All Natural Dyes: The Colors of Peru
One of the most stunning things about Peru was the colors. I’ve learned that each place has it’s own palette and the palette of Peru is a dizzying array of bright, bold hues.
While I don’t resonate with the colors in the sense that I want to decorate my home with them or wear them, I totally appreciate the beautiful bright colors and I love that they exist in part because of the all natural dyes. I’ve heard of the process of natural dyeing before, but I didn’t understand it until I saw it for myself in Peru.
The amazing thing about natural dyes is that the color of something in nature does not necessarily reflect the color that it will dye. A black Cochineal bug that lives on cacti turns a batch of yarn red, black pepper turns yarn a beautiful orange and different leaves are used for various greens.
What we learned in Peru is that various plants, minerals and bugs are dried, crushed and cooked in a process that is intimate, time consuming and sadly, being lost. Several organizations in Peru are working to change that. I discovered this at the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cuzco. This wonderful organization is employing women from the community nearby, teaching them natural dyeing, drop spinning and weaving and employing them as weavers. We curated several one of a kind items from the ladies (like these completely handmade camera straps below!) and we can’t wait to show you these beautiful pieces of art. We love that our purchase supported both families working and preserving the traditions of dyeing, spinning and weaving.
The natural dyes used in traditional textiles depend completely on the area where they work is being done. If a plant is not available locally, it is not likely it will be used in the local textiles. The natural dyes are amazing because what they create is one of a kind items. Every season is different and while a recipe can be handed down and replicated exactly, it will never be exactly the same. Isn’t that cool??
If you wish to learn more, Threads of Peru has an excellent article on the use of natural dyes in Peru.