We spent a wonderful day visiting a textile cooperative and learning how they produce their natural dyes. San Juan La Laguna, on Lake Atitlan, specialises in natural dying, a process that artisans have experimented with and perfected over many years. Many of the plants used are local, some even grew in the back garden like the orange flowering sacatincta plant below. The sacatincta produces different colours depending on how long the yarn is boiled in it, starting with blue, then into grey and finally a charcoal colour.
Indigo dye is achieved with the anil plant, which also grows around the lake. It is first dried in the sun, then ground into a fine blue powder (you can see both forms below).
The yellow flower of the chilcba makes a yellow dye and is also used for medicinal purposes. The first batch to be dyed will come out the strongest in colour.
Alamo, the bark of a poplar tree, is used to produce a mustard and a cappuccino colour depending on how long it is boiled for.