The next day and a visit to Dastka Andhra, a project supporting and promoting hand weaving in Andhra Pradesh. We bought some samples of natural dyed fabrics and I purchased some handwoven kora (natural coloured) dupattas (shawls) for workshops next year. They will be good for both the mud resist and shibori.
Though hand weaving is their priority they are promoting the use of natural dyes including indigo. Most of the indigo you come across in India is synthetic though presented as natural. Dastkar’s indigo fabrics are yarn dyed in fermented vats by a master dyer who is 90 and still working. Unfortunately, though he has taught over 300 people, there is no one to take over from him which is very sad.
I was lucky enough to purchase some of his natural indigo to bring home. A tip I was told to test the quality of your indigo cakes. If you drop it in water they should float. I can’t wait to experiment with different fermentation vats using this, next year
Then on to Chennai and monsoon rains where between downpours I managed to buy some hand spun and woven silk before traveling down the coast to Auroville to visit The Colours of Nature.
The founder of The Colours of Nature, Jesus Ciriza Larraona, went to Kashmir many years ago to produce silk carpets. Disappointed by the polluting dyeing methods he witnessed, he started to collect information from all over India on traditional dyeing techniques.
Eager to put his knowledge into practice he started a Research & Development Unit in Auroville, an international township dedicated to human unity, located in the south of India. The Colours of Nature is one of only few remaining natural dyeing units in the world, who are entirely focused on an environmental friendly, vegetable dyeing process. Their research in natural dyes is ongoing. Their specialisation is developing natural indigo fermentation and his dream is to develop his indigo fermentation on an industrial scale.
As well a his commitment to natural indigo fermentation Jesus has been experimenting with other natural dyes for twenty years and claims to have a quick and fast alum mordanting process which he is keeping secret for the moment.