Books on Textile History and Culture

This is my final post on reviewing the books in my craft library and it covers the history of textiles; the regional variations throughout the world; and a few specialist books on particular areas (South-East and Central Asia); the spiritual aspects of textiles; and special time periods (Arts and Crafts Textiles). Firstly, two excellent general books on textile history!

Women’s Work: The First 20, 000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber 1994

A fascinating book, looking at the history of textiles and the important role of women in its production from the Upper Paleolithic world (40 000 BC to 10 000BC, 5000 BC in some places) through the Neolithic Era; and the Bronze, Copper and Iron Ages to Ancient Egypt and Greece up to 500 BC.

While most textiles are highly perishable, knowledge has been gained from :

Archaeological discoveries:

eg Fossilized string found in Lascaux, France dated to 15 000 BC; and a needle netted linen bag with a stone button from Israel dated 6500 BC, thought to be a ceremonial hat and the world’s oldest preserved clothing;

eg Golden and silver spindles found in Early Bronze Age burial sites  at Alaca Höyük, Central Turkey);

Depictions on ancient artefacts, paintings and pottery:

eg Voluptuous stone Venus figurines wearing string skirts 20 000 years old;  Assyrian clay tablets from 2000 BC in Mesopotamia, recording accounts and letters of entrepreneurial women with their own weaving businesses; Tomb friezes from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt ( 2150 -1800 BC) showing men spinning cord and laundering and women spinning thread and weaving; and the depiction of women weaving together on a warp-weighted loom on a Greek vase from 560 BC, depicted on the book cover);

References in mythology, folk tales and literature:

eg Homer’s Iliad, which describes Hera’s girdle, fashioned with a hundred tassels, and Aphrodite’s special girdle);

Ethnological evidence from traditionally produced textiles and folk costumes:

eg  Mordvin, Walachin, Macedonian and Albanian peasant aprons and skirts; and

 Documented history.

It examines the Neolithic string revolution (snares, nets and cloth); the development of spinning and weaving; the creation of clothing without cutting and wasting precious cloth (togas, chitons, tunics, plaid skirts); the use of textiles as royal gift exchanges; technological developments like the loom; the changing roles of women through history; and everyday life in ancient societies.BlogTextile History40%IMG_0048

5000 Years of Textiles Edited by Jennifer Harris 1993/ 2004

Far less ambitious in scope, covering only 5000 years as opposed to 20 000 years of textile history, this comprehensive book was written by 24 experts in their specialist textile fields and produced by the British Museum Press, in association with the Whitworth Gallery and The Victoria and Albert Museum, showcasing many historical textile items (from the ancient world through to the modern day) in their respective collections.

The introduction discusses the perishability of textiles; early archaeological textile finds from Ancient Egyptian burial tombs (Pharaonic plain linen; Romano-Egyptian decorated wool and linen up to 12 AD; and imported Persian and Syrian silks); felts from the frozen tombs of Central Asian nomadic chieftains; and the clothing of Scandinavian bog bodies; ancient trading routes and their influence on textile design; and the role and function of textiles in society (social rank and status; gender; family lineage and clan identity; symbolism; diplomacy and royal patronage; major life events-births, weddings and funerals; and social, economic and religious functions).

The book is divided into sections:

Survey of the main textile techniques: Weaving; Tapestry; Rug Weaving; Embroidery; Lace making; Dyeing and Printing; Knitting; Netting, Knitting and Crochet; and Felt and Bark Cloth.

Each section describes the history of the technique, the main tools and technological advances, and basic components and techniques and are illustrated by photographs of many historical textiles; production tools and artisans in action; depictions on ancient vases and in ancient manuscripts and paintings; and explanatory diagrams.

Survey of World Textiles:

Ancient World of the Eastern Mediterranean: Fibres and dyes; the earliest textiles and early trade; Ancient Egypt, the Hellenistic Kingdoms of Classical Greece; the Ancient Roman period and Coptic textiles;

Central and Northern Europe: the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age, and the Vikings;

Western Europe: Sicilian and Italian silks (1300 to 1900); Spanish silks (712 AD to early 18th century); French silks (1650 to 1800); Figured linen damasks of the Netherlands (16th to 18th centuries); Tapestry, embroidery, lace and printed textiles;

Central and Eastern Europe (1800-1920);

Greece, the Greek Islands and Albania;

Near and Middle East: Sassanian textiles (Persia); Early Islamic textiles; Byzantine silks; Safavid Iran; the Ottoman Empire; and Palestinian embroidery;

Central Asia : Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan; Tadzhikistan; Kirghizia; Kazakhstan; North-Eastern Iran and Northern Afghanistan;

India and Pakistan and the tribal textiles of Central India;

Carpets of the Middle and Far East;

Far East: China, Japan and South East Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, the Hill tribes, the Philippines, and Indonesia and Malaysia);

The Americas: Colonial North America (1700s to 1990s); Native North America; Latin America (Pre-Hispanic textiles of Meso-America and South America; Post-conquest and contemporary textiles in Central and South America: Mexico, Guatemala; the Cuna Indians of Panama and South America;

Africa:

North Africa: gold and silk embroidery, wool embroidery, appliqué and weaving; and

Sub-Saharan Africa and offshore islands: West Africa, the equatorial forest, Eastern Africa and Madagascar.

There is a glossary of textile terms and an extensive bibliography at the back of the book for further reading. This is indeed a wonderful summary of world textiles and the only area, which was not covered in great detail was Oceania, although there was brief mention of tapa cloth, made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree in the ‘Felt and Bark Cloth’ chapter of the first section.

Extensively researched, it is quite a scholarly and academic book, whereas the next few books are more a pictorial feast!BlogTextile History40%IMG_0049Textiles: A World Tour: Discovering Traditional Fabrics and Patterns by Catherine Legrand 2008/2012

Illustrated with over 700 wonderful colour photographs of ethnic costumes, sumptuous fabric and tribal people from all over the world, this beautiful book is divided into six main areas:

Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, South-East Asia: Hmong tunics and the skirt of 1000 pleats; indigo blues and batik; embroidery and appliqué; tassels and pompoms; trimmings and ornaments; and baskets and bags;

Orissa, Rajastan and Gujarat, India: Cotton saris; block printing; mud and indigo; mirrorwork embroidery; saris, veils and turbans; jewellery and henna;

Mexico and Guatemala, Central America: Indigo; Mayan skirts; Jaspe; shawls, bundles and bags, wool; Huipil flowers and stripes; green Ixil women; traditional mens’ clothing and Lake Atitlán;

Kuna Archipelago, Panama, Central America: Mola and reverse appliqué;

Maramures and Bukovina, Romania: Peasant blouses; haymaking, spinning and felting; and seasonal activities; and

Benin, West Africa: Indigo and cotton; stars, spots and stripes; wax prints and fancy prints.

