This undated photo provided by Sasha Duerr shows a color palette Duerr has dubbed “compost colors,” dyed using onion skins and avocado pits, from left, yellow onion skin and alum salts, yellow onion skin with no mordant, avocado pits and soda ash, avocado pits with no mordant, and avocado pits and iron added. These colors were made with alum, iron and soda ash, with hues and shades that vary depending on mordants and modifiers that are used. Photo by Sasha Duerr.
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Transforming weeds, kitchen scraps and other natural elements into a rainbow of textile dyes is a concept as old as civilization itself, with dye vats dating to as early as 2000 BC. Now, these homemade pigments - some long abandoned in favor of more startling chemical dyes - are being rediscovered in kitchens and studios around the world.