Friday, January 15, 2016

New Strides with Natural Dyes

Safi Crafts made huge strides with natural dyes this autumn. With the help and funding of UNESCO we were honoured to participate in a training program by international natural dye expert Michel Garcia. He taught us how to process indigo leaves on the farm and then how to use the dye. He also showed us how to silk screen print with our new natural dyes. It was an intense and fantastic learning period for us culminating in the official launch of our new lines and a Christmas exhibition in Amman. 

In the past two and a half years we have received training in design, dyeing, farming indigo, finishing products, marketing and accounting. UNESCO (with funding from the Drosos Foundation) has renovated our building to give us more room to work. We would like to thank Valentina Gamba and Nuria Roca Ruiz for working so tirelessly for our program. 

Aishe and Noor strip indigo leaves for soaking. Later we eliminated this time consuming stage of production by using larger soaking containers. 

Oxygen must be added to the soaked leaves in order to precipitate the dye. Mr Garcia introduced an electric pump to the process - another labour saving concept that we love. 

After making the indigo dye insoluble it must settle and drain in an indigo bag. 

Once we learned how to make indigo dye we learned Michel Garcia's method of dyeing using henna leaves in the dye vat. We later switched to using bananas.

What a blue! Michel Garcia, our natural dye guru, is on the lower right of this picture. 

Michel Garcia also improved our resist paste and showed us how to print white images on blue grounds.

We did lots of experiments to get the best print results. 

 We also learned to print with mordent pastes and dyes like madder root, eucalyptus bark, pomegranate and tea. 


Our new leaping deer design is based on an ancient mosaic from Mount Nebo, Jordan and is part of our artistic heritage.

Our scarves are hand finished.

We worked with many new designs and prints. This one says "From the heart of Jordan".

This tomato plant design says "Jordan Valley Tomatoes". 

Mirvit led the charge on the precise art of hand sewing our new "Rudolph the Red Nosed Camel" Christmas tree ornaments. We sold out at the exhibition!

In early December we officially launched our new lines and showcased the progress we have made in the past two and half years with the help of UNESCO. We loved showing our work at the wonderul venue Shams al Balad in Amman.

Kamlee ran the tabone oven as part of our celebration of rural Jordanian life that we shared with urban people in Amman. Yum!

Mirvit, Aishe Jean and Alia.

Our amazing newly renovated building. Come and visit us in the Ghor al Safi, Jordan.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Our New Products

With our new and expanded natural dye pallet - including indigo blue from our own farm - we are excited to present our new product lines.

Mirvit has been working on a line of tableware including these gorgeous shibori place mats and serviettes, dyed with indigo and madder root. 

Mirvet added a series of hand 'couched' wool coasters to protect your table. We hand spun the wool in the traditional way our grandmothers taught us and dyed it using all natural dyes.

With our home grown indigo we are making wonderful hand stencilled patterns like this rosette based on the stone carvings at Jordan's own Castle Mashta.

- a design that works well on cushion covers and scarves. 

Speaking of scarves, Weesal has designed a beautiful line of gauzy delicate colors using shibori techniques and dyes such as madder root, indigo, pomegranate and mushroom. She uses the white cotton called bwal traditionally used for men's head dress which is the finest available. 

We are also working with canvas to make these practical shopping bags in bold stripes - all created with natural dyes. Fatme is the seamstress.

Our families will always be our main love and inspiration so we enjoy embroidering these images of our children - using thread dyed only with plants and minerals. The image is made with a resist that uses mud from the Dead Sea.

We embroidered chickens from our homes. 

And some of the cats who live in our town of Safi. 

Of course there are camels in the town of Safi too. But we took this wonderful image from the 1500 year old mosaics at Mount Nebo, where Moses is said to be buried.