This is a fabulous book, not just for textile collectors and historians, but also for travellers, who are interested in remote locations off the beaten track and serves as a wonderful source of inspiration for textile and fashion designers. It is also a wonderful photographic record of cultural differences and practices in a rapidly shrinking and increasingly global world.

I adored the skirt of a thousand pleats, worn by the Flowered Hmong- in fact, it was one of the lusted after-purchases I was talked out of on my first trip to Europe in early married life, which I have always regretted, but which taught me a valuable lesson in sticking to my guns if I really wanted something!!!

I also loved the colourful harlequin appliqué of the Lolo, Vietnam; the Hmong reverse appliqué spiral patterns;  huipil floral embroidery;  the reverse appliqué ‘mola’ of the Kuna women in Panama; and the frilled Romanian peasant blouses and smocks, as well as their wonderful floral embroidery.

All the different styles of ethnic clothing are just so interesting, especially the symbolism behind them and I loved reading about all the processes involved with the production of traditional textiles from harvesting, weaving and garment assembly to dyeing (batik, indigo, block printing, silkscreen, tie-dyeing), embroidery and appliqué.

I learnt about breeding silkworms for silk production, Ikat weaving; the different techniques throughout the world for dyeing with indigo; the huge variation in the symbolic meanings of textiles and a huge number of different ethnic groups, which were new to me like the Ixil women of the Acul region of Guatemala, near Nebaj.

I would love to have written this book and visited all the wonderful locations and peoples! I cannot recommend this gorgeous book highly enough!BlogTextile History40%IMG_0050Another wonderful guide to world textiles is the not surprisingly and very appropriately-titled:

World Textiles: A Visual Guide to Traditional Techniques by John Gillow and Bryan Sentence 1999

It has a different format and approach to the previous book, focusing more on the different types of textiles and techniques rather than their geographical area, making it an excellent companion, which adds to our knowledge of textile history and production.  The display of fabrics from many different areas side by side serves as a basis for comparison and furthering a greater understanding of the techniques involved and an increased awareness of the diversity in stylistic interpretations. Like the previous book, it is also lavishly illustrated with over 778 illustrations, 551 in colour and explanatory diagrams.

The introduction defines textiles and discusses their history, the first fabrics, textile decoration, spinning yarn and traditional textiles.

Chapters include:

Materials: Skin and hide; wool and hair; felt; woollen yarn; cotton; silk; bark; linen; other bast fibres like hibiscus, jute, nettle, ramie, milkweed and hemp; raphia and other leaf fibres like palms, yuccas, agave, rice straw and grass, as well as their function, purpose and use and their production and techniques.

Non-Loom Textiles: Netting, linking and looping; knitting and crochet, including textured and multi-coloured knitting; braids; sprang; macramé; ply-splitting; lace (bobbin and needle lace and tatting); and twining and wrapping;

Loom-Woven Textiles: Tabby weave; twill and tartan; satin weave; tapestry weave; warp-faced and weft-faced weave; damask; supplementary warps and wefts (continuous and discontinuous); brocade; strip weave; double weave; velvet, velveteen, corduroy and other pile cloths; and tablet weaving. I found this chapter particularly interesting and informative, as I have always been a bit mystified by all the different types of woven techniques and did not know much about damask, brocade or velvet production;

Painted and Printed Textiles: Daubed textiles (mud, earth pigments and leaf paints); painted textiles; penwork; woodblock printing (monochrome and polychrome); and stencilling;

Dyes: Substansive and adjective dyes; natural and synthetic aniline dyes; indigo; tie-dye; stitched resist; Rajasthani leheria and mothara; starch-resist (hand and stencilled); wax resist (Chinese knife; Javanese batik canting; and cap printing); mordant techniques (Central Asian woodblock printing; Kalamkari; and Ajrakh); warp and weft Ikat; and compound and double Ikat;

Sewing: Appliqué and reverse appliqué; molas; leather and felt appliqué; braid and ribbon work; patchwork; quilting; padded and stuffed work (stumpwork; Native American whimsies and kalagas from Myanmar);

Embroidery: All the different stitches and their techniques, uses, distribution and variations and styles: Running stitch; satin and surface satin stitches; chain stitch and variations; cross stitch; herringbone stitch; couching and Bokhara couching; blanket, buttonhole and eyelet stitch, French and Pekin knots; drawn-thread and pulled-thread work; needle weaving; whitework; needlepoint; smocking; and tambour work; and finally,

Embellishment and its role and use in social identity; magic and superstition and even just for ornamentation and vanity: Metal thread; mirrors; coins and sequins; shells; bead embroidery and bead weaving; feathers; porcupine quills; ephemera (natural objects including flowers, seeds and insect wings; and magical protection); and fringes and tassels.

There is just so much information in this book and the authors have done a stirling job organising it and making it all comprehensible.

In the back is a glossary of textile terms; lists of further reading on materials; techniques; history and world textiles; and a list of museums and collections, a wonderful source of further knowledge and inspiration! Another book I could not do without!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0051Another interesting book in my craft library, with more personal stories of craftswomen in developing countries is:

In Her Hands: Craftswomen Changing The World by Paola Gianturco and Toby Tuttle 2000

Written in their individual voices and featuring 90 indigenous craftswomen in 28 villages in 12 different countries over four continents, this book examines their daily lives, aspirations, families and communities, craft cooperatives and use of craft to create better futures for themselves and future generations. Along the way, we learn more about their cultures and their different craft and textile traditions and techniques. The text is supported by wonderful photos of the craftswomen and their families;  their villages and environment; and their work and crafts.

Chapters are divided into:

Latin America: Bolivia (knitting); Guatemala (weaving); Peru (pottery and arpillera); and Panama molas;

Eastern Europe: Poland (Flower painting); and Czech Republic (Easter egg painting);

Africa: South Africa (Ndebele beadwork and Zulu basket weaving); and Zimbabwe (Weya artists); and

Asia: Turkey (dollmaking and rug weaving); Indonesia (Floral offerings and batik); Thailand (Hill tribe craftswomen and AIDS project); and India (mirror embroidery).

