Showing posts with label vegetable dyeing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetable dyeing. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The dyeing process for our first natural dye rug

Following Carol Seberts’s discovery of some incredible natural dyeing expertise in Nepal in March, we are excited to announce our first natural dye collection. We’ll be bringing the first rug to show off at NYICS in September and rolling out the full collection quickly thereafter. And here is a sneak peak at the design of the first rug.

Percolate in mulberry
Designed by Ange Yake ©Creative Matters

The rug itself it is still in the weaving process, but here are some incredible photos of the wool at the dyeing mill. The dyeing stage alone, can take as long as two weeks.

The dyeing process starts with the preparation of the colour. The dye master tests and mixes the natural dyes making up a batch for each colour required in a rug. Tibetan dye masters have acquired a deep knowledge of the natural dyeing materials over many generations but due to the popularity of chemicals dyes, this traditional art came close to being wiped out.

When the dye master has achieved the correct colour, the yarn is placed in the hot dye where it is cooked for shorter or longer periods of time and at higher or lower temperatures, depending on the dye and the shade desired.

Once the dye master is satisfied with the tones the wool has taken on, s/he pulls the steamy bundle from the pot. Over 170 plants have been short-listed for dying use in Nepal, including: indigo, mulberry, saffron, turmeric, rhubarb roots and walnut. Madder root is often used for red hues.

Smaller quantities of wool are dyed in the pot and handled manually. Heavier quantities are loaded onto a spindle which is turned by hand to dip the wool into the dye time and time again.

When natural dyes are handled correctly, even in skeins of yarn not yet woven, the colours are simply beautiful.

Here the dye master in Nepal is showing us in Toronto how the dried wool now matches the colour specified in our design.A dye master - like a good winemaker - must be a chemist and a microbiologist with a working knowledge of botany, geology, meteorology and plant physiology. We’re delighted to have finally found a dye master who can meet the exacting standards of Creative Matters.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Our latest discoveries from India and Nepal

By Carol Sebert, Principal

Even though our design hub is based at our head office in Toronto, an equally important part of our work takes place in the countries where our carpets are physically produced. We regularly visit India, Nepal, Thailand and now China to liaise with the skilled artisans who bring our creations to life.  

In March, I was back at the “temporary field offices” in India and Nepal. After 25 years of touring these beautiful but challenging countries, you might think I’d have reached a been-there-seen-that attitude. Actually, the reverse is true – every trip is still full of new discoveries.  Having toured so many production facilities, talked with so many local artisans and developed an ease with the cultural differences, I now experience it all on a much deeper and more detailed level.

Of course, with every trip, I’m looking for new inspiration: something that will really fit for a particular client; something that will take a new carpet trend just one step further; something that will honour fair trade practices even more …

Two important discoveries this year concerned knots. First I came across a mill which can achieve a perfect low tight loop pile. This has always been the domain of the Thai mills, so finding a similar quality in India means we can offer it to our clients at a better price point.

Then – oh joy! – another facility with a particularly extensive (over 100) collection of hand looms and remarkable expertise to go with them, including the Persian knot. Persian rugs aren’t our specialty at Creative Matters, but we see an opportunity here to offer our clients the remarkable quality of this knot in non-Persian designs. FYI, a 9 x 12 (2.75 m x 3.75 m) carpet takes six months of knotting.

The most exciting discovery of the trip was the potential of vegetable dying. I had previously discounted it because I didn't know of a master dyer who could get pretty well any colour under the rainbow but now I do! It's pretty special - talk about eco friendly - and we are thrilled to bring this opportunity to our clients in 2015. The photo shows an example of the range of colours that are produced (by talented hands) with the skin of pomegranates.  

Traditionally the fringe of the rug is left at the colour of the neutral wool used to assemble the warp and weft, so it was interesting to visit with artisans who are perfecting the art of pre-dyeing the warp and the weft to create a variety of blending or contrasting effects.

The art of weaving goes back centuries in these countries and the range and ingenuity of the equipment never ceases to amaze me. Here the weaver is using his foot to work the warp threads – like a pipe organ.

Abrash is a naturally occurring dye variation that creates subtle colour change - or a stronger contrast - within a rug. At Creative Matters we often find that such natural irregularities can add to the charm and authenticity of a hand woven carpet. In this photo, a mill owner was showing me his control of gradations with abrash – it’s useful for our staff to know we have a partner who can control the contrast so skillfully.

No CMI carpet gets to the loom before our designers have carefully examined multiple carpet squares. They arrive almost daily in our Toronto office in sterile-but-reliable Fedex packs, so what a pleasurable change it is to check samples in pure sunshine, under the proud and watchful eyes of the mill owners amid the smells and bustle of daily Indian life.

I work with colour every day but vibrance of colours in Indian street life never fails to astound me.  

Finally, what a joy it is to discover a precious moment like this. It perfectly captures my love of textiles and every little labour-intensive stage of producing hand-woven carpets.