Cutch (Acacia catechu) is the source of the rich reddish brown color seen in Indian textiles. It is both a dyestuff and tanning agent. It has been used in India since ancient times. To make cutch extract, cutch wood is soaked in hot water until the liquid becomes syrupy. It is then cooled, pressed and cut into cubes and dried. After that, it is ground into powder for dyeing.
Cutch extract is sweet smelling in the dye bath and yields rich red browns with long cooking times. Cutch with an alum mordant will be golden yellow brown and requires a two hour simmer to develop its deepest shades; the addition of 10% WOF (weight of fiber) drugstore grade hydrogen peroxide or 2% WOF dissolved soda ash in the dyebath will dramatically deepen and redden the color. Cutch combined with iron will yield a lovely chocolate brown. We will often soak our cutch over night to aid in hydration, then dye with it the next day.
100g of cutch extract will dye approximately 500g (1.1 pounds) of fiber to a dark reddish brown shade.
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