In the back are suggestions for ways in which the reader can help support and enhance the craftswomen’s efforts to improve their lives.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0047

Next are a few books on the textiles of specific regions, including Central and South-East Asia, both notable for their beautiful textiles.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0044

I have already featured Bright Flowers: Textiles and Ceramics of Central Asia by Christina Sumner and Guy Petherbridge 2004 in my post on traditional embroidery (https://candeloblooms.com/2018/08/21/books-on-hand-embroidery-part-three-traditional-and-contemporary-embroidery/), but another excellent book on the same region is:

Traditional Textiles of Central Asia by Janet Harvey 1996

I have always been fascinated by the history and romance of the Silk Road and the interchange of goods, ideas, peoples and religions between the east and the west along its varying routes and times.

Central Asia covers a large proportion of this area from the Danube River to the Pacific shores, bordered on the north by the forested taiga and to the south by the high plateaux running from the Balkans to Tibet and the Chinese plains. From the first millennium BC to the 4th century AD, luxury goods like spices, gems and silks were transported from the Far East to the  west and were exchanged for fine muslins, woollens and glass from India and Europe to China.

Beautifully coloured silks, fragments of rich tapestry work, embroidery, pile carpets and coarse fabrics in felts and wools over 2000 years old were found in ancient burial sites in the Tarim Basin by Sir Aurel Stein in the early 20th century.

I adore the colourful Kyrgyz shyrdaks (patchwork appliqué felt floor rug) used by Central Asian nomads to furnish their yurts, in fact they formed the basis of my first year major project in my Diploma of Textile Art. (https://candeloblooms.com/2018/07/17/fabulous-felting-books/).

The simplicity and compactness of living in a yurt and the light environmental footprint and interest of travel and different home grounds of the nomadic lifestyle also appeal to me. And I love reading about symbolism and myths and the ceremonial and cultural aspects of different peoples, so this book appealed on so many levels!

It is divided into four different sections:

History and Motifs: Nomads and settled peoples; trade routes; Jenghis Khan and his legacy; decorative motifs; foreign influences; and traditional motifs and their significance;

Materials and Dyes: Wool; silk; cotton; and dye sources and dyeing;

Felts, Weavings and Dress: Nomad felts; nomad, village and urban woven fabrics; looms; flat weaves; knotted pile; decorative finishings; knitting and crochet; cotton weaving; Ikat silk weaving; traditional dress; and bags, covers, hangings and animal trappings; and

Applied Decoration: Embroidery; nomad, village and urban traditions; and block printing and fabric painting.

It is a beautiful book with over 200 colour plates of sumptuous silks and velvets; exquisite embroideries; stunning felts and woollen fabrics; and fine cotton weaves produced throughout the area and lots of fascinating information about the historical background; mythology and symbolism; materials and dyeing, block printing and fabric painting; and nomadic furnishings, culture and daily life. I am sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did!

In the back is a glossary; further reading lists on Central Asian history and textiles; motifs used in textile decoration; materials and dyes; yarn construction; felt; and applied decoration; and a list of museums and galleries.

BlogTextile History30%IMG_0045

Textiles of South-East Asia by Angela Thompson 2007

An equally comprehensive and detailed book, but featuring the rich textile traditions of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Spice islands of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, this book examines the differences and similarities between the different areas, as well as the historic and mercantile links, which have forged them together. The author compares the costumes, weaving and techniques of each country and discusses the underlying symbolic meanings of their designs, which are woven or imprinted into the cloth.

Chapters include:

Historical Background: From the indigenous neolithic peoples of mainland South-East Asia and the establishment of early cultures; different languages, migrations, political and military alliances and gift exchanges and tributary systems; and the influence of topography and the great river systems; to a brief summary of each country; and a discussion of the influence of international trade, including spices, cotton and silk; European  colonization and expansion; the aftermath of the Second World War; and modern trends.

Symbolism, Pattern and Design: Importance of symbols in denoting rank/ status and allegiance; rites of passage and religion; the prohibition of royal symbols and pattern; a brief discussion of the different religious beliefs and history; mythology (creation myths, island myths and fertility myths); auspicious motifs, magic talismans and protective amulets; the different motifs and their symbolism; other weaving patterns; and the influence of imported designs from India and China.

Costume: Uncut cloth: Variations due to climate and geographical terrains; different methods of draping cloth; depictions on historic sculptures; skirts and loin cloths; court cultures and influences;  the 19th and 20th century wrapped loincloths; island sarongs; religious dress; and the use of fabric lengths in shawls, ceremonial blankets, turbans and head-cloths, bed covers, baby wrappers and carry-cloths, and gift covers, temple hangings and banners.

Costume: Closed Dress: Seamed costume based on fabric widths and shaped dresses defined by cutting and seaming; pleated skirts and long dresses; the influence of migrating tribes from China; the national costumes of the hill tribes and the different areas; the golden triangle;  religious dress and royal costumes; colonial and foreign influences and costume accessories like hats, bags and baby carriers.

Threads and Fibres, Spinning and Dyeing:

Threads and fibres: Their production, source materials, tools and history: Cotton, silk, vegetable and bast fibres: pineapple leaves, agave and bamboo, abaca, ramie, lotus flower threads, kapok, rattan, coconut fibre, and bark cloth; and

Dyes and Dyeing: Natural Dyes made from plants (trees, bark, roots, leaves and flowers) and insects; indigo vat dyes; and synthetic dyes.

Weaving and Loom Types: Basic weaving methods and tools; shuttles and different types of looms; weaving preparation and threading the loom; pattern weaves- types and selection; harnesses and heddles; and tapestry weave methods.

Dye Pattern Methods: Ikat, tie-dye and batik and their regional variations; the use of motifs and patterns in puppets and wall hangings, painted and printed cloths ; and political batik.

Embroidery and Appliqué: Geographical variations and the influence of migrating populations and foreign trade by land and sea; counted and cross-stitch; double running stitch; pattern darning; free stitchery (shaded embroidery; filling stitches; and double-sided and silk embroidery); metal threadwork; quilted and machine work; appliqué and patchwork; reverse appliqué; and the influences of war and persecution.

Beadwork and Bead Embroidery: Bead types and origins: shells, abalone, pearls, seeds, glass, sequins and spangles, silver and gold; application to fabric surfaces; netted beadwork and the incorporation of beads into weaving.

