At Oboyi we started researching extensively the coloring of leather with food, spices and other natural stuff. Our plan to go fully sustainable was not at all that easy to carry out. Experimenting takes a lot of time and we had many failed experiments. Days were passing by and sometimes we were pleased with the final result, but there were days when we wished we had not taken this big challange.

Sourcing locally

One of the first ideas on going fully sustainable was using the natural ingredients that suround us. We wanted to completely free ourselves of plastic bottled dyes with harmfull ingredients and start coloring with food, spices and other natural stuff.

It’s hard to imagine how our ancestors managed to color without synthetic dyes. As far back as 2600 BC, dyes were made with water, oil, and natural pigments derived from local resources, including exotic plants, insects, and sea life. Some fabric dyes were made from shells of crushed mollusks, were literally worth their weight in gold.

Pick a color

Beetroot was one of our first vegetable choices, as it has a strong pinkish pigment and you can make great healthy meals with it. The color is obtained with a cold press, extracting only the juice of the vegetable. The pulp of the vegetable is used for creating delicious meals, frozen to be used afterwards or used as a compost. Once extracted, the juice is manually applied on the vegetable-tanned leather in several layers to obtain the desired shade. Usually the color is used within several days, as without any preservatives it tends to oxidase and change color.

Experimentation is always the key. The yellow is obtained with turmeric, one of the strongest yellow pigments. A small ammount of it is neccessary in order to develop a beautiful deep shade. Once the color is fixed and dried on the leather surface, it does not leave any trace on your skin, orma clothes. Read more about the whole process in one of our next posts.