Fair Fashion

One Vat of Natural Cochineal Dye: Gorgeous, Multifarious Results

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Last weekend, I checked out a beautiful exhibit at Ogaard, a textile-focused studio and art gallery in Oakland, California. It featured a most interesting experiment in natural dyes. One vat of cochineal color was used by various designers over a several week period to dye fabrics of varying types, from silk and leather to cotton and wool.

Gradient Pink

Titled “Gradient Pink” both the type of fabric and the age of the dye affected the final colors; the sheer variety was a delicious surprise, and it was fun to see Eco-Chick favorites Feral Childe on display, as well as new-to-us eco-conscious designers like Ali Golden (whose almost-caftan dresses and reversible bags I’m coveting) and Laura Schoorl (whose leather tank is pictured top right).

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The cochineal dye vat was a pretty remnant from a month of natural dyeing. Amazingly, it took on a lavender tinge with cottons, whereas with most other fibers, it was pink. The magic of natural dyes!

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This zippered “lips” bag was an update on an 80s classic.

Check out Ogaard on Facebook for upcoming exhibitions.

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Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.