Thread and Fibre Crafts: Plaited and woven braids; tablet weaving; lacework, tatting;  nets and hammocks; and fibre crafts: weaving fibre mats and bedcovers; twining, plaiting and interlacing; bases for lacquer ware; and conical hat making…and

Fringes, Tassels, Pompoms and Feathers: Woven fringes, pompoms and tassels on hats, God’s eyes, tasselled lanterns and feather decorations.

All these books have been fascinating reading and like the others, this one includes a glossary; a bibliography; and lists of craft video films and museums and collections.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0052

And if the two previous books have whetted your appetite for more information about the link between symbolism and textiles, then this next book should be right up your alley!

Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic by Sheila Paine 2004.

This is a lovely book to dive into at whim, rather than trying to absorb all the information at once! With over 400 colour illustrations, this book is a worldwide look at the wide variety of cultural beliefs, the important role of amulets in protection; magic and superstition; rites of passage; war, sex, fertility and harvest; trade and profit; and all the different types, including goddesses and dolls; fossils and semi-precious stones; silver and coins; buttons, beads and blue; red, white and black; teeth, claws and paws; horns and bones;  birds, feathers and hair; snakes and fearful creatures; water and the moon;  salt, garlic, incense and plants; trees, rags and stitches; tangles and triangles; needles, porcupine quills, iron and bells; numbers and letters; hands and crosses; and saints and the church. So much interesting information!!!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0043My final book explores a particular interest area of mine:

Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement by Linda Parry 1988/ 2005

I have always loved and been fascinated by the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880 to 1920) and its emphasis on simplicity, beauty and functionality and the handmade! It looks at the artistic and industrial background to this breakaway style; its ideological tenets and purpose; the evolution of the Arts and Crafts style; textiles in Arts and Crafts exhibitions, as well as their use in the home; and embroiderers and designers, like William Morris and his daughters May and Jenny; Jessie Newberry, Una Taylor and Ann Macbeth; Edward Burne-Jones; CFA Voysey; MH Baillie Scott; Philip Webb; Walter Crane; Selwyn Image; JH Dearle; Lindsay Butterfield and George Haité ; Charles Rennie Mackintosh, George Walton and Jessie M King of the Glasgow School of Art and manufacturers and shops, including Morris and Co.; Turnbull and Stockdale; AH Lee & Sons; Silver Studio; Wardle & Co; Liberty & Co. and many others, all listed in the back of the book. A very comprehensive guide to English textiles (printed and woven fabrics, tapestries and carpets and embroideries and lace) when Britain led the design world!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0042

 

Books on Natural Dyeing: Part Three: Dyeing Down Under

My final two books focus on Antipodean Dyeing and it’s interesting that my two books  cover both ends of the time spectrum, the early days of the revival of natural dyeing post synthetic dyes and contemporary textile dyeing using the latest innovative new techniques and ecological considerations.

Dyes From Plants of Australia and New Zealand: A Practical Guide for Craftworkers by Joyce Lloyd 1971/1978

This old book, almost fifty years old now, was one of the early guides to this artform, a time when the brighter synthetic aniline dyes were all the rage! It was written to complement the revival of interest in spinning and hand weaving during the 1960s. After introductory chapters on the ancient history of natural dyes, equipment, fabric preparation and mordants, the book focuses on :

Dye Plants Native to New Zealand;

Dye Plants Native to Australia;

Flower and Vegetable Garden Subjects;

Miscellaneous Dye Subjects; and

Weeds, Herbs and Lichens.

There is a section on using ancient dyes (indigo/ logwood/ madder/ cochineal and woad), as well as brief notes on chemical dyes, general hints and tie-dye techniques. The tiny size of both the latter subject and the source list for ancient dyes (only one supplier in Australia and one in New Zealand and only mail addresses), as well as the presentation of the book and dearth of colour photos and swatches, is an indicator of the age of this book and the infancy stage of this revival of interest in natural dyes, however this book is still valuable for its emphasis on our own native flora, as well as the inclusion of a number of dyestuffs, not mentioned in the other books. For example: Asters, Begonias, Buddleias, Gazanias, Bearded Iris, Rhododendrons, Beetroot, Mint, Passionfruit, Silver Beet, Tamarillos, Grass, Bamboo, Medlars, Pine Trees, Privet, Yew, Seaweed and Tobacco! Really the world’s your oyster!BlogNatlDyeing30%Image (6)

We have come such a long way since then! The efforts of Jenny Dean and Rita Buchanan have been responsible for a large part of this renewal, while India Flint has really popularized contemporary natural dyeing for a new generation of textile artists with her wonderful inspiring workshops and book:

Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint 2008.

India is an Australian artist, writer, teacher, sheep farmer, fashion (Prophet of Bloom) and theatre costume designer, and sustainable eco-dyer with over thirty years of experience and artworks in collections and museums in Australia, Latvia and Germany. Every contemporary textile artist should own a copy of this comprehensive and detailed book.

Part One embraces the important concepts of Organic Natural Dyes vs. Toxic Synthetic Chemicals, Regionalism, Renewable Resources, Exploitation in the Logwood and Indigo Trades; Sustainable Harvesting and Recycling of Waste Products (Garbage and Windfalls).

Part Two discusses the work environment, equipment, much of which can be acquired from charity shops, and harvesting and storage of plant materials, as well as occupational health and safety rules.

Part Three focuses on Traditional Dye Materials, presented in table form on thick brown paper with Common and Taxonomic Names and the Parts Used. The use of different paper makes this section  quick and easy to find , its entries organised by colour: Black and Greys; Purples: Flora/ Fauna; Blues; Greens; Yellows and Golds (at three pages, the largest section!); Oranges; Reds: Flora/ Fauna; Pinks: Flora/ Fauna; and Browns. There are also notes about Poisonous Plants; Edible Dye Plants and Edible Plant Dyes for Culinary Magic! I much prefer the thought of using beetroot, onion, calendula, rose leaves, violets and pansies to colour cakes and biscuits rather than synthetic Azo dyes, which have been proven to cause liver cancer and are banned in Europe.

The next section, Part Four, is by far the largest in the book and covers:

Fibre Preparation: 

Wool and Other Animal Fibres, including Cashmere and Mohair (Goats); Angora (Rabbits); Alpaca; Camel; Llama; Yak; Horsehair; Dog and Cat; and even Shatoosh (an Endangered Tibetan Antelope); as well as luxurious Silk ;

Plant Fibres: Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum); Linen (Flax, Linum); Ramie (Boehmeria nivea), Nettle (Urtica), Jute, Sisal (Agave Cactus), Raffia, Pineapple, Reed, Banana and Hemp.

