Friday, April 17, 2015

Sky Blue Thinking



We have processed and used indigo from our own farm! 





Safi Crafts had access to many forms of yellow dye from such things as pomegranate and ochre earth and we recently added reds from madder root which grows wild here, but blue was an important missing element. With the financial help of the Drosos Foundation with the guidance of UNESCO we planted an indigo farm and have now a full colour pallet of red, yellow and blue with all of the secondary colours of oranges, greens and purples.


Indigo is chemically tricky to process so we invited dye experts from Oman to teach us. Here Fatme learns how to soak and agitate the indigo leaves in a vat of warm water. 




After the leaves ferment there is some blue dye soluble in the water - but it needs to be concentrated. The next step is to add oxygen by whisking the water. Our agronomist, Dr Mohammad Qinna made our wooden whisk based on palm frond whisks used in Oman.




Whisking creates a green foam and the oxygen makes the indigo become insoluble and precipitate to the bottom of the vat - like fine sand.


Once the indigo settles to the bottom of the vat the water is poured off.

 

It is then the sludge is poured onto cotton to dry.



Here is the processed indigo ready to use. 




Our first indigo dyed cloth from our own farm!


It's a historic crop here in the Southern Jordan Valley and this is a dye vat at the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth excavated by archeologist Dr Konstantinos Politis- shown here speaking with one of our Omani visitors.


A huge thank you to the three wonderful experts from Oman from the women of Safi Crafts. Here is also our indigo dye teacher Jean Bradbury and UNESCO representative Valentina Gamba.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Our New Colour Palette


We have been busy expanding our colour palette using only natural plant and mineral dyes. We have added indigo blue to our colours and have started growing our own at our test farm. Madder root which produces reds, oranges and pinks grows wild here in Jordan. Yellows are easy to find. Our favourites come from pomegranate rind, olive leaves, camomile flowers and ochre earth. And blacks are made by adding iron to pomegranate, tea or eucalyptus bark.




Natural dyes produce different colours on wool or cotton. 


Our scrap pile of cotton fabric is rich in possibilities now. 




Friday, September 26, 2014

Our Children


We photographed our children.





Noor's embroidery of Safi kids is colourful and full of joyful details. 



Mirfet shows off her embroidery of Safi children which is painted with local ochre mud that we dig from Wadi Mujib. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Indigo


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.



To reduce the oxygen in the dye vat we use mashed bananas or chopped dates - both of which are farmed in our community.


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.


And this modern take on tie dye is beautifully modeled by Meesar's grandaughter. 


We have planted indigo on our test farm so that soon we will be able to use our own indigo! (Currently we purchase Indian sourced indigo from the United States)



 Irrigation is essential in the hot dry climate.


Our indigo test farm is experimenting with different forms of irrigation, seed density and fertilization.


Soon the wonderful blue dye colouring this hand spun wool will come from our own plants, just like the other colours do. 

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.