Natural dyes from plants are regaining popularity once again as planet-conscious individuals seek dye and print processes without the use of any toxic synthetic chemicals or heavy metals.
One such business aiming to encourage a return to plant-based design practices in the UK, across multiple creative industries and communities, through natural dye services and education is Botanical Inks.
The Bristol-based business, founded by botanical artist/designer Babs Behan, offers natural dyeing services for textiles, clothing and paper products, to surface application techniques, including Shibori tie-dyeing, bundle dyeing with flowers and block printing.
Botanical Inks also runs workshops which teaches people to forage for local colour-producing plants and use a variety of dye and print processes. They prioritise the use of local, organic, ethically sourced and manufactured materials, such as dyes from local organic farm and food waste, locally grown and manufactured wool, organic British peace silk, recycled British paper and vintage or second-hand garments and textiles.
Natural dyes from plants can be extracted from roots, foliage, nuts, berries and flowers. Some plants, such as indigo and madder, contain greater amounts of pigment than others, hence their popularity. The amount of pigment in each of plant is dependent not only on the genetics of each plant, but also the stage of development, and growing conditions.
Writing on the Botanical Inks website, Babs Behan says: “By using regenerative, biological materials, which are safe to use and put back into the earth after their use, we [Botanical Inks] offer an alternative to the toxic petrochemical, and highly processed, art and design mediums and practices which have otherwise become the norm.
“We bring awareness to the journey of the things we create and bring into our lives. Moving away from consumerist culture, towards a slower, more appreciative and respectful way of being on the earth. Living with Nature and within its means.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com