I recently made my first natural dyed fabric. I used fresh ground turmeric roots and Dorr Wool. Links below. This colour enlivens me in the dark of winter. What to do with this rich cloth? It will be stitched upon, perhaps appliquéd or cut up to be used in another piece. The strength of mustard-gold can be a challenge to work with, but I can trace this colour back to my earliest works 45 years ago.
Dyeing this golden fleece had an nostalgic affect on me. As the turmeric root spread its pungent colour into the wool in the dye pot, memories of my inner home landscape surfaced: curry, saffron, silk saris, and deep saturating heat of the tropics of South Africa. Growing up I often saw abundant strings of marigolds draped at the Hindu temples and the environment. I wrote about the influences of the hot Durban climate in this earlier blog.
Turmeric root is dried and powdered and has been used for thousands of years in Indian cooking. Turmeric is used to dye Buddhist robes. It also has symbolic meaning and its colour is considered auspicious and sacred for Hindus. Its healing ability is touted for inflammation and even Alzheimers. I often drink Golden Milk made with turmeric. I like the idea that my cloth is saturated with this sacred, healing herb. Perhaps that imbues the cloth with some healing elements.
Now this turmeric gold jumps out at me. I see it in the yellow centre line on the road; “Stay between the mustard and the mayo”, my daughter warns on foggy Nova Scotian nights. I see my grandson with his Tonka truck in the garden, chanterelles and school pencils. ( love those pudgy little bare feet!)
This natural dye link got me started. Dorr wool is made in England and used by rug hookers. It is wonderful to hand stitch and you can cut out shapes to appliqué and it doesn’t fray. I stitched Scarlett’s quilt from Dorr wool. You can order it from Encompassing Designs here in Mahone Bay – tell Christine I sent you! Learn more about the fascinating and symbolic history of turmeric here.
I’d love to hear if you have used turmeric in your natural dyes. Drop me a note.