Friday, September 12, 2014


With UNESCO's support we have started dyeing with the wonderful plant based dye - indigo. Through history this dye has been just about the only source of the prized color blue on textiles. There is a more complicated dye procedure than other dyes but the results are addictive.

We have planted indigo seeds and are hoping they will germinate this week.

We are testing resist pastes that block the blue dye, leaving white areas. To our delight we have discovered that our local Dead Sea mud is an excellent resist. These test strips vary in the source of the mud and the application onto the fabric. After dyeing the fabric is washed and the mud cleaned away.

Best of all we are now able to make things like this hat and dress.  Noor and her daughter Sabeel are very pleased with the results of our indigo work. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Dyes from the Plants of Jordan

With support from UNESCO and research from the Jordanian Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature we have located and harvested wild madder root near Dana Village in Jordan. The is exciting news and we have been very happy dyeing with the roots. So far we have found many lovely pinks on cottons and bright orange on wool. We are still working to achieve the difficult pure red. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Training Workshops January 2014


We are getting support from UNESCO now, as well as continued support from Aramex. So our design and natural dye skills have been kicked up a notch to launch the new year. Check out our new work.

 We took camera's home to photograph our families. 

Then we drew our families by looking at our photographs. 

After cutting stencils based on our drawings, we stenciled using only paint we made ourselves from local ochre. Then we embroidered.

Weesal's nephew holds her portrait of him and his brother. 

We painted more self portraits to be made into bags. 

Negemi painted this wonderful portrait. 

We are spinning lots of wool these days and using it for crochet and couching. 

We did a lot of dye experiments including lemon leaves, our local giant milkweed, carrot leaves and henna - as well as old favorites like ochre, pomegranate and tea.

We planted indigo and madder to complete our color pallet of natural dyes. The indigo will be ready to harvest in a few weeks but the madder takes three years.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Spinning and Weaving

A house in Safi wears a hat of wool - left to dry in the sun after being washed. 

For the first time at Safi crafts we showed off our traditional spinning skills - passed on from our mothers and grandmothers. A drop spindle- or more accurately a roll spindle - is rolled along the thigh after the wool is finger carded. 

We didn't get around to dyeing the wool except to quickly dip a small amount into red ochre. We are excited to experiment with more dyes in the near future.

The loom is set up on the ground using broken pieces of concrete, discarded iron rebar and twigs snapped of a nearby bush. Nothing in Safi is ever done alone so three pairs of hands are better than one. 

This is a mini version of the large traditional ground looms used to make warp faced rugs and the black goat hair tents still used as Bedouin homes. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Colours from the Earth

We've been digging ochre from the ground near Wadi Mujib on the shore of the Dead Sea. 

Sometimes it seems the rocks are sweating with color. Or maybe it was just the 45 degree (105 F) heat that made us think so. The crusty stuff is salt - stained with ochre.

Arwa strikes a pose in front of the setting sun. 

 After we dye the cotton we sew it into colorful market bags like this one. 

Tomorrow we are going to spin wool and experiment with the mud dyes. Usually protein fibres take dye much better than cellulose. We'll post the results.