I took part in a wonderful Plant Dye workshop in the Sacred Valley of The Inkas in Cusco, Peru with the ladies at Pichinku Fibres. I wanted to learn about what was possible with natural dyes especially in this region of Cusco. How can I keep the footprint of HJK products to a minimum and utilize natural, sustainable materials that are here in one place – close to the raw materials and close to the women who will be crafting beautiful things with it, smoothing out the supply chain to make everything as sustainable, beautiful and efficient as possible. As well as partnering small local businesses that support women and their indigenous knowledge, from the ground up.
The abundance of natural materials and sustainable possibilities in Peru are extensive. I was blown away by the range, saturation and colors available from Mother Nature that are sourced from the fields of the Sacred Valley, the rocks of the mountains and sometimes even by the side of the road.
We did 3 dyes, all of which need to be prepared in different ways using - from left to right - Chilca leaves; makes bright yellow and green, Eucalyptus Bark; boiled with Tara pods and Collpa Verde to make grey, and Chapi roots; to make dusty salmony pinks.
Dye pots ready to go!
Preparing the Eucalyptus Bark by crushing it with stones to grind it into smaller pieces.
Preparing the Chilca by pulling the leaves off the stems.
The Chapi needed to be soaked in water for a few minutes until it was easy to scrape the bark from the stems of the plant.
The Chilka leaves boiling in a big pot of water.
Dana explaining to us the various natural fixatives used to hold the dye to the yarns. One of these was a lichen gathered from rocks up the hill behind their workshop.
Dipping, boiling, soaking and rinsing.
The amazing vibrant bright yellow achieved by the Chilka!
The final salmony pink of the Chapi and the grey/green of the Eucalyptus.
Laying the dyed hanks out to dry after dying and rinsing.
The natural colors soaking up some of the Sacred Valley sunshine.
Thank you to Dana, Angela, Santusa and Leonarda for their help and guidance, and thank you to Mother Nature for providing everything we could ever need. x
We used Pickinku's plant dyed cotton to make our Water Bottle Holder!
You can find out more about Pichinku and buy their beautiful, naturally dyed yarn here.