Waiting for the perfect storm
Posted on October 31 2018
Bozcaada or by the mythological name Tenedos is a small island by the Aegean Sea. It is the island of Greek hero Tenes who ruled the island during the Trojan War and was killed by Achilles. It is the place where Greeks hid their ships behind after leaving the enormous wooden horse on the beach as a gift to Athena. It is the place where you can watch the rosy-fingered dawn of Homer upon Troy.
Long gone the heroes and wars, now Bozcaada is the island of strong northern winds and storms. The name “boz” refers to the island’s flora meaning barren land. It is for sure that the island looks like barren for outsiders with its grey to brown coloured vegetation as it’s not easy to bare the wind of the island. But don’t let it fool you, the land is covered with olive trees, wheat fields and vineyards.
Witnessing the life cycle of nature in the spacious fields of Bozcaada struck the founder of Darwin’s Botanicals and natural dyer Tuğay Güven and she started thinking about the concept of waste. Why we had so much waste while nature is an expert on not wasting? She tried to a find way to recycle or better yet upcycle at least the organic wastes we create every day and since then she is working on the ancient wisdom of natural dyeing.
When a strong storm hits the island, it surely interrupts the islands’ only way of transportation, ferries, leaving the islanders completely isolated from the world. These magical moments when this piece of land loses all its contact with the outer world is what Tuğay looks forward to. Apart from the deeper connection she feels with the “utopian” Bozcaada of hers, these storms are particularly treasured by a natural dyer. Because of the pH level and elements & minerals the rainwater consists, it shifts the colours to brighter and deeper tones compared to tap water. Moreover, although natural dyeing is an eco-friendly way of textile dyeing, plenty of water is used during the process so using rainwater helps saving natural resources of our world.
Tuğay has always been in love with and fascinated by the storms of the island since she was just a kid so every year she visits her second home Bozcaada at the end of September when Turkish sailors expect what they call “crane immigration storm”. It is like an official announcement of the summer’s end, and it never misses the island… This year she is home again waiting for the perfect storm, her boilers positioned where the rain falls most heavily in the garden to collect the rainwater.
The storm lasts for 2 days, on the 2nd of October Island starts to brighten up again. That’s when Tuğay gets back on track. She starts extracting the colours of the leaves, barks, roots, seeds, flowers and fruits of plants she collected using the rainwater. Extracting colours is a slow process and requires nothing but patience. While heat and rainwater are taking their own time to do what they need to do, Tuğay starts ironing and sewing what she already dyed.
When the colours are extracted, it’s time for adding the fabrics to the dye pot. Scouring and mordanting steps are way past, a week before dying. As she doesn’t use any additive chemical substances to quicken the process she has to wait for more. Depending on the colour she wants to achieve she sometimes dyes the same piece of fabric 10 times or more. She waits and waits. Tuğay is never annoyed by waiting for long periods of time because her main source of inspiration is the mother nature itself and like Lao Tzu said, “Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished.” Bozcaada is the place where she creates with serenity, without a rush with the help of perfect storms.
Special thanks to Tuğay Güven for photos and her participation in this post.