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Understanding Dyes

April 28, 2010 2 min read

Handmade Rugs 101 Series Understanding Dyes

Both natural and synthetic dyes can be used in the creation of a handmade rug. Here’s a brief breakdown:


Natural dyes have been used for centuries to create beautiful and striking colors. Historically, they've come from plant sources, and they typically still do today. For example, reds are often created from dried madder root, blues of indigo extracted from a variety of plants, and yellows from the Mediterranean herb weld. Secondary colors then come from mixing these primary colors. Shades of brown can also be created naturally, from items like walnut husks. The natural dyeing process can be a complicated one. As a result, pieces that are naturally dyed can be more expensive than those created with synthetic dyes and are usually highly desirable. While the unique colors created by natural dyes can be closely imitated with synthetic ones, colors from natural dyes do vary slightly, giving you a one-of-a-kind piece that can never be exactly duplicated!


If you don’t want to stretch your budget too thin, rugs colored with synthetic dyes are great options, as it’s nearly impossible for the naked eye to tell the difference between a synthetically dyed and naturally dyed rug. While prices vary, a synthetically dyed rug usually costs about 30% less than one that’s naturally dyed. Synthetic dyes are also bold and bright, and they allow a manufacturer to create rugs with consistent coloring.

A Mixture

Because certain natural dyes are not readily available in all areas, rugs are often dyed using a mixture of natural and synthetic colorants. Rug makers use what materials are available to them that will give the best color payoff for you to enjoy! This post is part of our “Handmade Rugs 101” series. To see all posts in the series, CLICK HERE.

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