I have spent several days at Saraswati Gardens helping in the dye area. One day last week, Padma noticed how much color was still left in the pulp after she made marigold dye. We decided to dry it out and see if something could be done with it.
The next day, the pulp still wasn’t dry so I separated into smaller pieces and placed it on cotton and silk fabrics. I thought it would dry better that way plus it gave us a chance to see what effect it would have on the cloth.
As I was distributing the pulp, I kept looking at the newspaper I had originally spread the pulp on. The color that was left on that paper was a vibrant yellow.
By the next day, the idea of using the pulp to dye more cloth was discarded as it was obvious that the color it produced was too light.
Two days ago, the dye project staff finished the first prayer flag made using dye only from Saraswati garden flowers. I think it is so beautiful.
The first flag below was colored with marigold dye, the second was from a rose dye, and the third was dye made from madder root. The dye for the yellow strip that goes along the top was made from turmeric root.
The dye used on the first flag below was made from turmeric root; the second is indigo and the third is rose.
The first flag below is another one dyed with madder root, the second and third are both from marigold dye with one being a lighter version than the other.
Since I’m learning a bit about making dye from plants this year, I have wondered whether or not I will start making dyes when I return to Seattle. Growing the flowers sounds right; being creative with them sounds right; but at the moment I don’t feel called to dye cloth.
Last night, I thought about the bright yellow marigold dye I saw on the newspaper when I was working with the pulp. Then another memory came to me. Many years ago, I was intrigued by handmade paper. At the time, I wanted to learn how to make it, but never did.
Maybe in my retirement, I will make paper and find ways to dye it using flower petals or roots, or maybe even leaves. Or perhaps the flowers and leaves will be used in other ways, such as in this photo of papermaking in Burma.
Is papermaking on my horizon? It very well could be.
To look at previous posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.