Natural Dyes

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British Museum Press, 2003 - Dyes and dyeing - 104 pages
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This handbook aims to span the range of experience between beginners, students and professionals. It explains how over 500 rich colours can be achieved from the five principal dyestuffs of madder, cochineal, weld, cutch and indigo. In addition, other ingredients such as walnut husks are included.

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Very clear, as the author is also a well respected teacher at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design at University College in the UK, it explains everything from proper pre-treatment of fabrics, both protein and cellulose, and mordanting, to specific dye types, and through to the most wonderful colour plates with “recipes” for achieving the colours. Best of all, as much information is presented for the cellulose as for proteins–while i like wool, and am happy with my results, i prefer to work with cellulose, specifically cotton, and let’s face it, most natural dye books barely give a passing mention to anything but wool! And there's no "kitchen scrap" nonsense like beets, strawberries and lettuce, all extremely fugitive, or old wive's tales about dandilion root giving magenta.
The only point i don’t like about the book is the extremely heavy WOF of cochineal used: 60%!!!!!! as opposed to the usual 3-10%WOF!!!!!!!!!!! ((EDIT: JAN 10/17 Actually a lot of her recipes are really heavy WOF's (500% madder????)---i'd say overkill in some respects, as fibres can still only uptake so much before it's wasted effort, materials and EXPENSE. And if it crocks after, well, big problems.) And yes, a lot of the info contained is also in other respected books in my library, but the extras i needed are what’s made it worth adding to the shelf. If i *didn’t have any of the others, it would be a fantastic start to the library too. And best of all, no wasted pages on “projects”: really, i’ve said it before, if you didn’t know you could actually MAKE things out of what you dyed, WHY are you doing it then?
I found my copy through AbeBooks, from an independent bookseller, at a much more reasonable price than Amazon.

About the author (2003)

Gwen Fereday currently teaches at The Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College.

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