Monday, January 10, 2011

Dictionary of Dyeing

I received this awesome present from my husband. A first edition print (1862) of 'A Dictionary of Calico Printing and Dyeing' by Charles O'Neill. This out-of-print book he found at the Antiquarian Bookshop, which for me is one of the most amazing places to spend time in in Melbourne.

I love the references to the guilds O'Neill was member to; Fellow of the Chemical Society of London, Member of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester. I think it was the fashionable thing for the 'free thinkers' of this time to be part of a guild; the early 1900's Arts & Crafts community was abuzz with new research & discovery, disbanding superstition for science.

My favorite part of this book so far is the 4 page description of BLACK,
"In a philosophical point of view black is not a colour. It is the abscence of colour, or the extinction or absorption of all the coloured rays of light, ........ There is no purely black body; such a body would be perfectly invisible, since it would neither emit nor reflect any rays of light by which it could be seen.".... it goes onto describe how to achieve black..... "The famous family of the Gobelines, whose success in dyeing was imputed to supernatural assistance, produced their best blacks by a mixture of the elementary colours - red, blue and yellow."
So the cloth was dipped first with red (pure madder), then blue (pure indigo), then yellow (weld), apparently producing a very perfect, but expensive black.

I'ts got me intruged - invisible cloth! - Although I might not be able to find the ingredients for some of these recipes, eg:
'DEEP HAT BLACK' for Silk without Galls.
2lbs. fustic chips,
1 lb, quecitron back
6 oz verdigriz,
6 oz copperas

Doesn't matter, I'm still finding it fascinating reading; and what a treasure to have, all wrapped in plastic in a protective acid free box.
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