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Dyeing Technology

American consumers and a growing number of the companies that cater to them are adopting the dyeing methods that have been used in Africa and elsewhere for centuries. Dyes were initially made from a wide range of sources that were naturally available, including insects, minerals, and fungi. The biggest source of dyes, however, was plants. Almost every part of the plant was used—bark, leaves, and roots. The plant’s flowers and fruit also served as dye sources. Natural dyes typically require a mordant (a substance used to set dyes) to bond the color to the textile—which, dependent on the mordant used, impacts the shade of the dye. Some dyes, known as direct or substantive dyes, do not need a mordant. Such dyes are naturally strong ...

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