The Colours of Nature

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Happy fiber artist is happy.

Today we made it to The Colours of Nature, a natural dye company here in Auroville. Yesterday we rode our janky single-speed cruisers about 5 km over sandy, rocky, rutty roads in search of the place—we were pretty close, but didn’t ever find it. Today we were determined, and also had slightly better directions. It was a glorious sight when we found the sign out front!

TCoN uses pomegranate, jackfruit, cutch, madder, lac, and indigo to dye organic cotton for various clothing designers. Their main focus is indigo, which they do with natural fermentation vats. Anybody who’s lived with me knows I have a special fondness for projects involving mystery buckets of stink, so I was in heaven.

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The dye room floor was covered with little wicker bumps, which are the lids to the dye vats. The vats have been going for 19 years—they add water and indigo to them, but never empty them out. I commented that it didn’t really smell too bad, but Robyn gave me a look. Later she said, “it STANK in there, Jen!”  It really didn’t bother me, though.

One of the master dyers came and dyed some cloth for us. He sat right down next to the vat, stuck his gloved hand in and swished around the foamy mess at the top. He put in the cloth, worked it for a few minutes, then pulled it out and immediately snapped it open and started flapping it around in the air. In a matter of seconds, it changed from green to blue–which I knew would happen, but man, is it magic.

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This was after one dip–depending on the depth of shade desired, a piece may be dipped up to 16 times. Which is a lot of work. Just maintaining the vats is a lot of work, too–he has to come in and tend to them every day–“it’s like having a baby.”

We were hoping to get some information about growing indigo, but this company purchases indigo from a farmer, so they couldn’t help us there. It was still pretty awesome, and now I have lots of fabric to lug around for the next few days.

One thought on “The Colours of Nature

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