques is dyeing with natural dyes. Those days designers and artists are experimenting with natural dyes again. Which is understandable, because with natural dyes you get a rich, and intense color palette without any environmental impact. The ‘downside’ of natural dying is that it does take time; synthetic dyes were created to enable mass production, while natural dyeing is a matter of slowing down again.

Our fascinating journey through natural colors and painting methods started in Aït Bouali, a small village in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Past this village flows a river with meltwater from the high mountains, creating a fertile valley. Here you’ll find walnut, madder, and meadow amongst others. The woman of the family we stayed with, Hada, told us that she used to dye her wool with what the valley offered her. But since the arrival of synthetic paint, she hardly uses this technique anymore.

Our interest was quickly aroused

This piqued our curiosity and 2 days later we went into the valley with Hada. We picked walnut leaves, meadow and dug up madder. We cut everything into small pieces and let it soak for a few hours. Then we warmed up the brewed ‘tea’ along with the wool. We had to keep a close eye on the fire under the madder pot. As soon as the water temperature rises above 70°C, the color changes from pink/red to rusty brown and that was not our intention. After an hour, strands of wool in chocolate brown, old pink and yellow appeared from the water. We rinsed them in the river, so that the colored wool will not bleed during washing in the future.

We had so much fun this day: out into nature, working with our hands and waiting in suspense for the color that emerges from the water. And all without an impact on the environment. We wanted to learn more about this!

This opened a new world for us

And learning we did. We attended various workshops on natural dyeing in Belgium and the Netherlands, read books and practiced quite a lot. We now have our own dye studio in Morocco on the edge of the Atlas Mountains. Every year, we go there for several weeks to dye new supplies of wool. For this we work together with Hicham, who keeps an eye on our stocks. We have deliberately chosen to dye the wool for our products ourselves. The color palette that we create by natural dying, forms the basis of our collection and we like to roll up our sleeves in doing so.

Are you as enthusiastic as we are and would you like to know more about natural dyeing? We are thinking about organizing workshops. There will also be a blog ‘Plant dyeing, how does it work?’. If you want to stay informed about these workshops and new blog posts, sign up for our newsletter.