Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Natural Dye Book

I actually have the first edition of Wild Color, by Jenny Dean, and was quite pleased this morning to find out that there is a new, revised edition out now as the first one had gone out of print. This is a wonderful introductory book on natural dyeing.  If you can only get one book on natural dyes, this would be the one to get!  This book has been indispensable for all my natural dying experiments.

That being said, the first edition had a few organizational issues which have hopefully been resolved in this new revision.  I'm tempted to order the new version myself just to find out, the book really is that useful.  A very nice chart telling you what mordants and assists work best with each plant is included on each page, with a color swatch giving you a general idea of what colors to expect from the plant, but in the first edition the key the symbols used was buried in a very strange place.  The problem is easily solved with a bookmark or post it, but finding that key in the first place (or when you lose your post it) can be quite aggravating. 

You also need to read all the general instructions first!  I know, I know, you want to jump right in and start working with that madder you got at Pennsic, but reading the general instructions at the start of the book will save you a huge amount of pain and suffering later on.  Then you can read up on the specifics of your dye plant, and get to work.  Dean does a good job of explaining the chemistry behind natural dying, and you need to have a basic understanding of this before you jump in.

For the history buffs, there is a short chapter on the history of dyeing at the start of the book that is a good starting off point for future research, but this is really a how-to book, not an academic one.  There is a lot of great historical information and period dye recipes available on the web to round out your A&S bibliography.

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