Some people have asked me about my work in natural dyes. It seems like so much work, they ask, why even bother? Wouldn't it just be easier to just use acid or procion powders, as well as more predictable and safer?
Well yeah actually it would. But though I also work with synthetics, natural dyes have something that the ease of the synthetic can not replace. Some I am sure work in natural dyes because they like to play chemist, but for most of us I think it is because the colour of a natural dye is simply beautiful in a way that can't be mimicked in a synthetic.
I have read many impassioned arguments for the superior beauty of natural colour from it's advocates which is met with confusion and lost on those who don't work in the media. I know enough people who see no difference in the blue of indigo and the indigo blue of a synthetic, yet to me they are clearly not the same colour. So I have begun to think that maybe those who work in natural dyes (or with natural pigments) actually see colour differently than other people. Perhaps we see more colours or distinguish them better?
What we are seeing can be put under the umbrella of what is called abrash (one of many spellings) in the rug trade. All natural dyes, no matter how carefully one may dye them, have abrash-that is variation in hue, chroma and value from dyelot to dyelot or even in the same dyelot. It can be quite noticeable or at times can be very subtle, however it is always present in a naturally dyed item. Even one that at first glance appears to be a single colour always upon closer inspection is comprised of many other colours making it sparkle like facets do for a gemstone.
I think this may be the reason we prefer natural pigment, abrash makes for a richly diverse and luminous colour, a colour that obviously contains other colours. The cold sea of uniformity that is common to the chemically uniform synthetic dye is dreadfully austere and boring. All unity, no diversity. One must take specific steps to try and artificially achieve Abrash-which some actually do (okay okay some is me. I always tinker with the dyes and synthetic dyes gone bad are some of my favorites...) but it is never as beautiful. However this isn't as plain to everyone as it is to those of us who love it.
One might say natural media reflects the trinity, heh. Of course it shouldn't surprise that creations do reflect their creator. A synthetic dye is so singular and homogenous like the men that developed it. A natural dye experiences a little bit of perichoresis of it's own. And of course even though it is beautiful in it's complexity, it isn't always apparent or appreciated by those who don't want to see it.
Everything can be related to theology some way or another.