Dyeing with Lac resin

In the studio, I’m focusing on working with one dye only. In this case, it’s Lac resin. I am changing the colours using tannins and mordants. A pot of Lac dye was made using whole resin form; afterwards I ground it down in the blender; I think I prefer the ground up version. Less mess to clean in the pot afterwards.

Lac is the scarlet resinous secretion of a number of species of lac insects

These bugs are found in India, Nepal and Thailand. In addition to dye, Lac also is used to produce shellac, so when it’s heated, it becomes a sticky clump. The branches are collected and put through a machine which separates the resin from the branch.

I bought a kilogram of Lac resin a couple of visits ago in Jaipur

Well, after 3 attempts at 3 Lac dye pots, I have decided to put the Lac aside for now. I was looking forward to darker shades of burgundies and plums, but instead was getting pale pinks and eventually browns, once iron was added. Quite some time, energy and material spent on experiments that yielded mostly unsatisfactory results. While the cotton pieces look good, the colours were not what I had wished for, when using Lac resin. Therefore, I tried my hand at another dye, Sappanwood.

The photos below show the final results of the Lac dyeing

Currently, in my dye practice, I am using upcycled fabrics, which I am purchasing in used item stores and from yard sales

My preference is to dye on cotton, as it’s far more challenging than silk and I think it’s a more versatile fabric. Cotton can be used for clothing and home decor. I will also be dyeing linen, for the same reasons. Additionally, these fabrics have always been very functional in my daily life.

This photo shows the gold coloured cotton fabrics dyed with Lac resin. The other purple and cranberry toned fabrics were dyed with Sappanwood dye.

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Hi. I'm Maija.

Producer of one of a kind fabrics, I am a Visual/Textile Artist at MaiTribe Studio Gallery, in central Ontario, Canada.

My life and art have been inspired by my travels  to countries such as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Bali and India.

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