Joanne S. Carpender
Dye Plants and Dyeingby John Cannon, Margaret Cannon
A newly revised edition of the popular 1994 book, this clear account of plants from which natural dyes can be obtained will be welcomed not only by all who work with fiber arts but also by botanists. The authors have selected 48 plants from different parts of the world and they describe each plant's structure and cultivation, the history of each as a dye source,
A newly revised edition of the popular 1994 book, this clear account of plants from which natural dyes can be obtained will be welcomed not only by all who work with fiber arts but also by botanists. The authors have selected 48 plants from different parts of the world and they describe each plant's structure and cultivation, the history of each as a dye source, and the best method for a plant's use based on their own experiments. Most well-known dye plants are discussed, and each plant is beautifully illustrated by Gretel Dalby-Quenet in a full-page painting that shows the colors the plant can yield.
Joanne S. Carpender
- Timber Press, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 7.24(w) x 9.72(h) x 0.42(d)
Read an Excerpt
Walnut dyes are of great historic importance. In the first century AD, Pliny records their use to keep hair from turning white. His recipe included the use of walnut shells (probably husks) boiled with oil, ashes, lead and earthworms. In the Ladies Dictionary of 1694, walnut husks were used in hair dyes to make grey hair black. The recipe states: "Hair, to render it black, take the bark of an oak root, green husks of walnut, three ounces of each, and the deepest and oldest red wine a pint. Boil them well bruised to the consumption of half a pint, strain out the juice and add oil of myrtle a pound and a half. Set them six days in the sun in a leaden mortar, stirring them well, anointing the hair will turn any coloured hair and black as jet in often doing." The use of a lead mortar must have been highly dangerous as the acid in the wine would have reacted with it. During the making of the famous Gobelins tapestries, husks were covered with water and left to ferment in a warm place for at least two years before use.
The parts most often used for dyeing are the leaves and fruit husks, but the bark, catkins and heartwood are also used. Leaves, fresh or dried, should be soaked for at least twenty-four hours before use. All parts of the tree contain a substantive dye, so it is not necessary to mordant wool to produce a strong colour. However, mordanting does produce a further range of shades, particularly with chrome, copper and iron. Husks are easiest to separate from the nuts while still fresh, and should be handled with rubber or plastic gloves, otherwise the hands will be badly stained. The husks can be left in a bucket of water for many months, or may be dried slowly for long-term storage.
All parts of the tree give various shades of browns and yellows. The colours are very permanent, except for pale shades with an alum mordant, which may yellow a little in sunlight. The bark removed from two-year-old branches is said to give a puce colour to wool mordanted with bismuth and tin, or brown-violet if given a very long simmering. The dye pot is said to smell of wallflowers.
Meet the Author
John Cannon was Keeper of Botany at the Natural History Museum, London, until his retirement in 1990. He has botanized and collected in many European countries and has traveled widely in the United States.
Margaret Cannon was a botanical researcher and has been actively involved with her husband's work and travels. She is now a craft-worker specializing in dyeing, spinning, and weaving.
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