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Tingere / Dyeing


These experiments are from when I was new to dyeing. I was trying to understand the effects of all the mordants and afterbaths I was reading about, and decided I'd have to do it before it made sense. I found a wonderfully logical and thorough approach in Trudy Van Stralen's book, Indigo, Madder, and Marigolds.

In it she provides instructions and a flow chart showing how to get 24 variations in color from a single dye pot by using different combinations of mordant and afterbaths. I altered it slightly to suit my needs by leaving out the chrome mordant and adding an iron afterbath. In everything else, I tried to follow her methodology as exactly as possible.



The procedure:

These instructions assume a working knowledge of how to safely handle dyes and mordants. For thorough how-to instructions, please refer to the resources page for some recommended books. The amounts listed are what I used for the samples pictured, and I tried to be consistent across dye materials. You should use whatever fiber and mordanting recipes you prefer.

Divide the silk into 24 skeins of equal weight, numbered 1-24.

Prepare the dye bath using your preferred recipe (I used distilled water for all samples).

Rinse the skeins and add to the dyepot (All samples were kept in the bath for one hour).

After dyeing, divide them in the following groups:

Even numbered skeins receive a further dip in ammonia.
Odd numbered skeins are left alone.


The samples:

I wound the samples on strips of acid-free cardboard. Each vertical strip represents one mordant and the horizontal rows allow comparison of each afterbath across mordants. I mounted the strips in a notebook meant for photographs, so there would be plenty of room for the added bulk.

All the samples use the same silk cord, from Treenway Silks. The dye materials and mordants are from various sources.

As far as the scanned images go, I don't expect that the colors reproduce on other computer screens with any accuracy at all. I'm including them because they still show something of the range of variation possible just by using different mordants and afterbaths.

Lastly, while I used dye materials that were available in the medieval period, I did not pay any attention to period recipes, or to what mordants or after treatments were in use at the time. In that sense, this is more of a modern exercise than an authentic one.