Mordants:

Applied at different stages of the dyeing process (Pre-Mordanting; Co-Mordanting and Post-Mordanting) to fix and enhance colour, improve colour fastness to light, washing and perspiration, prevent colour bleeding and extend the colour range of a dyepot, most mordants are highly toxic and their disposal thereby difficult. Not only is ingestion harmful, but the success of aromatherapy suggests that the presence of harmful chemical residues against our skin is also worth considering.

While alum (usually in the form of Potassium aluminium sulphate) is one of the least harmful of the traditional mordants, being used in pickling and baking powder, India has gone to great lengths to explore alternatives, which include: Urine; Blood; Gelatine; Yoghurt; Tins; Eggs; Ash; Soy Milk; Sea Water; Fermented Fruit Vinegars; Lemon Juice; Compost; Oxidized Wine; Iron Teas; Copper Coins; Cow and Sheep manure; Aqueous Paint Solutions and Seed Oils.

Any plants with ‘tinctoria’  (dyemaking); ‘officinalis’ (medicinal use) as the species name or words like oxalis (oxalic acid) and salix (salicyclic acid eg willow) are worth investigating, as well as plants rich in tannins like oak, pomegranate, spruce, chestnut, wattle,  bracken and mangroves, as well as dock, sorrel, and acorns.

Processing Plant Dyes:

After discussing the disadvantages of traditional boiling, India summarizes the following methods:

Hot Extraction-Hot Processing: Simmer and steep; Multiple extractions; Single extractions by boiling; Concentrated tinctures;

Hot extraction-Cold Processing: Solar dyeing; and Snaplock bag;

Cold Extraction-Cold Processing: Compost dyeing; Ice-flower dyeing; Cold-bundling; and Hapa-zome beating;

Cold Extraction-Hot Processing: Streaming in bundles; Long soaking and steeping; Dry extraction by fermentation before hot processing.

She also discusses Nomadic dyeing; and Plants for sequential extractions (St. John’s Wort; Safflower and Eucalyptus).

Part Five examines some very Special Dye Plant Groups:

Eucalyptus Dyes;

Other Australian Flora:

Mistletoes, Amyema;

Kangaroo Paw, Anigozanthos;

Indigofera australis;

Insects from the Eriococcus family;

Wattle, Acacia;

Kennedia nigricans;

Callistemons;

 Grevilleas;

Quandong, Santalum acuminatum;

Sandalwood, Santalum lanceolatum;

Bracken Fern, Pteridium esculentum;

Morinda citrifolia; and

Thryptomene calycina.

Ice-Flower Dyes:

Freezing flowers in snap-lock bags, then immersing them in lukewarm water with the addition of ash or alum (for blues),  vinegar (for reds) or washing soda, sodium carbonate (for greenish-blues). Suitable flowers include: Petunias, pansies, violets and violas; iris; delphiniums and pelargoniums, while berries include: blackberries, elderberries, raspberries, cherries and Berberis darwinii.

Fruits and Berries: Cold Berry Dyes: The afore-mentioned berries, as well as Mulberries; Blueberries and Solanum nigrum.

Part Six investigates Special Effects:

Cold Bundled Eco-Prints eg Eucalyptus and mistletoe foliage, acacia pods, onion skins; beetroot peelings; bark; tea leaves; coffee grounds; wilted flowers; citrus slices and even, blackberry jelly pulp!

Hot Bundled Ecoprints: Latvian Easter Egg Dyeing;

Hapa-zome Beating Colour into Cloth;

Dyeing Wool Yarn and Sliver, including Ikat Dyeing;

Multicoloured Yarns;

Printing with Plant Dyes;

Shibori and Layered Dyeing: Hexagon (Honeycomb), Tartan and Chequerboard Patterns; and Multicoloured Fabrics;

Resists: Block Printing; Batik; Flour and Egg Resists;

Solar Dyeing; and

Cow and Mud Patties.BlogNatlDyeing2518-04-18 17.01.22In the photos above and below are two scarves dyed using the bundling method. Because I did not dye them myself, I cannot tell you much about the plant matter used, except there was definitely the inclusion of some eucalypt leaves in the silk scarf below!BlogNatlDyeing2518-04-18 17.01.34BlogNatlDyeing2518-04-18 17.01.43Part Seven returns to the importance of ecological sustainability  in Some Other Considerations, with essays on the importance of water, time, safe waste disposal and  the correct care of silk, wool, cotton and other fabrics , so they last as long as possible. The final section, Part Eight, contains a bibliography and useful websites.BlogNatlDyeing3018-02-07 15.23.13I  really love this book, not just for its innovative approach and emphasis on the environment and sustainability, but also its thoroughness, its attention to detail, its invitation to experimentation, its simple and thoughtful explanations and above all, India’s  engaging story-telling style. If you would like to know more about her and her ecodyeing techniques, see:  https://theplanthunter.com.au/people/india-flint/, with her fashion label blog at: http://prophet-of-bloom.blogspot.com.au/.

In response to Tony last week and other readers, who may be wondering about the range of colours produced by eucalypts, here are two interesting and informative websites: https://sallyblake.com/eucalyptus-dyes-1/ and http://anpsa.org.au/APOL8/dec97-6.html!

Next week, I am featuring Flowering Salvias, whose dainty and colourful flowers could be ideal subjects for eco-printing! I have some experimentation ahead of me!!! Until then, Happy Dyeing…naturally, of course!

Books on Natural Dyeing Part Two: Traditional Dyeing

While I love indigo, there are so many other wonderful dye plants, yielding a huge variety of  natural dyes and colours and similarly, a large number of books (though not as many as the plants!) devoted to the subject, again each with a slightly different approach and style.

Jenny Dean is an English  natural dyeing expert, having worked with natural dyes for almost forty years. It is well worth reading her interview with The Wild Dyery at: http://thewilddyery.com/interview-with-jenny-dean/, as well as her blog at http://www.jennydean.co.uk/. In a post at the beginning of the year, she mentioned a tantalising One Year Natural Dyeing Course from March 2018 to February 2019 at Ditchling Museum in East Sussex, but given it started last month, I will have to contend with Jenny’s books instead, of which there are over seventy,  two of which I actually possess! I have also discovered that Wild Dyery runs 12 week online courses, which look really interesting as well. See: http://naturalfabricdyeing.com/, but back to Jenny’s books!

