Natural dyes are made using fresh, dried and powdered plant materials combined with heat and water. These plant materials can be foraged, collected from food and floral waste, or purchased in a liquid or powdered form.
Most Tinta dyes are made from from foraged leaves and flowers, or food and floral waste that has been salvaged from landfill. Due to their availability, commonly used materials include avocado stones, eucalyptus leaves, onion skins, acorns and rose petals. Occasionally, powdered dyes are used to achieve specific colours.
Each colour is as unique as the plant it came from, so every result is one of a kind and impossible to replicate exactly. The process in total can take up to 14 days.
We minimise our water and energy use by using a number of different techniques including low water immersion dyeing, bundle dyeing, painting with mordants and shibori resist techniques. Rinse water and exhausted dye baths are reused to reduce water use, and poured on our garden at the end of their life. It is our aim to use rainwater or seawater when possible. All of our used plant materials are composted.
Scouring is a process that removes any waxes and oils used in the production of the fabric so that the fabric can absorb the dye.
Mordanting (from the verb 'to bite' in French) is a substance which helps the natural dye bond, or 'bite', to the fibre. Without a mordant, many natural dyes will fade with washing and exposure to sunlight. Our preference is to use dyes high in tannin to keep recipes 100% plant-based, but we occasionally use alum or iron and necessary, especially for items that will be washed often.
Natural dyeing usually involves heating plant materials to extract their colour, however cold water dyeing is possible too. Pre-prepared fabric is bundled and steamed or immersed in the dye bath for 1-24 hours to achieve deep and colourfast shades.
Finishing each piece includes pre-washing by hand, line drying and lightly ironing.
We work, learn and play on Awabakal and Worimi land in the city of Newcastle, and pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging.