THE LOOMA DYEING PROCESS – VIBRANT DESIGNER LAMPSHADES HAND-MADE FROM NATURE
Looma is a unique project that springs from a connection to the land. The creative process starts long before we start to weave our hand-crafted lamps. It begins outside, gathering the leaves, roots or skins of various plants and vegetables and cooking them to extract the colour.
Yes, it’s a long process, but we want to remain true to our ethos of working with nature and avoiding the use of chemicals. We believe that the world needs to return to a simpler, more natural way of doing things, and this is our contribution.
Equally important, we feel that natural colours are so much more exciting than synthetic colours – they have a vibrance and personality that only nature can create. In colour terms, they sing!
The Looma workshop is based in the heart of the unspoilt Silves countryside, and it is here that every lamp begins its life. It is this connection with the Portuguese landscape that is at the heart of our lamps.
ONCE UPON A TIME…
How did the idea to develop our own colours start? It started with a book: ‘A Dyer’s Manual’ by Jill Goodwin. Now sadly our of print, this is the dyer’s bible. It was written in 1982 and it opened up a whole new world for us. We started tentatively some time ago, and soon became hooked to the excitement and unpredictability of working with natural colours. Nothing quite compares to the joy of extracting a beautiful and vibrant colour and fixing it to wool, and each dyeing session brings unexpected results.
We now have a specific area in the garden for growing plants for dyes that includes woad, indigofera tinctoria and dyer’s chamomile. Other plants in the garden that we use are bay tree (particularly the thin branches make the most beautiful golden yellows/browns), carob beans (for darkening colours or browns) and basil (delicate greens). We also use rubia tinctorum (madder root) for bright orangey reds, onion skins for yellows and turmeric root for bright mustards.
THE JOY OF UNPREDICTABILITY
The surprise element when using natural dyeing techniques is part of the process. Batches are always different, and we never quite know what we are going to get. Again, this makes each lamp even more special – we may never replicate that exact colour. In today’s world of mass production and consumerism, this is wonderfully refreshing. Looma is the very antithesis of faceless mass production, and the celebration of natural beauty and individuality.
EVER EVOLVING COLOUR
Natural dyes evolve – we sometimes see a slight variation of colour over time in our lamps. But in our view, this only makes the product more special. It is a beautiful ageing process that makes the lamps even more unique.