Monday, November 21, 2011

Soil as Fabric Dye? Earth Dyeing Hits Pay Dirt

Did you ever look at dirt and think about can I do with that?

No? Well it goes, dirt may seem like an unusual starting point for a clothing collection, but Hyun Jin Jeong of Earth Dyeing is doing just that. As novel as it sounds, the technique isn’t new—people have been using soil to imbue their garments with vibrant reds and balmy yellows for centuries. Ancient and mostly forgotten, the art of earth dyeing uses soil from different geographic regions to create a varied if subtle color palette. Chemicals in the textile-dyeing industry have a troubling legacy, Jeong says, but natural dyes are often seen as niche or impractical.
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Can Kenya break the global fashion industry's low-wage model?

Catherine Makie, 27, sews bow ties for European and US markets in Nairobi’s Kibera slum. Photograph: Anna Dubuis The textile industry i...