Beautiful, bright, happy-yellow the sacred yellow that can only come from the root of the turmeric plant. Not terribly hard to find fresh these days but most widely used in the dry powdered form as a spice in most Indian cuisine. A beneficial addition to your diet (Curcuma longa) can help reduce inflammation, is a powerful antioxidant and has been used for thousands of years to aide in digestive disorders.
Similar to ginger, the turmeric plant is a rhizome and its roots are used most popularly as one of many ingredients that make up curry. The yellow coloring that comes from this root are used to color foods such as pickles, chicken stock and many Indian dishes. Turmeric is also wonderful as an all natural dye for fabric and has been used to color Buddhist monks saffron-colored robes for centuries and also is used in the Hindu religion ceremony honoring the Lord Krishna.
There are many ways to naturally dye fabric and achieve really beautiful hues of color and value. Typically a plain white cotton or muslin fabric or a flour sack towel works very nicely. Flower petals have been used for centuries to add color to fabric, marigold, violet, yarrow and coreopsis flowers native to our region, create bursts of color when rolled into fabric, as do some fruits and vegetables such as beets and berries. They all can be used to add color as well. Similar to tie-dye techniques, you can tie you fabric with twine to “white-out” any areas you don’t want the color to penetrate into or just apply the color to the tips of your fabric or paint on the colors. All methods can create new and interesting ways of making patterns and fun and unexpected results. An amazing guide and great resource for coloring, extracts and a closer look at fabric artisans is with Maiwa so many ideas and so much to learn.
Easy rules of thumb~
- If you are using flowers or plants to color fabric, pre-boil the fabric in a ratio of 4 cups water to 1 cup vinegar.
- Berry based color pre-boil the fabric in 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups water.
- Boil for 1 hour.
- Rinse, squeeze out excess water and now choose how you would like to color your fabric.
- Cook vegetables and/or berries ahead of time until tender. Strain out solids, use the liquid to dye.
- Turmeric powder is added to warm water directly. Approximately 1/4 cup turmeric to 8 cups water, stir well until completely dissolved.
- Pre-wash your fabric in required fixative, rinse well.
- If using flower petals or whole berries for a burst of color, add them into the fabric and roll up tied with string.
- Solid color, (either use beet, turmeric or berry liquid or any other dye material) add fabric, simmer in a large pot for 1 hour, let cool. Place in a jar and let sit for a few hours or overnight depending desired saturation.
- Rinse well, machine wash in cold water.
- Note: the turmeric works fabulously! Some trial and error and experimenting is recommended with the berries and beets.