Dyeing in Indigo

dye demoB

On Monday Hilary went on the first Craft Club excursion of the new season – a dye demoAvisit to Osman Can’s studio in Çamlık where we were treated to a demonstration of indigo dyeing, a guided tour, tea and cake.

All of the wool used in the carpets is handspun and coloured with natural dyes.  The spinning takes place in various studios scattered around the country.  The spun wool comes to Çamlık for dyeing and making into carpets.  We were shown indigo, madder, wallnut shells and a kind of daisy that produces the yellow colour.  MyOsman-Can-2 friend in Ireland thinks this might be dyers’ camomile (Anthemis tinctoria), which makes sense.  The different colours are made by use of these dyes in combination.  They dye the amount of wool needed for each carpet, ensuring that the finished product is perfectly consistent (and also avoiding any waste).

We saw a vat prepared with solar heated water to which Mehmet added cream of Osman-Can-3tartar then indigo.  A huge hank of handspun wool was lowered into this on a winch then pulled out several times so that the strands could be rearranged before it was dipped again to ensure that the dye took evenly.  Finally the colour was tested by being dipped into bleach.

dye demoDHere you can see the result though, really, the internet can’t do justice to these wonderful, deep colours.


After the dyeing we were taken through to where the carpets are woven. The knots are made so fast you can hardly see the weavers’ hands moving.  The intricate patterns are displayed on a chart from which they can be accurately knotted.  The patterns are taken from historical examples in museums, though there are also some modern designs being created here.  After each row is knotted the threads are beaten down and then trimmed with special scissors which can be adjusted for different depths of pile.

Then we went through to the display area where many wonderful carpets were on show.  By this point both the cameras I had with me had run out of battery so I had to resort to my phone!



4 responses to “Dyeing in Indigo

  1. . . had the good fortune to see some of these processes several times over our time here. J is fascinated by natural wools and dyes and really can’t resist the hanks of colour. When we moved here she still had some from a visit to Iran in 1989 – they had survived all those years but some moth got at them over here and reduced them powder and debris.

    • Osman Can has a shop in Selçuk as well as the studio in Çamlık He’s providing work and training to local women as well as preserving techniques, patterns and processes and combining them with some very modern business knowhow.

  2. They were still doing this in our village when we moved here. Sadly this will be the first year with no looms.

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