OUR COLOR PALETTE:
AN INTRODUCTION TO OUR NATURAL DYES
Cochineal is part of Oaxaca's cultural heritage; it is considered one of the great treasures of the new world that made the region wealthy during the Spanish Colonial period. It was such a lucrative trading product that the Spanish Crown kept its place of origin in order to maintain its monopoly over it.
At the time, nobody imagined that the carminic acid responsible for the precious color was contained in the body of the Dactylopius coccus insect, a sessile parasite that lives on nopales (Opuntia Cacti). Cochineal produces an incredible palette of colors that range from magenta to burgundy and from pink tones to scarlet red.
Brazilwood is used as a traditional medicine to relieve cardiovascular and renal conditions. Brazil wood is not a particularly stable color and in the past their were very strict rules regarding its use. However, its color is so beautiful that we cannot resist using it; to improve its resistance to light we combine it with the cochineal-- the result is a red variant with a tendency towards brown.
Thousands of flowers are cultivated yearly in Mexico for the Day of the Dead. Following the celebration, we collect them from altars and dry them out. These flowers produce a brilliant yellow that we use alone or by combining it with indigo to produce a beautiful spectrum of rich greens.
The indigo we use is extracted in Niltepec, Oaxaca, where the indigofera suffruticosa plant is grown. Indigo is a dye that under normal circumstances is not soluble in water and requires a different process: the indigo must be prepared in an alkaline medium. The blue color appears through the process of reduction and oxidation; upon contact with the air, the fiber goes from yellow to turquoise, until finally reaching blue.
Chamula black is made through three days of intensive labor, using local plants that react with a special clay, which is rich in iron. It is a traditional technique developed by the indigenous Chamula women in the Highlands of Chiapas. This technique produces a deep and lustrous black.
Logwood produces a bluish-black. It is a color that the chemical colorants industry could not perfectly match. As a result, Logwood continues to be used despite the widespread use of chemical dyes. At Madda Studio, we like to combine it with our darkest wool to obtain a vibrant black. We also use it to create a deep purple.