[Sustainable Systems] Final Natural Dye Project

Natural Dye Project



For the natural dye experiment, I used 100% cotton as the sample fabric, cabbage as the dye material, alum as the mordant and iron as the assistant. Gowanus Canal, the most polluted sample and pH of 9, has the darkest color intensity and a green undertone. Pier 4, with the second most polluted sample and pH of 8, has a medium color intensity and green and yellow undertone. Prospect Lake Park, which is the third most polluted sample and pH of 7, has the lightest color intensity and violet undertone. Bottled water, with the cleanest sample and a pH of 7, has the bluest undertone.

The hypothesis is right: the higher the pH, the more polluted the water body is and the darker the color intensity of the natural dye. However, all the natural dye results turned out to have a very similar grey color, even though each natural dye looked different and were easily distinguishable when still submerged in the water.

If I were to do this again I would change the amount of time that I submerged the fabric, so that the fabric will absorb more tint from the cabbage, therefore allowing us to see clearly the differences between different water sources.


After the natural dye process, I got fascinated by the natural elements that was used to create the dye of the fabric. Going along with this concept I wanted to use other natural elements, such as wood to create a product. After a couple of design sketches, I decided to go with the embroidery hoop necklaces, keychains. I will use the natural dye fabric, place it inside the embroidery hoop, this will allow the fabric to be the center of attention. Handmade water designs will be created on top of the fabric, and that will allow different varieties for the design.

The purpose of this is to create a sustainable product, that spreads awareness and remind people about the water systems and water in New York City. With something tangible that is used on one’s body, it is much more effective remind to the user. Oppose to something that could not be used/bring around by the consumer. Therefore, I choose to create jewelry to help me convey my purpose.

People who are interested in sustainability, jewelry collectors, jewelry users, the general consumer. I see this product sold near the water sources in souvenir booths and other small shops around New York City, so people will be more aware of water sources.

The branding is minimalistic, using minimal icons and pictures to make sure the product stands out. The color scheme is inspired by the product itself, range of blue to lavender to match the colors with the product and the concept that these are products are water-based. As different designs are placed on the fabric with sewing that represents different water sources.

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