title. Natural Colours 

date. March - October 2016

city. Ho Chi Minh

My childhood interest in natural colours intensified as I started researching into Vietnam's ancient art of woodblock printing in order to make a DIY woodblock printmaking kit. I wanted to know how artisans came up with five signature colours: brownish red, green, yellow, white and black, using only naturally obtained materials. Apart from investigating traditional sources of natural dyes used by printmaking artisans in Dong Ho village, I also experimented with edible and medicinal plants, hoping to identify new pigments that could be incorporated into my kit.

The process of extracting colours from those plants include boiling, straining and spray-drying. I found lá cẩm (Peristrophe roxburghiana), a plant traditionally used only for colouring rice, to be an abundant and stable source of violet pigment.  

A light-green, light-sensitive pigment derived from rau ngót, a common green leafy plant used for making soup.

A yellow pigment derived from 

seeds of gardenia jasminoides flowers, sometimes used to make sticky rice yellow.

A violet pigment derived from lá cẩm, a leafy plant traditionally used to colour rice purple.

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