Arte Es Vida

Wild Color: The Complete Guide To Making And Using Natural Dyes by arteesvida
December 23, 2006, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Book Reviews, Fabric Arts

Up until the mid 19th century, all fibers were dyed with natural sources. Although textiles decay very quickly, archeologists have found some textiles colored with natural dyes that are at least 6000 years old….many from sealed tombs and burial chambers.

The first synthetic dye (a purple color) was created in 1856, by chemist William Perkin who was experimenting with the hydrocarbons in coal tar. Synthetic dyes rapidly became popular because they were more cost effective to produce. But ironically, they never really did improve upon the color palette of the homemade dyes…they synthetic indigo developed in 1904 was no richer or more vibrant than the real thing!

While it makes sense to use synthetic dyes on a larger scale, for costuming purposes the natural dyes can be wonderfully fun to work with. The natural variations lend a wonderful authenticity to your work!

Wild Color by Jenny Dean is as about as complete a resource as you can get if you are interested in doing your own dying.

The first section covers all sorts of dying techniques and methods, preparing fibers (whether animal or vegetable), using and making mordants, and modifying colors. But don’t let all of these ideas and new terms scare you…it is all broken down in to easy steps and alternatives. Jenny Dean is definitely of the Don’t sweat it…just give it a try! school of thought. The wonderful chart that shows how 25 different shades can be made from just one dye bath…by applying different mordants and color modifiers. For those of us who are visual learners, this is a big help.

The second section covers different dye plants you can use for natural dying. Each plant has it’s own color chart, so you have a good idea of what colors you can get from the flower, the leaves, or the bark. The different shades crated with mordants and color modifiers are also listed. These color charts are also listed on the right edge of each page…you can literally flip through the book like it is a color chart until you find the shade you want…how easy is that?

Whether you want to dye cloth, yarns, or even buttons (mother of pearl takes dyes beautifully…who knew?) this book is a wonderful tool. Check it out!

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