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Processing Innovations

Natural Colouration Technology

Natural ingredient dyeing


Natural colouration technology works well with wool textiles to produce a superior natural aesthetic quality and look. Wool adsorbs natural dyes better than synthetic textile fibres.

Renewable
Renewable

Natural dye is created from renewable and natural sources.

Biodegradable
Biodegradable

Biodegradable in terrestrial and marine environments.

Natural aesthetic
Natural aesthetic

Natural dye provides a superior natural aesthetic and look.

Natural dyes are extracted from natural materials such as plants, minerals and even shells and insects. There are two types of natural dyes. Adjective dyes which require a mordant (dye fixative) and substantive dyes which exhaust and fix on the fibres without the use of a mordant.

Plant-based natural dyes include woad, indigo, saffron and madder. Invertebrate natural dyes include Tyrian purple, cochineal and crimson kermes. Other naturally occurring dyestuff alternatives include bacteria derived dyestuff and bi-product dyes (such as dyes from food waste).

How it works

Natural colouration technology

Natural fibres such as wool, cotton and silk adsorb natural dyes better than synthetic textile fibres. Natural dyes have been proven to work well with wool textiles to produce a superior natural aesthetic quality and look.

If the natural dye is an adjective dye the fabric must be prepared with a mordant before the dyeing process begins. If the natural dye is a substantive dye, it will fix to the fibre without a mordant. Once the fabric is prepared for colouration, there are a number of steps in the dyeing process depending on the natural dye used, the fabric and the desired colouration.

Woolmark certified natural dye manufacturer


Some dye manufacturers are successfully producing natural dyes in a commercially usable form at an industrial scale.

Woolmark licensee Tintoria di Quarenga has created a natural dyeing processes called NATURALE that uses more than 200 natural ingredients to create a wide range of colours and shades suitable for dyeing wool and other natural fibres. The wool products manufactured using the dyeing process have been rigorously tested for quality and approved under the Woolmark Certification Program.

 

Woolmark partners using natural dye

Blindness, Feng Chen Wang and Richard Malone

2020 International Woolmark Prize finalists Blindness and Feng Chen Wang and 2020 International Woolmark Prize winner Richard Malone, used natural dye for their wool collections. Blindness used the process of natural fermentation and was able to take the indigo dyeing pigment from the plant and successfully dye wool fabrics and wool yarns. Feng Chen Wang, working with a group of artisans from the local community, extracted natural pigments from a variety of flora and herbal teas to create a sustainable, natural and environmentally friendly alternative to chemical dye, which was then applied to deadstock untreated wool by hand.

 

Working with a society of weavers in India, Richard Malone uses completely organic and plant-based dyes throughout his label. His International Woolmark Prize collection employs handwoven, traditional fabrics with organic and azo-free dyes, from protected farms that employ regenerative initiatives to sustain both jobs and the environment.

Extracts have been taken from the vembadam plant to produce a lilac colour, sky blue is achieved from the clitoria plant, marigold and myrobalan was used to complement the colour from the karungali plant and the wedlia plant produced luscious greens for the collection.

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