Art and Science of Tea Silk Dyeing
Tea As an Organic Dye
Did you know, apart from being used in making nice beverages, Tea leaves can be used as an organic dye for textiles, mainly for silks.
I didn't know until I explored the amazing art of textile dying using tea. A complicated dying process makes a unique and precious tea silk fabric. Fashion designer Kathrin von Rechenberg is making her mark in a male dominated industry through producing finest quality hand dyed tea silk. While much of Chinese fashion world is obsessing about big brands such as Gucci, Louise Vuitton and Chanel, Kathrin von Rechenberg has embraced an ancient art of tea silk dyeing to produce trendy fashionable wear.
Munich born Kathrin traveled to China in search of a very special fabric called tea silk which became her signature fabric when she founded her own designer label. Since then, tea silk has been the identity of The Rechenberg Couture.
The Dyeing Process:
Kathrin's store follows a long process of dyeing the fabric and hence her label produces very best kind of dresses for women. The process starts with procuring right kind of neutral color silk, that has no mixing. It is very important for the dyeing process that the silk is one hundred percent pure. Any mixing of synthetic yarn can bring a lot of color difference. The fabric is sent to the dyeing center where it is hand dyed using tea leaves and twigs. Depending on the requirement, the fabric is repeatedly dipped into yam root dye solution.
After dyeing, the fabric is then left under the sun, in a grass field. The grass keeps it from touching the hot earth directly. The drying process is repeated as many as 20-30 times. The sun gives dyed fabric a nice and permanent color. The process may take longer time depending on the weather.
The fabric is then soaked in red mud extracted from the river. After this fabric is dried again. The fabric is washed thoroughly after drying. Washed fabric is again dried and now it looks dark on one side and rusty red on another side.
Now the fabric is sent to the tailors for creating beautiful dresses.
Tea Silk Dyeing - Do It Yourself
In the beginning, it was all overwhelming looking at the commercial production process of the tea silk fabric and it appeared next to impossible task to produce any with usual ease of DIY projects. But we after a little bit research on the internet, we found many DIY blogs about tea silk dyeing. Here are few that we liked the most:
- Alyssa's website on tea silk dyeing has some lovely and well described DIY project for tea silk dyeing.
- Another blog LotusOutLoud tells about tea dying for antique fabric look here.
Enjoy your time exploring the colors that Tea Silk Dyeing offers ;) See you soon.