Wild Colour: How to Grow, Prepare and Use Natural Plant Dyes by Jenny Dean 1999

This beautiful hardcover book is divided into three sections:

Introduction: This important chapter covers the theoretical background of natural dyeing from its history:

Origins and evolution of natural dyeing techniques;

Development of medieval guilds of master dyers, trade routes and synthetic dyes;

Dye categories (substantive/ vat and adjective);

Other sources of natural colour: Tyrian or Imperial Purple from Murex and Purpura shellfish and a variety of reds: a scarlet Kermes Red, Red Lac and Cochineal from the bodies of scale insects, feeding on oak leaves/ fig and acacia leaves/ and prickly pear cactus respectively);

Specific plant dyes: Red: Madder, Brazilwood and Safflower; and Purple: Logwood and Lichens; and

Application techniques: Discharge Dyeing; Block Printing; Ikat Dyeing; and Blue Printing.

Dyeing Techniques:

Safety Guidelines: For use and storage;

Equipment: Drying and storing plant material; Camping stove; Water source; Stainless steel pots, only used for dyeing; Large bowls and buckets; Plastic containers for leftover dyes; Tongs  and log-handled spoons; Measuring jugs; Strainers or colanders; Weighing scales; Rubber gloves and oven mitts; Labels and waterproof markers; and Record book.

Water pH: Testing and adjusting it;

Materials: Animal and vegetable fibres and their preparation for the dye bath;

Mordants:

Natural: Staghorn sumac Leaves; Rhubarb leaves; and Oak galls;

Chemical Compounds: Aluminium, Iron and Copper;

Premordanting Methods:  To fix the dye to the fibres, including instructions for making mordant solutions, using crystals or your own ingredients; Calculating quantities of mordant required; Mordanting animal and plant fibres; Choosing a mordant; and the safe disposal or storage of mordants.

Preparing Plant Parts for Dyeing: Drying; Quantities; Testing; Experimenting; and Extracting colour from bark, flowers, leaves and berries;

Selecting the Best Dyeing Method: Cool Dyeing; Hot Dyeing; and All-in-One Methods;

Dyeing with Specific Plants: Safflower; Indigo; and Woad;

Colour Modifiers: To extend the range of colours from a single  dyebath to create a number of different shades, giving an example of 25 colours from the one dyebath:

Acidic Modifiers: Produce yellower tones;

Alkaline Modifiers: Usually creates pinker tones, but can change colours dramatically eg elderberry pinks and purples become green;

Copper Modifiers: Makes colours greener or browner in tones;

Iron Modifiers: Makes colours darker and more sombre, as well as improving the rastness of dyes;

Wash Fastness; and most importantly, especially if replication of results is desired,

Recording Natural Dyeing Results: Labelling fibre samples in a record book with the name of the fibre; mordant used; dyestuff; methods; and timing. Even information like the previous season and weather and location/ soil/ climate of the plant can be noted.

However, the largest section of the book is devoted to the Dye Plants themselves: all sixty species of them, with their scientific name and species, photographs, description and history of use; their cultivation and harvest; the extraction of their pigments; and dyeing procedures.

There are useful Colour Swatches for each plant entry, showing probable results when certain techniques are used: Firstly, the Dye Colour on Fabrics (black bucket symbol); Adding an Alum Mordant Before Dyeing (white bucket symbol and Using an Iron Modifier After Dyeing (shaded bucket symbol) or Combinations of all three approaches. The number of different shades and colours, which can be achieved from the same plant is amazing! While some plants like Comfrey (grey-greens), Yarrow (beige, soft yellow and soft khaki green) and Hollyhock (maroon and mauve shades) produce only a limited palette, others like Saint John’s Wort (yellow and gold, green and deep red and a range of browns); Walnut (soft browns to gold, kahaki shades and a deep brown) and Apple (a wide range of different browns and khaki golds to pure gold, scarlet and green) yield many different colours.

Some produce different colour ranges according to :

Part of the plant used : In Betula (birch) and Prunus (cherry, plum, peach, almond and apricot) trees, the leaves produce soft yellow to green shades and the bark a range of pinks, while Eucalypts yield rich rusty reds and deep browns from the leaves and a range of greys from the bark;

Method Used: The colours from dyeing with the leaves of woad vary from blues to pink skin tones and greys, while those of Japanese Indigo (Polygonum tinctorium) produce a wide colour range from warm and cool browns to blues and purples, according to the method used.

Some plants are surprising. I would have expected ivy berries and leaves to produce green colours, but the berries only do so with the use of mordants and modifiers, their original unadulterated colour being a soft grey and the leaves yield a range of browns- no green at all!. I also anticipated that pomegranates to produce a red dye, where in reality the fruit and outer skins yield soft ochres and browns, so lacking in brilliance that they are often mixed with turmeric to brighten the colour, however they are rich in tannins, which improves colour fastness and can also be used as a mordant. Rhubarb is a particularly useful plant, as its leaves are a natural mordant and produce greeny-yellow shades, while its roots yield a range of yellows, golds, greens, browns and oranges.

Each page also has an inset box detailing each plant’s range, availability, growing habits, planting and harvesting times, dye stuff (as in flower/ roots/ bark/ leaves and berries) and dyeing instructions.

It is a fascinating and inspirational book, which really makes you want to start experimenting immediately!BlogNatlDyeing3018-02-07 15.25.09

The Craft of Natural Dyeing: Growing Colours From the Plant World by Jenny Dean 1994

My second guide by Jenny Dean is a simpler paperback form covering much the same subject matter: Materials; Equipment; Safety notes; Dyeing a skein of wool or cotton; Record keeping; Mordants; Mordanting techniques; Dyestuffs; Extracting dye colour, Testing for colour fastness; Dye mixing and overdyeing; Colour ranges; and Dye plants to grow.

I found the sections on Mordants and Plant Parts particularly easy to understand in this book and the colour divisions give a quick idea of suitable plants to try. For example,

Yellows and Golds: Weld, Fustic, Safflower, Onions and Nettles;

Greens: Logwood mixed with Weld; Fustic or Onion skins; or overdyeing yellow with indigo; and using an iron modifier on yellow or a copper mordant;

Blues: Indigo and Woad;

Purples, Lavenders and Greys: Cochineal, Logwood, Alkanet and Elderberries;

Pinks and Reds: Cochineal, Safflower and Madder;

Oranges, Rusts and Browns: Annatto, Cutch, Henna, Lichen, Onion skins, Weld, Cochineal, Walnut hulls and leaves, and Madder; or using an iron solution; and

Blacks and Neutrals: Logwood overdyed with indigo or premordanting with tannin (oak galls) and iron.

