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Authentic Colour?

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:29 am
by Frances Perry
Hello everyone!

A friend of mine has asked if the below wool is an authentic colour for the Medieval - Wars of the Roses - period. Or would it have to be dyed further.

Thanks for your advice.

Image

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:44 am
by Frances Perry
Bumpety-Bump

Can no-one help me with this?

:cry:

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:04 pm
by Skevmeister
Frances, I'd PM Gregory23B and Sally as they would have a much better idea

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:24 pm
by sally
My gut feeling based on how the colour looks onscreen is that its a bit turqoise whearas most blues if they are woad/indigotin based are more 'blue jeans' in character when when they are a very clean clear blue, however, it is possible to get slightly more turquoisy shades, and it would really need to be compared to some natural dye swatches to make a complete decision one way or another. I would tend towards the not quite verdict, but that may be different in the flesh and daylight

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:47 pm
by Frances Perry
Thank you Sally!

:P

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:02 pm
by Colin Middleton
It always blows me away that colours that bright are corect! I know that there was a lot more variety of colour than we normally consider, but its so easy to forget just HOW good a colour could be produced.

Colin

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:21 pm
by Sophia
The problem was never obtaining a bright colour but the fastness of a colour. Many natural dyes start out very bright but will fade over time with exposure to light and washing.

Even modern dyes will fade over time, but not as fast. It was not unusual for garments to be overdyed to pep them up after a time.

Also they would dismantle them and turn the panels to reveal the side of the fabric which had not faded or worn and put them back together. This practice was still followed until the late 50's by my grandmother, who would turn our coats for my mum.

Sophia :D

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:59 pm
by Skevmeister
Frances, why don't you pop along to the NHLF and see the lovely Sally with a swatch and you can then peruse her lovely soaps and Gareths lovely craftsman ship as well (oh and you can buy some of there books 'cos Gareths books on what to do with the squiggly bits of animals is good)

(Undisguised Plug there)

Skev

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:06 pm
by Annie the Pedlar
The Kentwell dyers got absolutely fed up with people saying their dyes should be dull so one year their mission was to get bright colours out of Tudorly available natural dye stuff. They made clothes/costumes out of the results. Years later they are still wearing them and are still positively dayglo!
Granted they wear them for weeks at a time not years.
The best colours were yellow, orange and lime green if you are interested. They would have had blue but they probably only had woad by the bucketful not the shedload that year.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:11 pm
by Annie the Pedlar
Frances - if you find you are getting that question asked a lot Pheobe (you can get to her through Kate Tiler and you can get to her through http://www.tudormarket.co.uk ) has made (and sells) naturally dyed colour swatch cards like what you get for Dulux paint but with material.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:10 pm
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
Best way to get woad is to grow it yourself. Which you can't plant til March-April, and won't get enough leaves til say mid summer.

But indigo is chemically identical and natural indigo (with the other things you need to extract the colour) is available.

If in doubt, you could always overdye with indigo. Even a forensic scientist analysing it wouldn't know the difference!

You can get natural dyes from:

www.fibrecrafts.com

I've been dyeing for years and all my dyes are hideous poke your eyes out colours. Only a bad dyer gets sludgy khakis and boring colours.

One thing intrigued me for years is look at yer average medieval painting you see loads of people in Barbie pink. Really vivid bright Barbie pink.

When cloth samples from the medieval period have been analysed, the overwhelming dyestuff found is madder. I can get a nice red from that but not pink. The only way I have got an identical pink is using lichen - which is a much more complex process. (I suspect 'orchil' was used).

But yes, the brighter the better. Another interesting experiment would be to overdye that with madder. Or weld.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:36 pm
by Annie the Pedlar
You can sow woad late summer early autumn. That's when it seeds naturally. Done it, been there, got the T shirt - then we had to move and I lost that 3rd of an acre garden. Boo hoo hoo.

The one I've never managed to grow is weld - which is daft as its a weed.

Madder is so sweet - as a plant - but you have to wait 3 years for the roots to get fat.

People moan about the wishy washy nature of woad but you can get strong colour from it. Its just that where you would use one leaf of weld or a teaspoon of Fibrecrafts dried stuff you need to use carrierbag fulls of woad.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:54 pm
by gregory23b
Skev, not my province hence me staying out of it.

I only use dyes as paints so can't comment on what you might get when actually using them as dyes, that's real knowledge that is.

But as the Vicontesse has raised the issue re paint:

"One thing intrigued me for years is look at yer average medieval painting you see loads of people in Barbie pink. Really vivid bright Barbie pink. "

If you are talking manuscripts then they may well be using kermes lakes (amongst other things), very popular as as a transparent colour on MSS, but you can also get a 'rose' colour, ie a sickly barbie pink with brazil, but it is the dye that has been either:

soaked into finely ground lead white

or reacted with chalk. It is really easy to make, but it is not a dye as the agents have recombined into a suspension.

Also you cannot really rely on pictorial resources for very much, as you say the common colours seem to be lacking in paintings, some reasons include:

Paintings are not about real life

Bright paintings are more cheerful and are what are being paid for.

The pigments used in paintings are more often than not, not dyes.

It is cheap to portray peasants in bright expensive red hose in a painting, less so in real life.

Ironically though in MSS the very dyes the peasants can't afford in real life are being used in paintings of them, but the quantities are the key.

And of course dyes used as paints suffer similar issues as they on cloth:
Light fastness, colour fastness and how inert or reactive they may be with the substrate. In book illustration lakes are ok as they don't get much daylight, but are not recommended for exterior or highly exposed works. But some substrates' pH values affect the lakes too, acidic substrates veer reds to very red and alkaline veer them to the blue. So what goes on the paper may well be different to what went on the brush.


-----


Frances, I second Annie's recommendation re getting a colour swatch, very useful indeed.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:59 pm
by guthrie
It does look rather like a colour I am sure I have seen on Dave Rushworths stall, hence it is probably authentic enough, seeing as mr Rushworth gets his wool dyed to match authentic colours.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:42 pm
by gregory23b
Whilst not being a dyer the principle of when a colour is around at a given time should be considered, this is certainly the case in painting when new sources of colours are found and also not all sources were used in the same way at the same time. Eg Madder was a dyestuff well before it was considered for a paint, it features quite late in european painting, but is really common much later.

Asking the dyers here:

have any of you made blues other than with woad or indigo? I have a fifteenth century recipe for dyeing thread blue, presumably a version of the Cologne Blue thread, which does not use either of those ingredients.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:55 pm
by sally
I made a blue dye with heartsease once, but it faded very quickly, I've also made lichen blue, but its photsensitive. I've seen references to blues made with other things too, though the specifics elude me at the moment, but havent tried them

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:53 am
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
I'd be interested to see that recipe, Gregory.

Yes, other things may give a kind of blue, (not a true optical blue, but a rough approximation) but are fugitive/light sensitive. True blues are the rarest colours in nature, for the dyer.

Wondering if anyone in the past experimented with pigments, as opposed to dyes? here's nothing else I can think of, without indigotin, that would give a blue. If there was, it would have been widely used and known about.

Woad and indigo may be chemically the same, but woad is definitely faster than indigo.

I sow woad in spring because you can 'cut and come again' for the space of an entire growing season - you get 3 or 4 crops off the plants, whereas if you plant back end of the year, it dies back fast and then in spring is straight into the flowering stage when you no longer get blue).

If some self seeds, I don't mind too much.

Seeds from: www.suffolkherbs.com

If your friend has never dyed before though, I suggest she overdyes it with something easier, to change the colour entirely, as the woad and indigo vats are fermenting processes - not simple as boiling up. Weld is very straightforward and foolproof.

:D

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 2:27 am
by Tuppence
It does look rather like a colour I am sure I have seen on Dave Rushworths stall, hence it is probably authentic enough, seeing as mr Rushworth gets his wool dyed to match authentic colours.


that's not what one of our mutual suppliers says :lol:

the colour looks ok to me - a bit too turquoisy maybe, but who knows what colours could be achieved when you mess about with what you put into dyebaths etc. also it's quite similar to something I saw on a textile at the v&a - although that was quite a lot lighter, which might have been due to fading.

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 9:46 am
by DeviantShrub
ViscontesseD'Asbeau wrote:One thing intrigued me for years is look at yer average medieval painting you see loads of people in Barbie pink. Really vivid bright Barbie pink.


If my memory serves me right, I saw a really lurid pink dyed with woad (something having clearly gone very wrong) in the hands of John Edmonds at COAM... about 13 years ago. He was giving the scrap of cloth away to an iron age reenactor at the time. I imagine there must be a note on it somewhere or other?

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:05 pm
by Frances Perry
Thanks very much everyone - a lot to digest and transfer back to my colleague - I'm sure he will consider what to do with the cloth as he is making a doublet.

Glad to hear that bright colours are not frowned upon - I am in the process of making an orangy-red over-kirtle for summer events and was a little worried about whether it was too bright or not. Still, it can always be dyed if not - thanks for the link to the natural dyes page - very useful!

Cheers , Fran :D

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:09 pm
by gregory23b
"Glad to hear that bright colours are not frowned upon "

Not so much that as which bright colours, I think the others will agree to that.

Yet there is an assumption that everything was brown....

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:15 pm
by sally
DeviantShrub wrote:
ViscontesseD'Asbeau wrote:One thing intrigued me for years is look at yer average medieval painting you see loads of people in Barbie pink. Really vivid bright Barbie pink.


If my memory serves me right, I saw a really lurid pink dyed with woad (something having clearly gone very wrong) in the hands of John Edmonds at COAM... about 13 years ago. He was giving the scrap of cloth away to an iron age reenactor at the time. I imagine there must be a note on it somewhere or other?


That one is easy, once you have squeezed the woad liquor out before fermenting, you boil the leaves and you get pink as a secondary dye. Its quite a pretty colour too. Dunno if we have any examples of it being used histroically that way or not- I suspect because most woad was couched (fermented in the leaf) it didnt happen and is a byproduct of more modern extraction methods

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:42 pm
by Colin Middleton
ViscontesseD'Asbeau wrote:Best way to get woad is to grow it yourself. Which you can't plant til March-April, and won't get enough leaves til say mid summer.


Be carful with planting wode. My wife put some in the front beds and changed her mind after it grew over 4 feet tall. She ripped it all out about 4 years back. And again about 2 years back. It can be a little persistant.

I also understand that it can be a bit smelly to work with.

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 5:14 pm
by sally
Colin Middleton wrote:
ViscontesseD'Asbeau wrote:Best way to get woad is to grow it yourself. Which you can't plant til March-April, and won't get enough leaves til say mid summer.


Be carful with planting wode. My wife put some in the front beds and changed her mind after it grew over 4 feet tall. She ripped it all out about 4 years back. And again about 2 years back. It can be a little persistant.

I also understand that it can be a bit smelly to work with.


I plant mine in the autumn sometimes, but must confess there is no woad only weeds in my plot at the moment :oops: Its very smelly if you ferment with urine in the traditional way, but you can also extract the colour using washing soda and a de-oxegynating chemical for a fast, pong free, modern version that gives the same colour and is very useful for small projects.

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 5:32 pm
by Tuppence
Yet there is an assumption that everything was brown....


Not true - there was grey as well

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 5:47 pm
by sally
I'm often a bit torn, because on one hand as a dyer I know damn well we can have a huge range of colours, and yet I also feel we underrepresent good natural fleece shades. I've seen some stonking kit done all in natural undyed wool, and it makes me envious as anything. All those shades of cream, brown, silvery greys and russet and tawny, nigh on black with little kempy white fibres, soft snowy white, almost golden shades from some sheep, its all too delectable for words and to see a 'peasant' outfit executed in beautiful fabric, well finished, in a good range of natural shades is a real joy. So yeah, bright is beautiful, but so is brown, if its chosen well and used appropriately.

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:55 pm
by Tuppence
oh, absolutely - there are far more colours in undyed fleece once you actually look at them.

but film makers still insist on the 'it's historical it must be brown and grey'.

although admittedly a better argument than the one used when conquest's kit was rejected en masse for a certain production - you're knights, you should all be wearing black.....

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:16 am
by Wiblick
sally wrote:I'm often a bit torn, because on one hand as a dyer I know damn well we can have a huge range of colours, and yet I also feel we underrepresent good natural fleece shades. .


I'd love to get my hands on some natural fleece fabric. Do you know of any suppliers?

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:25 am
by sally
Wiblick wrote:
sally wrote:I'm often a bit torn, because on one hand as a dyer I know damn well we can have a huge range of colours, and yet I also feel we underrepresent good natural fleece shades. .


I'd love to get my hands on some natural fleece fabric. Do you know of any suppliers?


Doesnt Stuart Peachey usually have some at the NLHF or am I imagining that?

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:30 am
by Wiblick
Thanks will contact him. Won't be at NLHF but I think he was at Bosworth or Blore last year so might catch up with him at one of those this year.