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The Grandparent Diaries … All about the Dyeing Process!

Posted by on November 5, 2014

What do you actually need? Food, clothing and shelter. Everything else is entertainment.

~Aloe Blacc

We’ve had a TON of fun investigating the emails we are receiving from Carter’s Grandparents, who have been travelling through India. One of their emails told us about how fabric is “stamped” using wooden blocks and natural dyes made from the plants and spices they have around them!

In India many people decorate fabric with a technique called BLOCK printing! Here, they are using a wooden stamp and green dye made from SPINACH!

In India many people decorate fabric with a technique called BLOCK printing! Here, they are using a wooden stamp and green dye made from SPINACH!

WHAT? Did you say SPINACH? Yup … SPINACH! On THIS fabric, they used the green to OUTLINE the design. Oh, oh … here goes a bunch MORE wondering! By NOW, you shouldn’t be THAT surprised by our natural curiosity!

That YELLOW tub ... at the FRONT of the photo ... is a mixture of CURRY and MUSTARD! Wow! AMAZING!

That YELLOW tub … at the FRONT of the photo … is a mixture of CURRY and MUSTARD! Wow! AMAZING!

The YELLOW was used to fill in the GREEN outline made by the SPINACH! It must take SUCH a long time to complete stamping a piece of fabric to make a tablecloth or a sari. It must take a LOT of PATIENCE! If they can use SPINACH and CURRY and MUSTARD … we wonder what ELSE they can use to make bright, beautiful colours to decorate the fabric with?

Once the fabric is "stamped" then it's dipped into a SALT solution!

Once the fabric is “stamped” then it’s dipped into a SALT solution!

It’s TRUE … once it’s DONE, it’s DIPPED into SALT! But, we don’t understand why the SALT solution turns the piece of fabric RED! Hmm. We’ll have to do some more RESEARCH! After ALL the drawings are done, then they put them together to make a sari … or a tablecloth … or something else that is JUST as beautiful!

Wow. Is THIS how they make some of these saris? Carter's Grandma is SO lucky!

Wow. Is THIS how they make some of these saris? Carter’s Grandma is SO lucky!

We ALL agree that it sounds like a VERY complicated process. We LOVE that we are learning more about India through Carter’s amazing Grandparents. ALL of these photos have been taken by them and shared with us. We are blessed! Because of their adventures, we’ve discovered that MANY cultures around the world dye their fabrics using plants for natural dyes … INCLUDING the PIONEERS! We even managed to find a GREAT website that told us how we could make our OWN natural dyes. Several of us are going to save our avocado skin and pits because we REALLY don’t believe that they can produce a PINK dye! After all … avocados are GREEN!

We STILL have a TON of wonders:

  • What OTHER cultures use natural dyes to make clothing?
  • WHY does the salt solution turn the fabric red?
  • Have YOU ever made your own natural dye? We’d LOVE to hear about it!
  • What OTHER things can be used to make natural dyes.
  • How in the WORLD did people FIRST discover that you could use PLANTS to dye CLOTH?
  • Would natural dyes work as well as the Rit dye we used on our GEODES?

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

~Scott Adams

8 Responses to The Grandparent Diaries … All about the Dyeing Process!

  1. Ashli Akins

    Dyeing, Not Dying! Oh, what an “e” can do to change the meaning of a word!

    • Laurie Renton

      Hi Ashli!

      OH, what a funny girl you are! I think we like the “e” … much easier conversations, for SURE! I CAN’T wait to share the new photo of the Q’enqo library with the kids … past AND present! A few MORE photos came through on MONDAY, through Kristina’s Mom! SO exciting to see our library sprouting a life of its own! It truly makes my HEART sing!

      Laurie 🙂

      • Ashli Akins

        Oh phew. I see the title has been changed! When I first read it without an “e,” I thought, “Oh dear, this will be an interesting blog!” And yes, I have even more photos to share with you as well, and some updates! It seems our librarian, Santiago, is doing an amazing job!

        • Laurie Renton

          Phew is RIGHT!!! Ugh! Thanks for the “catch” … that “e” definitely makes ALL the difference in the WORLD … literally! Alas … tired brain syndrome! I am just SO thrilled to hear that Santiago is really making it come to life. We will look forward to your photos, Ashli … and maybe even some Skypes … we know you’re really busy this year with your studies, though, so NO pressure! Do you think Kristina would be okay if we used those photos on the blog … if we credit her? We’ll look forward to our connection, Ashli … you’ve stretched our learning SO amazingly over FOUR years now!!!

          Laurie 🙂

  2. Jenna

    Hi Mrs Renton and your new class. I was a battalion bloggers last year. I think you will love learning about the four counties. Hope you will get lots of hits.



    • The Blogging Hawks

      Hi Jenna!

      It’s nice to know that you were a Battalion Blogger last year! We’re glad that Battalion Bloggers from last year and the years before are still checking the blog!

      Yes, we are learning a LOT about the four countries we study in Grade Three. We are going to be starting our marionettes next week! We will be doing some research about the country we choose to make our marionette from. We are even going to make iMovies! What was YOUR favourite part of the marionettes and the iMovies from last year?

      The Blogging Hawks 🙂

  3. Marcus

    hello Ms. Renton

    i think it is cool that you can use avacodos for RED dye! Dont you thin k that is neat? It i fun to learn about India and the clothes they war and food they eat i LOVE learning about india.

    thanks!! 🙂 😉


    • Laurie Renton

      Hi Marcus!

      I love that you left a comment during our lab time today! I agree … I just think it is SO amazing how people use the natural world around them to create such amazing things! Now that you mention it, one of the bloggers brought in an avocado to school … and … I think I put it in the staffroom fridge! I should see if it is still there because it would be AMAZING to figure out HOW they make the dye from the skin and the pit! Remind me!

      Mrs. Renton 🙂

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