Thursday, November 15, 2007

Playing with Dyes -- Safflower and Saffron

And now is the time on RH when we dye!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I believe this German lady's riding doublet was dyed with safflower. I have not seen the doublet in person (or even any colour photographs), but from Arnold's description of "tannish red faded from a deep peach", it sounds like safflower to me. The dye in safflower is very light sensitive. When exposed to daylight, the red fades to a tan.

The description of the original colour as "peach" also points to safflower. While considered a red dye, safflower actually has two dyes in it -- red and yellow. The red dye reacts with vegetable as well as animal fibres, where the yellow dye will only remain on animal fibres. When you dye cotton or linen with safflower, it looks orange to begin, but when you rinse it, all the yellow dye washes off and leaves nothing but a pure pink behind. A friend described it as "You've made Barbie pink!" On silk, the results are quite different. Both the red and yellow dyes react with the fibre, producing a peach to orange colour.

You can see the results of a silk coat I dyed in this article. The exterior is silk and the lining linen.

Experiments I've done with safflower on silk and linen can be found here:

Saffron, by contrast, produces a clear, bright yellow colour, not the orange we typical think of when speaking of a monk's "safffron robes". This clear yellow colour is the same on linen and silk. To read about my experiments with saffron, read this:

To construct this doublet, I am going to use six materials:

© 2007 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

No comments: