This is how your favourite colours are actually made

NOV 24, 2017 | By Mrudul Pathak Kundu
L-R: The vats where indigo cakes are ground to powder
Photograph by Mrudul Pathak Kundu; Inside KMA factory; KMA artisans making the colour; Cakes formed during the colour making process.

Ever wondered how your favorite colour came to be? We discovered how ours, indigo, is created in quaint Puducherry, as we followed Asian Paints on a heart-warming journey. Colour Journey, an initiative by Asian Paints explores India through its native hues, recording how they are interwoven into our handicrafts, architecture, lifestyle and attire. ELLE DECOR was proud to be a part of the journey of one such tone – indigo, which just happens to be one of my favourites.

We started from a small town called Tindivanam near Puducherry in Tamil Nadu, where we interacted with M. Anbalagan and his son Balachander, who run KMA Exports, a leading supplier of natural indigo in India. At KMA, the hue is extracted from Indigofera Tinctoria leaves, which goes through an intensive process – including when the water in which the leaves are soaked in is “kicked intensely” till it turns blue – to form cakes.
These are then supplied to Colour of Nature, a dyeing company in Auroville run by Jesus Ciriza Larraona, a dyer from Spain, for the past 23 years. His team grinds the cakes, and then transfers the mixture into underground vats. Since they use only biodegradable soap and have a water treatment system, every drop can be re-used for their gardens.
“We have utilized the same water in our vats since 1993 – not a single drop is ever wasted,” he says. All their work is a labour of love. “Our master dyers know everything there is to know about the smells, textures and dips that give the best results,” assures Jesus. “The numbers of dips determine the depth of colour.” My love for indigo was further enhanced with respect for everyone involved, from the farmer to the dyers.
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