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  • Writer's pictureBermingham & Co.

Ikat: dyeing process

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

An intricate and arduous process of "resist" dyeing using natural vegetable dyes.

Once wrapped in their appropriate places, the skeins are removed from the rack and given their first dye bath.

“The dyes used are typically natural dyes derived from local plants like pomegranate skins, madder root, walnut shells and indigo”

It is common to see bubbling cauldrons of dyes lined up in a workroom waiting for the next batch of silk, suspended in ancient stone tables over a blue gas flame.

The first dye bath that the threads will receive is usually the lightest color that will serve as the base for other color combinations (ie, yellow to create a final color of green after re-dyeing with blue). Once the skeins are removed from the dye bath and stretched out to dry, they are set back up on the pipe rack, in the same order as before, and the wrappings are removed and changed to protect different areas in preparation for the next dye bath. And so on and so on.

The forethought needed regarding the final resulting colors is incredible since the artist must factor in the blending of colors, the intensity of the dyes and the areas to wrap and unwrap in certain orders.

Also , due to the fact that the dyes are natural, certain ingredients are not always available at various time of the year and colors are not able to be matched exactly from batch to batch.


However, using this technique, the craftspeople create textiles with up to 8 distinct color combinations which is an amazing feat in itself.

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