Tuesday 26 April 2011

Dyeing With Supari (betel nut)

The Nepalese name for these large seeds is 'supari' although they are often erroneously called 'betel nut'. They are usually seen after meals as a breath freshener (pictured above) and also an important ingredient in 'paan'. The botanical name for the palm that produces these nuts is 'areca catechu'.

It is with the areca nut that we conducted our most recent dyeing experiment. Pictured above is powdered areca, powdering is necessary to obtain the maximum amount of colour. I used equal weights of alum (as a mordant), powdered areca and silk to be dyed (in this case a silk shawl). As you can see from the photo below, the resulting colour is a very pale brown. As with most natural dyes, the colour should be fast as long as care is taken with washing. A neutral detergent and just warm water is perfect for keeping this natural colour.

Another great use for the areca nut is in jewellery. Below you can see the beautiful colours of the nut's woody interior. This natural pattern of cream and brown patches varies from nut to nut, but a wide range of pendants and beads can be carved out.

The photo below shows a sample of some of the completed pendants. I will upload these and other accessories I have made in the coming week or two. If you are interested in other jewellery and leather work I have created for retail within Sorazora, please click here!