Color and Natural Dyeing

Research Articles on Natural Dyes, Dyeing and the Medieval View of Color:

Natural Dyes and Dyeing

Ageing of brazilwood dye in wool - A chromatographic and spectrometric study

Ana Manhita, Vanda Santos, Helena Vargas, António Candeias, Teresa Ferreira, Cristina Barrocas Dias (2013) Ageing of brazilwood dye in wool - A chromatographic and spectrometric study, Journal of Cultural Heritage 14(6), p. 471-479, Elsevier Masson SAS, url, doi:10.1016/j.culher.2012.10.016

Biochemical Studies in Several Dye Yielding Plants

Joylani D Saikhom, Jekendra S Salam, Kumar S Potshangbam, Manabendra D Choudhury, Haripriya D Maibam (2013) Biochemical Studies in Several Dye Yielding Plants, Notulae Scientia Biologicae 5(3), p. 303-308

Development of mild extraction methods for the analysis of natural dyes in textiles of historical interest using LC-diode array detector-MS

X. Zhang, R. A. Laursen (2005) Development of mild extraction methods for the analysis of natural dyes in textiles of historical interest using LC-diode array detector-MS, Analytical Chemistry 77(7), p. 2022-2025, doi:10.1021/ac048380k

Downstream Processing of Natural Products : Carminic Acid Downstream Processing of Natural Products : Carminic Acid

Rosa Beatriz Cabrera (2005) Downstream Processing of Natural Products : Carminic Acid Downstream Processing of Natural Products : Carminic Acid(May), p. xiv + 108 pages, url

Dyes of the Viking Age: a Summary of Recent Work

Penelope Walton (1988) Dyes of the Viking Age: a Summary of Recent Work, Dyes in History and Archaeology 7, p. 14-20

Fibre analysis of Late Iron Age, Early Medieval and modern Finnish wools

Krista Vajanto (2013) Fibre analysis of Late Iron Age, Early Medieval and modern Finnish wools, Fennoscandia Archaeologica 30, p. 81-94

History of Dyes Used in Different Historical Periods of Egypt

Omar Abdel-Kareem (2012) History of Dyes Used in Different Historical Periods of Egypt, Research Journal of Textile and Apparel 16(4), p. 79-92, url, doi:10.1108/RJTA-16-04-2012-B009

Identification of dye on Middle Saxon pottery from Christ Church College

Penelope Walton Rogers (1999) Identification of dye on Middle Saxon pottery from Christ Church College, Canterbury's Archaeology 1996-1997 (21st Annual Report of Canterbury Archaeological Trust), p. 36

Natural Pigments: Carotenoids, Anthocyanins, and Betalains — Characteristics, Biosynthesis, Processing, and Stability

F. Delgado-Vargas, A. R. Jiménez, O. Paredes-López (2000) Natural Pigments: Carotenoids, Anthocyanins, and Betalains — Characteristics, Biosynthesis, Processing, and Stability, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 40(3), p. 173–289

Organic dyes in illuminated manuscripts: A unique cultural and historic record

Maria João Melo, Paula Nabais, Maria Guimarães, Rita Araújo, Rita Castro, Maria Conceição Oliveira, Isabella Whitworth (2016) Organic dyes in illuminated manuscripts: A unique cultural and historic record, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, doi:10.1098/rsta.2016.0050

Reconstructing the Dyeing Industry of Pompeii through Experimental Archaeology: the challenges and rewards of a new approach

Heather Hopkins (2013) Reconstructing the Dyeing Industry of Pompeii through Experimental Archaeology: the challenges and rewards of a new approach, Ancient Textiles, Modern Science, Heather Hopkins (ed.), p. 119-133, Oxford and Oakville: Oxbow Books

The chemical pigments of plants

Joy Alkema, Spencer L. Seager (1982) The chemical pigments of plants, Journal of Chemical Education 59(3), p. 183-186, url, doi:10.1021/ed059p183

The chemistry of plant and animal dyes

Margareta Sequin-Frey (1981) The chemistry of plant and animal dyes, Journal of Chemical Education 58(4), p. 301, url, doi:10.1021/ed058p301


