The revival of the ancient technique of printing with mordants and dyeing in bi-colourants to achieve contemporary poly-chromic designs
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractThis paper explores the creation of a range of sustainable patterned fabrics by employing various Bio-colorants (natural dyes) in combination with a range of mordants that have a lesser impact upon the environment to create a poly-chromatic design within single dyeing process. Practice based research was undertaken into dyeing and printing with Madder, Logwood, Weld and Woad or Indigo in combination with a selection of mordants Alum, Copper Acetate, Iron Acetate and Tannins onto a range of fabric bases which includes the new regenerated fibres alongside traditional natural ones as a sustainable option (1, 2). Mordants that have been used from ancient times produce a pattern during the dyeing process. By looking at these historical (3, 4) and traditional applications (5) from across the globe, it was hoped that a more sustainable method of patterning either through printed (screen and block), stencilled or hand-painted techniques could be designed. According to Robinson (6): Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79), writing of the ancient Egyptians, stated that, ‘Garments are painted in Egypt in a wonderful manner, the white clothes being first coated, not with colours but with drugs which absorb the colours. Although the dyeing liquid is one colour, the garment is dyed several colours according to the different properties of the drugs which have been applied to the different parts: nor can this be washed out’ It is thought that this passage was describing madder dye alongside as the various mordants – alum, iron salts and copper salts as they were known at that time (7). Since this ancient time, the application of natural dyes evolved over the centuries into an advanced form of dyeing as this was only form of permanently colouring fabrics until the advent of synthetic dyes by Perkins in 1856. The ‘Art of Dyeing’ became a highly secretive and protected practice with the formation of Dyers Guilds from the 14th c. The technique of the application of different mordants to create more than one colour evolved within the Far East employed initially to produce the ‘Indienne mania’ (Chintz) madder dyed calicos of the 17th c. and 18th c. and later with the development of ‘Turkey Red’ prints, the secrete of which remained undisclosed until the late 18th c. (7). (1) Garcia. 2012, Natural Dye Workshop: Colors Of Provence Using Sustainable Methods, London: Studio Galli. (2) Dean, J, & Casselman, K. 1999, Wild Colour, London: Mitchell Beazley. (3) Bird. 1875. The Dyers Handbook. USA. (4) Hummel, J.J. 1885. The Dyeing of Textile Fabrics. London: Cassell & Company Ltd (5) Bilgrami, N. 1990. Singh jo Ajrak. Pakistan: Department of Culture and Tourism Government of Sindh. (6) Robinson, S. 1969. A History of Dyed Textiles, London: W & J Makckay & Co Ltd. (7) Chenciner, R. 2001. Madder Red: A History of Luxury and Trade. Richmond: Cuzon Press. (8) Storey, J. 1992 The Thames and Hudson Manual of Textile Printing. London: Thames and Hudson.
CitationWells, K. and Churn, K. (2018) 'The revival of the ancient technique of printing with mordants and dyeing in bi-colourants to achieve contemporary poly-chromic designs’, Proceedings of the 37th international conference of dyes in history and archaeology. Lisbon, Portugal 25-26 October. pp 81-82. Available at: https://eventos.fct.unl.pt/dha37/files/dha37_book_of_abstract_sitedha_0.pdf. (Accessed: 7 March 2019)
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