Thursday, September 29

    How to Bring Black to Life With Natural Dyes


    Transition the longevity of deep tones by making your own iron water.


    1. shock or excite into action

    2. coat (iron or steel) with a protective layer of zinc

    MAKEUP – the atmospheric allowance of resonance to shift energy

    Amongst bipedal movement and sensory activation, our bodies are vessels to receive our experiences. Our vision informs our movement and choices based on the distinction that is created through shape, color and the memory of them. Resonance, as defined in chemistry, creates bonds among electrons stationed outside of their initial location. As defined in physics, resonance is an enlarged vibration caused by external stimuli – the vibration of two matching objects increases the amplification.    

    One of the experiences that creates profound nuance to our motion is color. Our eyes contain two photoreceptors within our retinas called rods and cones. Cones reflect color, rods inform what is black, white and grey. BLACKNESS is perceived through the absorption of light, converted into energy. Within plants, this process is called photosynthesis. Within humans, melanin is produced through a multi-stage process that allows the absorption of light to penetrate and protect the body. 

    Absorption of light depends on the electromagnetic frequency of a transmitted and the nature of its surrounding atoms. If the orbits are complementary in charge, light is absorbed. If the atoms are not complementary, light is reflected or transmitted. It is important to note that it is the nature of atoms to vibrate at various frequencies. When light, in the form of photons, finds complementary atoms, a bond is made and the atoms become excited, commencing a vibration. Once all the uplifted atoms are activated, they touch each other, converting into thermal energy – heat. When this happens, the light transforms into another form of being, differentiated from transmission. It transforms.

    BUILDUP – the chemical construction of atoms, ions and molecules to create vibrations.

    The colors and hues of dyes and pigments are due to the absorption of visible light by compounds. Visible light consists of only a small fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, which spans from long radio waves to short X-rays. Human eyes catch between 400-700 nm. Organic compounds (carbon linked to the atoms of other elements) absorb electromagnetic energy, but only compounds with several double bonds appear as colors during the absorption of visible light. Both the position and shape of the absorption band affect the appearance of the observed color. As wavelengths shorten and frequencies increase, the range of wavelengths move from red at 700 nm, the lowest frequency and longest wavelength, to violet at 400 nm, the highest frequency and shortest wavelength. 

    Dye molecules are each uniquely shaped – these shapes give them their unique essences and allow different rates of absorption, creating the wide range of tones observed from one dye source. Different dyes contain different chromophores (organic compounds that contain double bonds for the electrons to disperse) and supportive auxochromes as well as the positive cationic charges they exude. When light hits these chromophores, the energies of these specific wavelengths are absorbed onto the fabric and the remaining wavelengths are reflected, creating our perception of color. The positive charges of the dyes bond with the negative charges of the fabrics. Their opposite charges are what bond the dyes and fabric together. This connection forms ionic or hydrogen bonds with the makeup of the fabric material such as keratin in wool or cellulose in cotton. 

    An organic compound is added to either the dye or fabric to create a chemical bond between them – this process within natural dyes is called “mordanting”. Mordants are metal cations that act as bridges between dye molecules and fabric. Metals such as copper, aluminum, and, of course, iron allow multiple electron donors to bond. These bonds are stronger than the ionic or hydrogen bonds that would attach the dye directly to the fabric, which yields a longer-lasting color. 


    ROLLOUT – clarity on the disbursement of wavelengths to create iron water.  

    NOTE: The dying process through OUTOFSEAM is purely intuitive. There are measurements, protocols and procedures for the colors and tones to manifest in an ideal manner. However, we have found that engaging with the act itself, rather than the expectation of a result feels natural. Botanical dying is notoriously uninhibited and spontaneous. Experimentation, synthesis & choosing whether to shift or stay are personal conclusions. Create the space and opportunity for dyes to do their thing.


    Iron can be applied throughout various points during the transitional phase of muting colors. 

    Pre-Solution: Add iron to a bath of hot water BEFORE fabric materials are added. 

    During Solution: Add iron to the dye bath itself. 

    Post-Solution: Add the material to a bath of iron AFTER dying. 

    This experiment occurred completely on it’s own, no intention, straight happenings. 4 rusted screws sat in a mason jar during the rain storms of Hurricane Elsa in July + August 2021 in NYC. The jar was left outside throughout the downpour. After 4 weeks, on September 20, the solution was retrieved and 5 tablespoons of vinegar was added. 100 grams of crushed eucalyptus leaves were added alongside this solution into a stainless steel pot of 4 cups of hot water. Bring a jar just below a simmer for 2 hours to extract and exchange as much information between the materials. Turn off and sit overnight or about 7 hours minimum. Strain using a cheesecloth or coconut leaves into a separate container. This is your iron + eucalyptus solution. Because of it’s high concentration, a little can truly go a long way. Recommendation is 5-10 grams of iron per garment. Use more at your discretion, if needed.  


    • 4 rusted screws
    • Charged rainwater 
    • 5 tbsp vinegar 
    • 100g eucalyptus leaves 
    • 4 cups of hot water



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