Terracotta: Our New Hand-Dyed Cutch Dye Collection

Our new cutch-dye collection is now live! This beautiful selection of terracotta bamboo and lace fabrics is naturally hand-dyed from the wood of ancient cutch trees. We contracted a local maker in Kansas City near us, Alyx Jacobs, to dye the entire collection by hand.

We love the natural color shades in the collection and know you will too! Learn all about this natural dye, its rich and beautiful history, and why it’s one of our favorite collections to date.

What is cutch?

In general terms, cutch is a type of wood. Cutch comes from a small, thorny tree that is native to Asia. These trees have yellow flowers, leaflets and small thorns. 

cutch tree for cutch dye

The wood itself is a rich, soft brown color that many people associate with the traditional color of terracotta. 

Cutch comes from a small thorny tree of the Leguminosae family and it is native to Asia. The leaves consist of multiple pairs of leaflets and the flowers are yellow and mimosa-like. The trees are cut after 30 years of growth.

In many ancient traditions, cutch has been used for a variety of purposes, including for medicinal purposes. For medicine, parts of the tree such as the twigs, bark, and wood are used to treat digestion issues or as an astringent for pain, bleeding, and inflammation.

Because of its rich history, cutch goes by many names depending on where you’re located and what you’re using it for.

Other names include: 

  • Catechu
  • Black cutch
  • Cachou
  • Cashoo
  • Terra Japonica, or Japan earth
  • Katha (Hindi) 
  • Kaath (Marathi) 
  • Khoyer (Assamese and Bengali) 
  • Kachu (Malay)

Cutch dye

Cutch dye has been used in India since ancient times. The dye is made from soaking the wood in hot water until it reaches a sort of syrupy consistency. That syrup is then cooled and pressed. After it is dried, the material is ground up until it turns into a powder that can be used for the dyeing process

Cutch wood dyes a variety of colors in the burnt orange/terracotta/salmon family. It’s what makes the color khaki, or khak—an Indian word for dust, earth, and ashes. In history, this color has been used to dye military uniforms because of how well it blends in with the earth around it. 

Cutch is so important to Indian tradition that the largest district in India, the Kutch District, is named after it.

cutch dyed pieces

Why we love it

Because of its rich history, cutch dye is special for many reasons. One of the reasons why we love cutch dye so much is that it mimics the beauty of our natural world. The rich browns, beautiful burnt oranges, and soft salmons are very flattering on most people and go well with pretty much any type of style.

We also love how perfectly imperfect it is, just like nature! Due to the natural dye process using wood from ancient cutch trees, beauty lies in the imperfections. 

Since these products are locally dyed individually by hand, most pieces have imperfections from the dye such as: splotches, tie-dye-like appearance, color inconsistencies, stiffness, etc. 

  

Shop the full cutch-dye collection

April 06, 2021 — Taylor Shuck

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