Pandemic and Dyestuff Exploration

The Dried Scrap Collection

The kitchen waste project was inspired during the lockdown phase in March 2020.

It is a self-reflection of my own thoughts during the uncertain times and the feelings of disappointment after knowing I will only be able to experience university life for only six months. Therefore this piece really expresses and resonates with my emotion especially since almost all of the color creation was unplanned and unintended. Being a natural dyer, I usually require space and utensils for me to experiment. Unfortunately, I have to adapt to the current situation and make the best with my limited resources.

While looking at the current waste problem we experienced during the pandemic, I started to realize how much waste I have produced and how can I, as a maker try to make full use of my surroundings.

Preparing Dyestuff

I cooked most of the time and took the time to separate the kitchen waste for example; onion skin, peeled potatoes, spring onion, and many more. Each color literally extracted based on my cooking. It somehow represents me and describes me in colors. I also deepen my knowledge in natural dye-making and combine various techniques in my process. The hue produced was made purely from kitchen waste ingredients. To be exact, it is the color of my chicken soup, fried rice, sandwiches, and many more! It is true now that I can say, you are what you eat!

My home studio space

As a modern maker, I see myself dealing with and sharing my knowledge in making a craft that has deeper meaning rather than talking only about aesthetics. I like to incorporate materials and narrative into craft making and show craft lovers that we have bigger responsibility to educate our society especially tackling the waste issue or other major problems happening in the world. Besides that, I feel compelled to tell and showing to the makers that it's possible to use and come up with a craft product, even though we have limited space and tools, especially during this time.

While the situation forced me to adapt and shift my hands-on experience from the university workshop to the home base studio, I took on the challenge of looking for the possibility of making organic dyes from my home cooking meal. To begin with, I started to list down all of my food ingredients and see how far these materials can extract colour pigment. According to experienced natural dyer Jenny Balfour, she wrote that in each of the world’s greatest civilizations, people discovered independently how dyes could be made from local natural resources. Therefore, common kitchen waste could be explored to be extracted as a natural dye. In this experiment, a two-week period was set by separating 2 types of meals in my daily meal preparation. I did not set any goals at the beginning of the exploration as I presumed that any food I prepare would yield a wide range of swatches of

colour. We use very rich ingredients in Malay cooking to give each prepared meal a variety

flavour. This includes the use of coconut milk, chilies, cilantro, variety of vegetables, herbs and spices.


The Outcome - Tapestry of Kitchen Waste Dye

73 views0 comments