A Brief Description of Dyes
Pigment dyes

Pigment colors are mixed with kerosene and a binder. The consistency should be just right, for if it is too thick it gives a raised effect on the material, which spoils the design. Small plastic buckets with lids are ideal for storing the mixed colors for a few days. The motif is printed directly on white or light-colored ground with a variety of pigment colors. Pigment colors are widely popular today because the process is simple, the mixed colors can be stored for a period of time, subtle nuances of colors are possible, and new shades evolve with the mixing of two or three colors. Also the colors are visible as one prints and do not change after processing. Colors can be tested before printing by merely applying it onto the fabric. The pigment color is made up of tiny particles, which do not dissolve entirely and hence are deposited on the cloth surface while rapid dyes and indigo sols penetrate the cloth.

Rapid fast Colors

In this process, the ground color and the color in the design are printed on white and/or light-colored grounds in one step. The dyes once mixed for printing have to be used the same day. Standard colors are black, red, orange, brown and mustard. Color variation is somewhat difficult and while printing it is not possible to gauge the quality or depth of color.

Discharge Dyes

These dyes are used if you need to print onto a dark background. Medium to dark grounds are dyed on fabric with specially prepared dyestuff. The printing colors then used on the fabric contain a chemical that interacts with the dye. This interaction simultaneously bleaches the color from the dyed ground and prints the desired color on its place. Areas can also be discharged and left white. The primary advantage of this process is that vivid and bright colors along with white can be printed on top of medium and dark grounds.

Napthol / Reactive dyes

As the name suggests, these are two sets of chemicals, which upon reaction produce a third chemical essentially colorful in nature. Fabric is dyed in one and later printed with the other. The chemical reaction produces a third color. However, the biggest drawback of this process is that there are just a few chemicals available, which produce colors upon reaction.

Vegetable / Natural dyes

Historically of great importance, these dyes have acquired even greater importance now because of their eco-friendly nature.

Bagru Black This is derived by mixing acidic solution of iron - often rusted nails/horse shoes etc. with jaggery (country sugar) allowed to rot for about 10-15 days. Many other natural substances used for producing dyes are pomegranate skins, bark of mango tree, vinegar, slaked lime etc.

Bagru Red This dye is achieved by combining a source material such as alizarin with alum, the results ranging from pink to deep red.

Indigo Blue The internationally famous Bagru Blue is obtained from the indigo bush found throughout India.