Natural Dye Story: Palo de la Vida

Did you know that “Palo de la Vida” literally translates to mean “The Tree of Life”?  It’s soooo poetic and we love it.

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Our partner weavers at the cooperative Corazón del Lago use the bark from this Tree of Life to get the rich chocolate color found in our Hummingbird Collection.  The textiles are naturally-dyed with ikat designs and handwoven on a backstrap loom.  It’s an amazing process, and because no words can really describe the magic, make sure to watch our video.

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The chocolaty brown reminds us so much of Fall… and goes great with the genuine leather we use for our boots and clutches.

And hey, we have some good news: Our Hummingbird Wraps in Palo de la Vida are on sale for $70 right now ☺️ We only have a few at this price, so take advantage for this beautiful scarf season.  Remember, your purchase goes to support these weavers at Lake Atitlán.

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Photo credit: Birds of a Thread

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Cochinilla: learn about this amazing not-so-vegan natural dye.

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Indigo: our go-to absolute favorite color.  Do you know where else you can find this plant dye?

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What is indigo?

Our hands-down #1 favorite naturally-dyed color is indigo.  It’s our best-selling color for a reason… it’s so beautiful!

But do you really know what “indigo” is?

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Indigo comes from several plants

Well, indigo is a dye that is derived from plants (there are actually several different ones).  Most commonly, the leaves are used to make the indigo dye, and there are indigo plantations around the world that produce the dyes.  We get our indigo dye from our neighbors in El Salvador, and it comes in powder form as seen in the bowl below.

 

Have you ever seen the indigo dyeing process?  It’s pretty magical because the classic navy blue color sets with exposure to oxygen and light – this means that it takes a moment for the colors to turn blue.  Take a look at this video, at about 7 minutes you can see the transformation of the yarn coming out of the indigo vat:

It’s pure magic!

The cool thing about indigo is also that it can traditionally be found all over the world…. think Japanese kimonos, Indonesian batik, and the beautiful handwoven textiles from Mali.

Japanese Kimonobatikmali indigo

All indigo.  All over the world.  Loved because of the strong dyes that don’t fade easily.  Indigo is also said to repel insects, snakes, and even fire – so wearing something dyed with indigo can come with some really practical benefits, too.

Intrigued? Take a look at this BBC video highlighting an indigo dyers in Nigeria.

It’s no surprise that we are all attracted to this deep blue color.  I wonder if it might even be ingrained in us in an evolutionary way – the way green nature calms humans, maybe the indigo blue has the same effect.

Whatever the reason behind our attraction to indigo… there’s just no beating this classic color.  It’s just a great, go-to staple.  Don’t you think?

Make sure to check out our Hummingbird Collection and our Quetzal Wraps in particular.  The intricate ikat designs made by our partner cooperative of weavers are just beautiful.

Hummingbird Collection by Kakaw Designs

Hummingbird Collection

Quetzal Wrap by Kakaw Designs

Quetzal Wraps – both color options have Indigo

 

XOXO,

 

Mari

 

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We’re crazy about our new wraps

We love all our products, of course (that’s why we make them) but we’re really excited about our wraps in particular.  Here’s why:

Hummingbird Wrap in Palo de la Vida

Hummingbird Wrap in Palo de la Vida

They are naturally-dyed and handwoven by our talented partner cooperative.  We’re always thinking of how to incorporate more textile into our pieces, and well our scarves are 100% textile, and that means more support for the weavers.

Francisca Scarves

Francisca, the founder of our partner cooperative of weaves, smiles with our new wraps.

They are luxuriously wide!  20 inches of gorgeousness.

Hummingbird Wrap in Cochinilla.

Hummingbird Wrap in Cochinilla.

They are 100% cotton and oh-so-soft.

Quetzal Wrap

Quetzal Wrap

They come in so many different colors, and make the perfect accessory to complete an outfit.

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Scarves make excellent holiday gifts!

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CHECK IT OUT:

We’re having a pre-holiday sale!!  We’ve got so much coming up that quite honestly we want to make sure we can meet all the demand for the holidays, by spacing out our orders.  So from now until November 7th, get 25% off boots and 20% off everything else on kakawdesigns.com, including our brand-new wraps!

25% off boots with code: preholidayboots

20% off everything else with code: preholidaygoodies

ENJOY!

We’re having a sale!

Spring is here, and it’s time to celebrate with some naturally-dyed colors!

We’re also getting ready to release some really awesome new products, and the truth is we need to make space in our inventory.  So enjoy a 20% off for our Hummingbird Collection accessories – both the clutch and the scarf! Prices are reduced directly on the website, so you can check out the products there.  Valid while supplies last.

HUMMINGBIRD CLUTCH

HUMMINGBIRD CLUTCH

HUMMINGBIRD SCARF

HUMMINGBIRD SCARF

And hey, meet the wonderful weavers who carefully dyed and wove these products:

Cochinilla

I first learned about the natural dye cochinilla when I visited Oaxaca, Mexico, many many years ago.  Since my mom is a textile artist and lover of all things woven and dyed, of course we visited many places working with natural dyes while traveling together.

Cochinilla insects on a cactus plant

Cochinilla insects on a cactus plant

Turns out, the beautiful reddish pink color comes from the cochinilla insect  (“cochineal” in English).  Now, you might think this is a bit gross; I think it is fascinating.  These beetles eat the red cactus fruits, and retain the color in their bodies.  The insects are harvested, dried, and crushed to create what is called the cochineal extract.

Here’s a short video focusing more on the use of these beetles for food coloring:

As for textiles, cochinilla is one of the strongest dyes found in nature, only second to indigo.  So it’s only natural that it can be found in many art forms all over the world:

Ground-up cochinilla and the resulting reds from the dye, woven. From the Andes.

Shibori-dyed with cochinilla.

Beautiful cochinilla hues.

 

Believe it or not, these vibrant colors are long-lasting, so you’re sure to enjoy the bright color in our Hummingbird Collection for years to come.

Hummingbird Collection in Cochinilla

Hummingbird Collection in Cochinilla

 

And hey, if you haven’t yet seen the video about the process of naturally-dying and backstrap weaving, check it out now!

 

 

XOXO,

 

Mari