Color: Medieval & Modern Views

A three-dimensional color space from the 13th century

Hannah E. Smithson, Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Giles E. M. Gasper, Mike Huxtable, Tom C. B. McLeish, Cecilia Panti (2012) A three-dimensional color space from the 13th century, Journal of the Optical Society of America A 29(2), p. A346, url, doi:10.1364/JOSAA.29.00A346

Colour Perception, Dyestuffs, and Colour Terms in Twelfth-Century French Literature

Florin Curta (2004) Colour Perception, Dyestuffs, and Colour Terms in Twelfth-Century French Literature, Medium Aevum 73(1), p. 43-65, doi:DOI:10.2307/ 43630698

Colour as a semiotic mode: notes for a grammar of colour

Gunther Kress, Theo van Leewen (2002) Colour as a semiotic mode: notes for a grammar of colour, Visual Communication 1(3), p. 343–368, doi:10.14851/jcsir.2008.0.143.0

Colour, Seeing, and Seeing Colour in Medieval Literature

M. J. Huxtable (2008) Colour, Seeing, and Seeing Colour in Medieval Literature, p. 363, url, doi:10.1080/1331677X.2014.947132

Harmonious colors: from alchemy to science

Giordano B. Beretta, Nathan M. Moroney (2012) Harmonious colors: from alchemy to science, Color Imaging XVII: Displaying, Processing, Hardcopy, and Applications 8292, p. 82920I, url, doi:10.1117/12.915839

Objects of Sense Perception in Late Medieval Erfurtian Nominalism

Pekka Kärkkäinen (2008) Objects of Sense Perception in Late Medieval Erfurtian Nominalism, Theories of Perception in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy(March), Pekka Kärkkäinen, S. Knuuttila (ed.), p. 1-13, Springer

Organic dyes in illuminated manuscripts: A unique cultural and historic record

Maria João Melo, Paula Nabais, Maria Guimarães, Rita Araújo, Rita Castro, Maria Conceição Oliveira, Isabella Whitworth (2016) Organic dyes in illuminated manuscripts: A unique cultural and historic record, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, doi:10.1098/rsta.2016.0050

ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst Greek Color Theory and the Four Elements [full text, not including figures]

Greek Color, J L Benson (2000) ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst Greek Color Theory and the Four Elements [full text, not including figures], url

The Colors of the Rainbow in Snorri’s Edda

Kirsten Wolf (2007) The Colors of the Rainbow in Snorri’s Edda, Maal og Minne 1, p. 51-62

Unconstrained web-based color naming experiment

Nathan Moroney (2003) Unconstrained web-based color naming experiment, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series 5008, p. 36-46, url, doi:10.1117/12.472013

Weaving the Rainbow: Visions of Color in World History

Robert Finlay (2007) Weaving the Rainbow: Visions of Color in World History, Journal of World History 18(4), p. 383-431, url, doi:10.1353/jwh.2008.0001

‘í litklæðum’ – Coloured Clothes in Medieval Scandinavian Literature and Archaeology

Thor Ewing (2006) ‘í litklæðum’ – Coloured Clothes in Medieval Scandinavian Literature and Archaeology, p. 1-8


Plan for a Two-Day Natural Dyeing Workshop

Day One

History of Natural Dyeing

Safety

Before we do anything else, let’s go over some basic, common-sense safety rules.

Always follow the instructions on the packaging of any dyestuffs or supplies you may buy. Keep the original packaging to preserve those instructions, if you can.

Always work in a place with plenty of good ventilation. Working outside is best, though working in the kitchen is acceptable if you take precautions to use only non-toxic substantive dyes that will not introduce harmful vapors or micro-particles into your cooking area.

Wear a good dust mask when measuring or using any fine particulate materials. Even those materials that are non-toxic can prove to be an irritant, if inhaled.

On the same theme, make sure you are wearing adequate eye protection, as well. Dust in the eye can be as troublesome as dust up a nostril, and fumes in the eye are equally nasty. Be wary of chemical interactions that may be exothermic, particularly when using mordants.

Always wear rubber gloves of some sort. Not only does it protect your skin from chemical irritants, but it saves you embarrassing explanations at work the next day. (“How *did* you get your hands so purple?”)

