The art of dying wool, cotton and silk with natural substances dates back centuries and continues today. Extracts from flowers, fruits, vegetables, roots, berries, bark, insects and metals have all been employed. In fact, it is often possible for an expert to determine a rug’s country of origin by identifying the material used to make the dye.
Producing dyes from natural substances is an exacting and time-consuming process. The materials have to be cultivated or gathered, dried or treated, and then processed. Because flowers, fruits and other vegetative materials are available regionally and sometimes only in season, chemical or chromium dyes, also called synthetic dyes, offer a more dependable way to obtain and keep coloring agents consistent in quality and availability. The best dyers of wool and silk are artists and admired practitioners of the art who create colors that are dense, lustrous and of the highest quality.