Overall, an easy introductory guide to natural dyeing, but if I had to make a choice and only have one of her books, it would have to be the more comprehensive Wild Colour.BlogNatlDyeing3018-02-07 15.23.47

Natural Dyeing by Jackie Crook 2007

Another useful guide with a slightly different approach. While the chapter titled: How To Dye covers much of the basic information on dyeing equipment, precautions and techniques, I liked her step-by-step instructions with clear photographs of each stage for cleaning and premordanting, not just wool and cotton, but also silk, as well as the different methods of dyeing (hot water, cool water and vat).

While Jenny based her divisions on plant or colours produced, Jackie has divided the next section based on the plant part used, incorporating 30 different plants and projects, with brief descriptions, requirements and methods, as well as tips, photographs of examples and a colour chart of the effects produced by different mordants (Alum, Chrome, Copper, Iron and Tin). They include:

Roots: Madder, Alkanet, Turmeric and Rhubarb;

Woods and Barks: Brazilwood; Logwood; Cutch; Buckthorn; Sanderswood (Red Sandalwood); Osage Orange; and Querbracho;

Flowers: Gorse; Goldenrod; and French Marigold (Tagetes);

Leaves and Stalks: Henna; Weld; Tea (Thea sinensis); Stinging Nettle and Tansy;

Fruits and Vegetables: Annatto; Elderberry; Walnut; Blackberry; Red Cabbage; Onion; Avocado and Ivy.

There is also a section for Special Colours: Indigo, Cochineal and Lac.

In the back is a simplified chart for quick easy reference of all the material covered, including common and Latin names; their suitability for dyeing silk, wool and cotton; and the form of their dye eg fresh,  dried  or frozen roots/ berries/ tops/ skins, powder; concentrated extract; chips;or teabags, as well as a colour chart showing the colours obtained by using five different mordants (alum, chrome, copper, iron and tin) with each of the 30 dyestuffs.

A useful addition to the library, as it covers slightly different plants (eg Red Cabbage, Avocado, Sanderswood, Osage Orange, Querbracho, Gorse, Tea and Lac) and mordants (chrome and tin).BlogNatlDyeing4018-02-07 15.25.14A Dyer’s Garden: From Plant to Pot: Growing Dyes for Natural Fibres by Rita Buchanan 1995

If you are a keen natural dyer with a large garden, this little pocket guide  is perfect for you! I think that often one of the hardest things about gardening is having the space and the right requirements (sun/ shade; damp/ dry; soil type etc) to fulfill all your needs from aesthetics (garden design) and productivity (fruit, vegetables and herbs) to fragrance, recreation areas, floristry, and of course, dye plants!

Rita is an American dyer with a similar natural dyeing pedigree to Jenny Dean, with over forty years of experience.

The first part of the book is devoted to chapters on :

Plant Choice;

Propagation and Cultivation;

Planning a Dye Garden, including plans for a Daisy-Shaped Bed; a Raised Bed; a Mixed Border; and a Production Garden, as well as a guide to the spacing and yield of dye plants;

Basic Plant Dyeing: Equipment and Materials; Mordanting; Harvesting and storage; Making a dye bath; Dyeing yarn; Additives and afterdips; and Dyeing with indigo and woad; and

Colour and Colours: In this section, Rita explains the myriad reasons for colour variations, including:

Soil type;

Moisture and temperature during the growing season;

Stage of maturity and growth;

Plant part gathered;

Used fresh or stored;

Length of soaking or simmering time for the dyebath;

Mineral content and pH of the water used;

Amount and type of mordant and when and how it was applied to the yarn;

Type of fibre;

Ratio of dye plant to fibre;

Temperature and length of simmering or soaking time for the yarn,

and how this great variation allows for extended experimentation and constant awe, interest and inspiration. It’s certainly a very exciting field and is easy to see why my retired chemist mentor got hooked, line and sinker!

The last and major part of the book presents a portfolio of dye garden plants, suitable for the home garden, including their photo with brief details of Common and Latin names; Climatic Zone; Height; Spacing; and Yield, followed by longer descriptions and notes on related species, cultivation, propagation and dyeing, complete with side panels of colour swatches of the results from using different fibres,  different parts of the plant, different mordants, unusually short or long simmering /soaking times; and different additives or afterdips. Again, a slightly different list of plants, including Garland Chrysanthemum; Sunflower; Zinnias; Purple Basil; Purple Loosestrife; Marjoram, Hops, Bronze Fennel; Peppergrass; and Broom Sedge. In the back is a list of Mail Order Suppliers of Dye Plants and Seeds, though this is possibly out-of-date by now!BlogNatlDyeing4018-02-07 15.24.55With regard to the history of colour, it is also worth reading Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay, which I have already reviewed in: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/01/23/craft-books-colour-design-and-inspiration-part-one/. Next week is my final post on this subject : Dyeing Down Under!

Books on Natural Dyeing Part One: Books on Indigo Dyeing

I have always been fascinated with the use of plant dyes to magically transform the colour of cloth. I love the history of their use, their softer, more muted colours, their complementary nature to each other and the fact that they are organic rather than chemically manufactured.  I also love the fact that you are never quite sure what colour you are going to get, as it varies between plants, soils, growing conditions and the process used. Indigo is particularly magical as the main indigo pigments, Indicant (indico plants) and Iastin B (woad plants) are actually  invisible and insoluble, being extracted by a complicated reduction process, and after the material has been dipped in the dye vat, the cloth changes from a greenish-yellow colour to an indigo blue, as the dye pigment oxidises and precipitates directly onto the fibres.

Consequently, I have bought a number of books on the topic of natural dyeing over the years. I even participated in a course at Dorrigo with a retired chemist, who now devotes her life to this very specific area, this involvement resulting in a most amusing and memorable repercussion. When I told my poor friend over the phone that I had just done a course in ‘natural dyeing’, there was a hushed silence, followed by: ‘But Janey, I didn’t know..!’ Sorry Liz!!!

