Welcome to Earthues
“Earthues” began in 1997 as a trademark for clothing naturally dyed commercially by Caracol Inc. and its US dye house customers. Caracol was co-founded by Michele Wipplinger in 1994 to develop natural dye processes for the commercial US dye industry.
One of the first realizations was the need for natural dye extracts; commercial dye houses could not efficiently use natural dye raw materials. Michele searched and discovered some extracts in India (cutch, pomegranate, wattle, myrobalan and indigo) that supported their cottage textile businesses; carmine extract (red extract from cochineal used by the food and cosmetic industries); and natural tannin extracts (chestnut, fustic, logwood purple and gray, tannic acid and quebracho yellow, brown, red, green & black) that were being manufactured for the much larger leather tanning industry. Serendipitously in the late 1990’s, new extract companies in France, Germany and India were developing a wide range of natural dye extracts, including lac, madder and weld. Michele was able to partner with a small sawmill in Texas to produce an osage orange extract, a perfect yellow for protein fibers.
The largest collaborative success was with Spectrum Dyed Yarns (NYC / South Carolina) who developed a process to cone dye with natural extracts using potassium aluminum sulfate (protein yarn) and aluminum acetate (cellulose yarn) as mordants. This culminated with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Fashion Industry and the Environment Award for 1995. Unfortunately, Caracol dissolved in 1997 along with with the complete collapse of the US commercial dye industry due to economic pressures of much lower wages in countries outside the US.
Michele Wipplinger then launched Earthues in 1997 as a platform to instruct and consult on natural dyes in the US and worldwide. Earthues also began selling natural dye extracts to its students, entrepreneurial natural dye clothing companies and retailers offering natural dye extracts to textile artists.
Michele continued teaching, consulting and developing techniques to apply natural dyes to textiles until she could no longer work due to dementia. Her husband and behind-the-scenes partner in all her endeavors, Andro Wipplinger, stepped in and has continued to operate Earthues as a premier source for natural dyes and information. Michele passed away in February 2020.
Earthues is a fair-trade, woman-owned business, working in partnership with artisans to fulfill their dreams and ours. Our path is to travel the world, teaching and learning about natural dyes and sustainable, eco-methods for creating beautiful colors. We provide expertise in color, textile design and artisan craft development for the global marketplace, sell natural dyes, and assist visionary companies in developing environmentally sound methods for creating and coloring textiles.
Earthues is a pioneer in natural dyes and are proud to participate in the new movement to build a greener economy through sustainable methods. All of our colorants are derived from plants or other natural materials and many of our dyes have received organic and/or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification. Our colors are appropriate for home, artisan and industrial processes and our natural dyes can be used for textiles, paper, buttons, and other natural fibers and to make natural inks and paints for textile printing.