When it comes to adding unique patterns with gamut of colours to your home, or accessorizing your simple looking furniture, or just following the latest home décor trends, you can never go wrong with tie-dyes. Incredibly versatile, the tie-dye décor has been around for hundreds of years, on fashion runaways, in our wardrobes and now it is well-settled in our homes. The beauty of tie-dye is such that its classic patterns and bold colours can complement the décor of any house without going overboard. Interestingly, the new wave of tie-dye love has more subtle and toned-down approach. The boho-style is literally having its moment. If you are still unsure about experimenting tie-dye in your living room, start off with this beautifully detailed mud-cloth throw. This will instantly add a pop of pattern to your room and keep the elegant look, intact. At Moonwit, we have some exclusive tie-dyed home accessories.
To further appreciate the precision and purity of tie-dye craftsmanship, in this blog, we will be delving into the world of dyeing, taking a sneak peek into its origins, differentiating the high-grade pigments (natural dyes) and understanding how this art thrives around the world (popular tie-dye techniques).
What is Dyeing?
Dyeing is a significant interaction between a dye and a fibre that involves change of colour. Some dyeing processes involve thorough penetration of the colour while others do not. The permanence of the colour achieved after dyeing is decisive of its quality. It must last several wear and washings. For natural dyeing, sunlight is a special raw material. A fast shade is achieved when the fabric is dried well in the sun.
History of Dyeing
The history of dyeing dates back to 2600 BC. Indigo, being the oldest blue dye colour known to man (sourced from indigo plant) was noticed in the wrappings of mummies in Egyptian tombs. A popular tie-dye technique from India, Bandhani dates back to Indus Valley civilization. There are traces of tie-dye in Peru, Egypt and Middle East from 5000 years ago. As far back as the 300s BC, there are evidences that Alexander the Great had mentioned about the beautiful tie-dyes he had encountered in India.
Natural and synthetic pigments
Natural and synthetic are the two types of dyes used. Natural pigments are environmentally viable as they are sourced from natural resources like plants, animals, minerals, etc. Some of the traditional elements used are shellac for red, iron shavings for black, and turmeric for yellow. Natural dyes are eco-friendly, non-toxic and sustainable. On the other hand, synthetic dyes are by-products of the advances made in chemical industry. There has been a shift towards synthetic dyes because they are easily accessible and easy on the pocket. However, a large part of the textile industry also believes in caring for the environment and thus, they prefer non-toxic, high grade, natural colours over non-biodegradable synthetic pigments.
Age-old and Incredible tie-dye techniques from around the world
A combination of two words, tie-dye is easy to decode. Instead of dyeing the whole cloth, only a part of the fabric is changed to another colour. The remaining is tied and left undyed, to achieve a certain pattern. The charm of tie-dye is that it lets you play with the fabric and manipulate it the way you want.
Tie-dye is mostly about resist dyeing. Ikat, Tritik, Bandhini, and Leheriya, are some of the very popular and beautiful tie-dye techniques from India. In these resist dyeing method, certain areas of fabric are pinched and tied with threads. It is also treated to a resisting material so that it does not let the dye affect it. When the threads are opened, a pattern of dots or other shape appear on the fabric in original colour. The rest of the fabric is dyed with another colour. Another easy variant of it is called glue-resist fabric dyeing.
It is one of the oldest techniques known to us and is extremely popular in Indonesia and India. This style involves the usage of wax which acts as resist. As per the design, some of the portions of the fabric are waxed and others are left unwaxed. Rice paste is used as the resist for ‘tsutsugaki’ in Japan. When the fabric is put in dye baths, only the unwaxed areas take the dye colour. It is repeated with several colours to create a melange effect. Batik was also included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2009.
Shibori Pole dyeing
This is a Japanese fabric dyeing technique, known for its striated patterns of dyed/undyed fabric. To achieve this popular look, the fabric is wrapped around pole like structure. This method also uses thread to pinch and stitch the undyed fabric before putting it into the dye solution. Clamp dye is also one of its variant styles, where it is folded around wood. Shibori stands out from the rest of the tie-dye techniques because it is more intricate and symmetrical. This works great on home décor accessories, like luxury throws.
This is a beautiful variation of tie-dye native to Thailand and Laos. It stands out for its burst of colours and usage of rich and dark base. The folding patterns are complex. Interestingly, the dyeing technique and details of the pigments used are kept to the community to keep it safe from inferior replications.
Adire also means “tie and dye”
This is the Nigerian style of wax-resist method which uses indigo fabrics only. This style is indigenous to the people of Egbaland in Ogun State in southwestern Nigeria but also throughout Yorubaland. Adire textiles showcase rich Yoruba cultural heritage. All credit must be given to Yoruba women for keeping this tradition alive and passing on the technique from one generation to another.
Ombre, Crumble and Folding Techniques
There is no end to the patterns that can be made with tie-dye techniques. The fabric may be twisted, folded, gathered or stitched. One can create marbling effect, diamond shape, spiral shapes, lines, circles and more, by sheer imagination and creativity.
Bai community in China also does a lot of tie-dyes. Not to forget, even African countries like Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sierra Leone have great fascination for this dyeing process.
Last but not the least, we must give it to the American hippie culture and psychedelic music of the 1960’s and 70’s for bringing tie-dye fashion back into our lives.