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Dyeing With Lac

lac dye with barney removing water from cloth

lac dye used for tie dye

Lac Dye is a fascinating product, made from insect secretion and harvested by inoculating trees with Kerria Lacca insects.

Cultivation begins when a farmer gets a stick that contains eggs ready to hatch and ties it to the tree to be infested. Thousands of lac insects colonise the branches of the host trees and secrete the resinous pigment. The coated branches of the host trees are cut and harvested to create the lac dye – Wikipedia

The results were way more purple than we were expecting, having originally been expecting a deep red result. This is a sign of an alkaline solution (acidic dye solution gives more orangey colours) – so much depends on the additional treatments used that each dye can produce a range of colours, sometimes dramatically different from each other. Indeed we expected this colour from mimosa dye, which in the event turned out brown!

Basic process:

  1. Wash fabric in alum and cream of tartar solution in warm water
  2. Squeeze out liquid, add fabric to Lac dye bath (1 litre warm water, 20 g Lac powder)
  3. Give fabric a soak in copper sulphate solution

Tie Dye:

  1. After the initial soaking, squeeze out the excess liquid
  2. Lay the fabric out on a table and twist from the centre
  3. Secure at intervals with string or elastic bands (the tighter you tie the less dye will get through and the more distinctive the final pattern will be
  4. Proceed to the dye bath stage

 

All our dyes come from ecologically aware producers, working to strict employment ethics and environmental responsibility standards. Our Lac comes from a producer certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards).

Rinse fabric treatments thoroughly

OK, it’s first efforts like this where you iron out the kinks, but not a bad tie dyed pillow case – deep rich purple colour (like what we were expecting from the mimosa)

 

 

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