It was one of the first questions we were asked by people interested in our products (even before this site was launched). We assume this question was not asked without a reason. Indeed when we talk about natural fabrics, we really know that such fabrics do not contain synthetic fibers. It might be cotton, silk, wool, linen etc. Today living in high-tech world not many people are consider how historically craftsmen created colorful fabrics for making beautiful garments. Indeed, synthetic colors produced by the chemical industry didn’t exit then. So the answer to this question is at the surface, or it is rather under our feet! Yes, exactly, nature gave everything to human-beings. Things that could be useful in everyday life were nearby, it was necessary only to look around. The bark, fruits and leaves of plants, clay, lime, and coal – all could be used. We use traditional recipes which are handed down from generation to generation for dyeing the fabrics in our slings. We will explain in detail about the materials in our dyes and how they are made.
How it all began
Thailand is a country with a wealth of culture. It is famous for its handicraft traditions. Things created by the local craftsmen are impressive for their preciosity, delicateness of performance and exceptional harmony. People living in this beautiful country don’t spare their time and their souls for creating of small masterworks like ceramic ware, woodwork, decoration, paintings. But weaving craft holds a special place; it’s enough to mention the famous products of Thai silk!
Silk is not the only noteworthy product. In some provinces naturally dyed fabric is still woven manually on the weaver looms. The production process usually involves the entire village. Up to a hundred people may live and work there. These enterprises have a special status and are often included in the association called OTOR (The State OTOR program was developed in 2001 for delivering the best products from the Kingdom of Thailand. The fabric for our slings comes from one such village. We suggest you see for yourself how the entire dyeing process is done manually and without usage of any industrial chemicals.
What do we know about indigo? It is a tropical plant, with the Latin name Indigofera tinctoria. Many people know that usually jeans are dyed in light blue color of indigo. Did you know that natural indigo is very rarely cultivated on the earth and it’s nearly impossible to find cloth dyed in this beautiful dark blue color using indigo plant?
Only thanks to a few enthusiasts trying to keep the traditions of their ancestors alive and hand it down to the next generations, have the secrets of this natural color survived to this day.
One of these people is the founder of the artisan village of Nadi, her name is Praphayphan Dengdzhai. She managed to recover the almost lost secrets of indigo dye and invited us to visit the Thai Province Sakhorn Nakhorn in order to show the whole process from growing the indigo plant to dyeing the cotton threads.
After the pink lime is added to the solution, the very diligent and long process of whisking starts with a special whisk which resembles a whisk for eggs. To avoid getting tired the workers take turns. Over time a dense foam is formed. During whisking the mass is saturated with oxygen which reacts with the other ingredients.
Second stage is whisking
In the final stage the dyers add in a mixture sugar, acid tamarind and water which have been passed through coals. These components are needed to prevent the dye washing out and keeping the color bright and vibrant.
Now the process is completed. The dye will be used for dyeing of the cotton threads which soon will become a wonderful fabric. But that’s another story!
The young assistant was allowed to dye fabric himself!
Colored threads drying
And the accessories!
All that will be used for dyeing soon
Other colors used for dyeing of our slings are also made with natural dyes. Without getting into the details of dyes manufacturing we will confine ourselves to a description of the main components which produce the desired color.
Magnifera indica is an evergreen tree; type species is Mango, family sumach. It is an important agricultural plant. The fruits of the plant are called mangos and they are among the most popular tropical fruits. The height of the tree is 10-45 m; it has dense crown, the leaves can be up to 40 cm long and up to 10 cm wide. Juvenile leaves are reddish; the mature leaves are dark green.
The result of dyeing with mango leaves dye is greenish yellow color.
Indian Lac Insect (Kerria lacca) – is hemipterous coccids insects species from the family of lac insects Kerriidae. They are common in South and Southeast Asia living on Ficus religiosa, F. indica and some other plants, they live on the branches and coat it with the layer of lacquer like substance (the secretion of cutaneous gland). This substance is used for production of shellac, other lacquers and sealing wax.
Homes of the Indican Lac Insect and our wrap NB Pink from Mann Craft
Sapanwood (caesalpinia sappan) – it is a small thorny flowering tree from the pulse family. It is endemic to the mountains of Southeast Asia. It is the source of a valuable red dye called brazilin, which is used for dyeing fabrics and the production of ink and red dyes. Sapanwood was an important good in the 17th century; it was actively exported from Southeast Asia to Japan. Extract of the heartwood is used for the medicines and cosmetics production.
The substance from the heartwood of the sapanwood stem also dyes the threads in pink
Ebony tree or Ebon (Diospyros Mollis) – tropical persimmon tree grows in the rainfall forests of Africa similarly for Asia, on the islands of the Indian Ocean, monsoon forests of India and Ceylon. The heartwood doesn’t have distinct annual rings; it is very hard and heavy and belongs to the most valuable wood species.
The ebony fruits are used for production of dark brown dye.
The fruits of ebon tree
Padouk ( Pterocarpus macrocarpus) the most common tree in Southeast Asia. It grows very slowly. The height of the tree is 10-30 meters, the peeling bark has grey-brown color, the trunk has diameter up to 1.7 meters. The leaves have length of 20-35 cm, they are pinnate and have 9-11 small leaves.
Padouk tree bark is used for obtaining of light-brown color with the shade of red clay.
Our other colors are a mixture of the main colors. For example the leaves of mango and indigo give a green color, sapanwood with indigo gives a purple color.
In conclusion we would like to mention that this production is safe for the environment. It is important for people who are willing to live in harmony with nature as it is done by wonderful workers from the Village of Nadi, continuing the profession of their great grandmothers for the benefit of the future generations.