Cutch – (Acacia catechu) is the rich reddish brown color seen in Indian textiles. It is both a dyestuff and tanning agent. It has been used in India since ancient times. To make cutch extract, they first soak cutch wood in hot water until the liquid becomes syrupy. Then they cool, press and cut the thickened liquid into cubes and dried. After that, they grind it into powder for dyeing. Cutch extract is sweet smelling in the dye bath and yields rich red browns with long cooking times. Cutch with an alum mordant will be golden yellow brown and requires a two hour simmer to develop its deepest shades; the addition of 10% drugstore grade hydrogen peroxide or 2% dissolved soda ash in the dyebath will dramatically deepen and redden the color. Cutch combined with iron will yield a lovely Chocolate Brown. We will often soak our cutch over night to aid in hydration, then dye with it the next day.
- 100g of Cutch extract will dye approximately 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of fiber to a dark shade
From our Feedback Friday series:
I’m dyeing wool gauze with cutch and I usually use chalk (calcium carbonate) as an after bath post-mordant when I’m working w/ cellulose fibers. Is it a necessary w/protein fibers to get a dark, rich hue?
Cutch on wool with an alum mordant tends to shift yellow/gold/buff. If you are looking for a “chocolate” brown, it’s achievable by using an alum mordant, 20% cutch and a small percentage of iron in a post bath (like 1% or less). If you’re looking for an espresso brown, then cutch + walnut (and possibly iron) will create that color.
It is also possible to oxidize cutch by mixing it and letting it sit overnight or longer, which creates a deeper shade on any fiber or mordant variable. We also add soda ash, which changes the cutch to a deep russet. We’ve also rinsed cellulose fibers with a little soda ash after dyeing with cutch, which also moves the yellow shade to a cognac brown.