In my last post on Books on Textile Printing, I finished with a book on Shibori, an ancient resist-dyeing technique used to create pattern on cloth, often using indigo dyes, so I thought I would start this post with two fantastic books on Indigo Dyeing, one theoretical and one highly practical, and both essential additions to the craft library, especially for those interested in natural dyeing. Because this post is so long, I am dividing it into three parts over the next 3 weeks, so today’s post features books on Indigo Dyeing; next week’s post is about General Natural Dyeing books and the third week focuses on books on Natural Dyeing with Australian Plants.

Indigo: The Colour That Changed the World by Catherine Legrand 2012

Indigo dyeing is a universal practice, found from Japan (Ai), Southern China (Landian), Laos and Vietnam (Cham), India (Nila), Africa (Gara) and Central America (Anil). There is even an Indigo Trail from Central Asia to West Africa. Other terms for indigo include: Indigotin; Indicant; and Xiquilite.

There are many different plant varieties that yield blue dye, including the

Indigofera family: Indigo;

Isatis family: Dyer’s and Chinese Woad;

Lonchocarpus family: Yoruba Indigo or Gara and Gambian Indigo;

Wrightia family: Pala Indigo or Dyer’s Oleander; Lan Shu and Mok;

Polygonum tinctorium (now called Persicaria tinctoria): Japanese Indigo, as seen in photo below;

Strobilanthes cusia, the Rum or Assam or Golden Triangle Indigo; and

Others:  Tarum Akar  (Broad-Leafed Indigo); Mohuitli (Sacatinta) and Azul (Panciga or Tinta); and

Urubu-retigma and Yangua (Llangua).

BlogNatlDyeing3014-12-20 10.58.10-2No matter which area of the world the indigo is produced or which species is involved, the basic process involves exactly the same steps:

Cultivation and/or wild harvesting of the plant;

Extraction of the pigment by steeping or crushing, drying or composting the  leaves;

Preparation of the dye bath; and

Dyeing of the cloth or yarn.

It’s quite a complicated chemical process, involving reduction and oxidisation, which is explained really well in this lovely coffee-table book, along with the fascinating history and contemporary production of woad and indigo, amply supported with over 500 beautiful colour illustrations.

It focuses in-depth on the production of indigo in Europe, Japan, China, Laos and Vietnam, India, Africa and Central America. I learnt so much from this book about indigo and indeed, the different cultures and countries themselves! Did you know that:

There was a Blue Triangle (It is in the Haut Lauragais in South-West France and has been the main producer of woad since the early Middle Ages) and a Blue Mutiny (by Indian indigo growers against their British overlords in Bengal, India in 1859)

That the art of indigo extraction is extremely ancient, with woad found in Neolithic burial sites and the ink used to write the Dead Sea Scrolls; and

That denim jeans were originally made from the indigo-dyed Serge de Nimes?

In the back is a list of museums displaying woad and indigo textiles, as well as contemporary artists and studios working with woad and indigo and an extensive bibliography.BlogNatlDyeing4018-02-07 15.23.23For lovers of indigo and textile historians, in fact anyone interested in textiles or ethnic fashions, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s a truly beautiful book!

A Handbook of Indigo Dyeing by Vivien Prideaux 2003

Equally fascinating and essential, this paperback guide is the practical equivalent to the previous book. Starting with a Brief History and Health and Safety Guidelines, it progresses to:

Materials:

Natural Fibres: Cellulose and protein;

Indigo: Plants, Dried Indigo: blocks, cakes, balls or sheets; Powder; and Synthetic Indigo;

Dyeing Chemicals:  Sodium hydroxide, Sodium hydrosulphite, Calcium hydroxide, Washing soda, Ammonia, Zinc and Methanol; and

Other ingredients: Soap, Gelatin, Vinegar, Sugar, Urea and Bran;BlogNatlDyeing2014-11-21 15.50.15Tools and Equipment: Weighing scales; Measuring jugs; Bowls; Timer; Plastic vat; Stainless steel Buckets; Thermometer; pH paper; Measuring spoons and stirring sticks;  Mortar and pestle;  Masking tape; Printing blocks; Clamps and Pegs; Rubber bands; String/rope; Needle and thread; Poles; Paste resists; and Found objects : Screws, corks, shells, rocks, marbles and coins;BlogNatlDyeing2014-11-21 10.32.09-1and Fabric Preparation: Pre-washing fabrics and yarn, before getting down to the nitty-gritty of:

Specialised Shibori Techniques: With detailed and easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions. I know, as I used this book extensively in my indigo workshop, documented in the photos above and below in 2014, practising the techniques marked with an asterisk.

Itajime or Board Clamping, including Kikko Folding *;

Stitched and Gathered, including Mokume (wood grain) by hand or pleating machine*;BlogNatlDyeing2014-11-21 15.51.26

Binding Objects into Fabric, using shells, beads, rice, marbles, screws *, peas, sticks;

or just pinched fabric bound with rubber bands or plastic ties *;

Folded and Stitched, including Ori Nui (Running stitches parallel to fold of fabric) *;

Maki Nui or Chevron Stripes (Over-stitching the fold)*

Karamatsu or Japanese Larch (Concentric half-circles) *;

Bomaki or Pole Wrapping *,

BlogNatlDyeing2514-12-22 16.18.01

though I also tried wrapping and binding a rope *;

Katano (fabric folded and sandwiched between two polyester layers, which act as a resist) ; and

Paste Resist (Including the Nigerian adire-eleko) with flour and water applied with sponges, brushes, potato prints, wood blocks or stencils.

Methods of Dyeing: Reduction is necessary to make the insoluble indigo soluble, so it yields its wonderful colour. It does so by extracting oxygen from the dyebath, filled with a brackish-yellow liquid, streaked with blue and topped with a blueish-bronze flower. After cloth is dipped into the vat and hung out in the air, its colour changes from yellow-green to indigo blue, as oxidation occurs, bonding the colour to the fibres. Reduction is achieved by:

Chemical Fermentation with a Zinc Lime Vat;

Chemical Reduction with a Hydrosulphite Vat; and

Natural Fermentation, using a Bio Vat or a Urine Vat.

This book explains each process so well:

Making the basic bath and stock solution;

Combining the two;

Dyeing the fabric; and

Maintaining the vat, including recipes for dyeing the different natural fibres .BlogNatlDyeing2514-12-20 12.30.01-1

Post-Dyeing Treatments: Steaming; and Overdyeing and Discharging.

The author also describes a number of projects from scarves and jackets to tea cosies and cushions.BlogNatlDyeing25%Image (5)

Next week, I am continuing with some inspiring books on traditional natural dyeing.