Natural dye process is environmentally sound - Noon Design
08 Apr '10
3 min read
Noon Design Studio is the first and only natural dye production house in the US. They use only sustainably harvested and natural materials to achieve light fast, luminous and deep gorgeous colors. Their materials consist of fruits, woods, roots and even insects. For example, they use madder root, pomegranate, walnuts, indigo, cochineal bugs, and many other dyestuffs to get every color in the rainbow.
Natural dye is an ancient process found in almost every culture around the globe. The Egyptians used red cotton, dyed with madder root, to mummify their Pharaohs and were able to keep the secrets of the dark dye color a secret for centuries. The Spanish became addicted to the pinks and reds made by cochineal after colonizing central and south America. And indigo has long been used in Japan and Africa from pheasants to nobles.
Natural dye became almost obsolete after the industrial revolution and the discovery of chemical and petroleum based dyes. Most textiles today are dyed chemically and can contain harmful substances such as lead, other heavy metals, and even arsenic. Naturally dyed fabrics, on the other hand, are completely biodegradable and non-toxic if an organic substrate is being used.
Noon Design Studio has developed a new method of dying using technology that allows for production scale natural dying. They can achieve more even color, cost efficiency and higher volumes than other forms of natural dying. They can do yardage or piece dying and have small minimums. The minimum is ten pounds.
Noon Design Studio uses only natural mordants, and the mordanting process is a minimum of seven days to ensure the deepest, most light and wash fast colors. Only natural materials can be used with natural dyes, such as cotton, linen, wool, silk and bamboo. Polyesters are not dyable with this process.
The natural dye process is environmentally sound. The water and energy used in the process is minimized, and the water run-off is clean and can be returned directly to the water table.
Noon Design Studio was founded by Jane Palmer, one of the two founders of Noon Solar, a company providing portable solar power in bags for charging cell phones and iPods. Palmer and her business partner of Noon Solar, Marianne Fairbanks, began naturally dying textiles for their own products in 2004. Through trials and time, they created this new way of natural dying on a production scale. Starting in January of 2010, Palmer took over the natural dye side of the business and has begun focusing on offering this service to other designers around the US.
To date, both fashion and interior designers have utilized the services of Noon Design Studio. Small or large lots are welcomed.
Care of fabrics dyed with natural dyes should follow the care of the specific fiber. For example, cottons can be washed and machine dried but wools should be dry cleaned.
"Natural dye is important because it utilizes naturally occurring materials to create color without the use of chemicals, heavy metals or salt." says Jane Palmer.
She also says, "I love naturally dyed textiles because of their unique beauty; they have a presence of hand and luminosity that cannot be created with chemical dyes. I also love the dyes because of their sustainability with the earth and connection to thousands of years of history. It's a romantic process that we've updated to make it more available to designers and artists."
Noon Design Studio will be moving to the Los Angeles area at the end of May 2010.