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Master weavers say that color is personal and emotional. Unlike painters who blend colors, weavers employ color blocks, using their vibrant shades in a strong, bold way. For this and many other reasons, color is paramount to the piece and has the ability to "make or break" an end-product. In New Mexico, natural dye processes date back millennia, playing an integral role in our heritage. Dyes are extracted from native flowers, leaves, roots, wood, and earth. Since organic material is not consistent, this process less than an exact science. However, as with great chefs who combine quality ingredients to create flavorful dishes, you can begin by following this recipe and then make amendments that suit your palate.
The process starts with mordanting the yarn – combining water-soluble chemicals, usually metallic salts, that bond dye and fiber together to set the color in the wool.
4 ounces (113 g) wool yarn
8 percent (1 1/2 teaspoons) alum to weight of yarn
7 percent (1 1/2 teaspoons) cream of tartar to weight of yarn
Once the mordant process is complete, continue the dye process: