by - Thursday, April 30, 2020

A new website built by Maiwa to contain our natural dye instructions, research, tips and projects.

For over thirty years we have travelled the world to investigate natural dyes and the cultures that use them. Now we have created a highly visual space to share this information.


The aromatic steam that rises into the air from the dyepot, especially when working outside on a cool morning, is one of the most compelling aspects of the dyer’s studio. Indeed, working with natural colour is such a sensual experience that many artisans work with natural dyestuff for the sheer pleasure of making the vat. The saturated colours of the immersed materials are also highly photogenic—as is the entire dyeing process.

Maiwa’s obsession with natural dyes is well known. What is less well known is the work that we do behind the scenes each time a shipment of natural dyestuff arrives in our warehouse.

Samples of yarns and fabrics dyed with Maiwa's natural dyes tested for quality.

Our famous "Guide to Natural Dyes" on the website and as a downloadable PDF.


As an artist, to make colour with natural dyes is to experience a direct connection with your materials. And each of these materials, each dyestuff used, can be a doorway to a new world.

Putting natural colour on cloth involves the use of leaves (such as indigo and henna), barks and woods (logwood, osage), roots (madder, aal), flowers (chamomile, marigold), fruits and nuts (walnut, myrobalan, pomegranate), minerals (alum, iron), and insects (cochineal, lac). These are just some of the classic materials that have been used for thousands of years.

Some colours that come from our natural dyes


Our role is a bit like that of a master vintner who evaluates multiple grape harvests to make an exceptional wine. We do a complete set of sample tests to evaluate the shade and strength of our shipment. Dyes from natural sources will change with each season. If there has been only little rain one year, the concentration of dyestuff in the plant will alter. So we often combine and blend stocks from multiple years to ensure that the raw dyestuff will yield consistent results. 

At Maiwa our policy is to acquire the raw dyestuff in its most elemental form (wood chips, roots, petals) so that we can ensure purity. We then process it into the form (usually a powder) that works best for the artisan dyer. We use natural dyes extensively in our own production, so we can ensure that each package contains a product we would be proud to use ourselves.

Information, instructions and recipes for dyeing with all of our natural dyes.


Indigo is the first dye we use at Maiwa. When exploring a new relationship with block printers, or scaling up a weaving or dyeing project, indigo is first. In contrast, when we are teaching, indigo is last. The experience of working and dyeing with indigo is so powerful, there is such magic in the process, that if we began with indigo, the students would never move on to the other colours.

Maiwa, after thirty years, has formed an intimate relationship with indigo. We have worked with historians like Jenny Balfour Paul, researchers like Dominique Cardon, and botanist-chemists like Michel Garcia. We’ve brought together block printers from Rajasthan and the Kutch desert and placed them in the same natural dye studio as ikat weavers from the south and eri silk farmers from Ethiopia. Indigo connects them all.

Information, instructions and recipes for dyeing with indigo.
Our "How to Dye with Indigo" on the website and as a downloadable PDF.







To our U.S. customers – don't forget that the exchange rate works in your favour, it's like an extra discount.

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