Books: Natural Dyes by Dominique Cardon

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The long awaited “bible” of natural dyeing has been waiting for me in Regina (I had it shipped here). The book is expensive, but it’s over 700 pages of large format with gorgeous illustrations and more information than I can absorb in quite a while. It has lots of things that I haven’t seen in any of the other books, but its focus is on the natural dyes that have had historic significance, not so much on the backyard sources of color. Having said that, a number of the North American as well as European backyard solutions can also be found in this book, with historic as well as archeological references that might not be available elsewhere and are most interesting. In a way, I think, this is the most fascinating part of the book, and I will likely keep posting some “stories” from this book, starting maybe with a historic witness account of how Ukrainians were harvesting the “Polish” cochineal.

Here is the list of contents, just to give you some sense of what’s there:  Continue reading

Local (sic.) source of sappan wood

You know, that sappan wood I keep talking about, that gives the red or pink, or orange after yellow color? I’m running out of my supply, and so I looked around some more in case I won’t find anyone to bring me some from India. Since it is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Chinese name is Su Mu), I googled and then e-mailed the main Chinese herb stores and clinics in Toronto, asking if they had any.

This one http://www.greatchinaherbscentre.com in Downtown Toronto said they have it and sell it for $12 per pound. This is still 3 times more expensive than what I would get in India, but it is also 3 times cheaper than maiwa, and it is right here, next to the AGO. (I’ve been inside that store, but haven’t bought anything there.)

So, if you live close to a major Chinese community hub, try the Chinese medicine store, they might have sappan wood. It also has major medicinal qualities, which, I suspect, could do me good, so I might even try drinking some, that is, after getting a proper prescription, or it might be deadly – I read that it did kill some animals in pharmaceutical research, but I didn’t pay attention how big was the animal, and now potent a doze :).

Books: Dye Plants of Ontario by Nancy J. McGuffin

I was checking out some books in the library, to see whether I am going to buy them or not, and stumbled upon this one, which I won’t get, but it might be of interest to someone else. There is a fairly good collection of books on natural dyes in the library at the Royal Ontario Museum (and here I didn’t even know they had a library!), so this is where I went on a book scouting trip last week.

Here’s the table of contents:They teamed up and tested all the recipes that are provided (on textiles, of course). What is nice about this book is that every recipe comes with a sketch of the plant. Here is bloodroot, one of the traditional East coast North American plants that is supposed to give colors within the red range (hence the name if the plant):

The recipes do not mention lightfastness at all, which for me is a significant downside, but the sketches are nice.

Books: Craft of the Dyer by Casselman

This has become one of the books I use very often, it provides detailed accounts (140 pages) of the dyes made from plants (and lichen) that grow (or can be grown) in North America. It also has basic recipes for different types of dyestuff.As always, one has to keep in mind that not everything that works for fabrics, works the same way, or at all for eggs, so we try things out and see.

Unfortunately, the paperback edition I bought, while it has an expanded section on lichen, does not include the color plates from the older hardcover edition, so I’m adding them here: Continue reading

Books: Lithuanian Easter Eggs

Of all the books I’ve added to my egg-related library this year (and I’ve added quite a few), this one is definitely number one treasure. Out of print, I found the used copy and bought it. It was expensive, but worth every dollar, if you are into that kind of thing.

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Books: Country Colours by Carolyn Lock

I’m starting a series of posts about useful books with this beautifully done guide to dyeing wool using common plants that grow in Nova Scotia, published by Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, N.S. 1981. You probably wouldn’t buy it, unless you are really interested (amazon sells used copies for $10-15), so I will copy here the things I found useful or interesting. I found this book in my university library, so you might find it in some libraries as well.

The book has a nice intro and a chapter on history, then directions on natural dyeing of wool. This contains a chart some of you might find useful on different mordants, with proper and common names, see below.

Then some information on collecting the plants, which I will omit here, and then a set of charts with records of plants collected and what color they gave with which mordant. Something I found extremely interesting in this chart was that sometimes the same plant with same mordant gave a different color if collected a month later, so this is something to be aware of. Here are all of these charts. Continue reading