You may also want to wear some sort of clothing protection, as well — an apron, or at least a t-shirt and pants that will not be hurt by the unintentional addition of more colors.

Make sure you have separate equipment for dyeing — don’t use pots or utensils that you might use for cooking. You are playing with potentially toxic chemicals, particularly in the mordants. You do not want to mix the two, ever. And along that same line, store all supplies and equipment safely out of the reach of children and pets. Curious young hands and noses (both human and non-human) are always a risk you need to guard against.

Clean up spills promptly, before you (or someone else) brush it and spread it further.

Don’t breathe the steam or fumes from the pots — use lids, if possible. If the pots are going to be left for several hours, you may want to secure the lids to prevent accidental exposure to others.

Add chemicals to water — a basic rule in any chemistry laboratory. You won’t always know when a chemical will react dramatically with the addition of water. Better to add it slowly to the water, than to add the water to it and have it all erupt in your face, potentially blowing the dust up into your nostrils and eyes. And last, but certainly not least, don’t eat, drink or smoke in the dyeing area.

It’s far too easy to mix up containers with colored liquid, and you really don’t want to know what that dye tastes like, do you?

Equipment to accumulate, as you start dyeing;

You will need a heat source, as many projects will require the mordant or the dyebath (or both) to simmer or boil for extended periods.

As stated above, you will need pots specifically for dyeing. Try to get either stainless steel or enameled pots, preferably an enamel surface that won’t chip and dent the first time it gets banged against a table edge wrong. Aluminum pots are really only useful for washing and for mordanting where you know you want the aluminum, and even then you can’t control the amount being leached from the pot. Be sure to get pots that will be large enough for the amount of material you will be dyeing at any one time — the dyebath must be able to flow freely around the fleece or threads being dyed, if they are going to dye evenly.

You will need stirring and lifting rods, to move the material through the dyebath and to get it all out easily. Paint stirrers at the hardware store make an easy substitute, and are often free.

You will need a thermometer, in order to gauge the temperature of the dyebath. Many dyes need to be kept in a certain temperature range, for best color. Silk is especially sensitive to higher temperatures, and will be damaged and lose its luster if the temperature exceeds 180 deg.

You will need a set of kitchen (or other small) scales, preferable accurate to 1 gram, for measuring out mordant and dye amounts.

You will need strainers to remove dye materials from the dyebath, before you add in the material to be dyed. As an alternative, you can put the dye material in a small bag of cheesecloth.

You will want to have storage jars and funnels for your dyebaths and mordant baths, so that you can save them for later sessions when you might be able to exhaust them.

Preparing fibers for dyeing

The first step in preparing any fiber for dyeing is to thoroughly clean, or “scour”, it. Every natural fiber has some sort of “glue” or oil on it, which has to be cleaned off before it can be mordanted and dyed.

Dyes, Protein fibers and Cellulose fibers

There are two basic types of fiber that are normally dyed with natural dyes, protein fibers and cellulose fibers. Protein fibers are those that are produced, in some manner, by an animal. Wool and silk are the most common examples.

Protein fibers are those that are produced, in some manner, by an animal. Wool and silk are the most common examples.Wool is the most common fiber used by amateur dyers for natural dyeing. It is fairly easy to obtain, and the procedures to dye it are also fairly simple. Scouring wool involves removing the lanolin, the sheep’s natural oil that permeates the fleece.

Silk

Cellulose fibers are derived from plants — cotton and flax/linen being the most common examples of them.

Mordants and their disposal

Alum (Potassium Aluminum Sulfate) Tannin/Tannic acid
Cream of Tartar
Copperas (Ferrous Sulfate)

Blue Vitriol (Copper Sulfate)

Tin (Stannous Chloride)

 Day Two

Recap of Day One (esp. Safety)

Dyestuffs

Onion Skins: yellow and orange shades
Alkanet Root: soft grays — pinkish in acidic; bluish to greenish in alkaline conditions
Logwood: pinks, blues, maroons and purples
Osage Orange sawdust: yellow shades
Cochineal: bright reds, pinks, purples maroons, corals and fuchsias Madder Root sawdust: orange-reds, oranges, browns and brownish reds
Brazilwood sawdust: bright crimson reds, deep purples, pinks and corals

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