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Books - Natural Dyeing

The Colourful Past - The Origins, Chemistry and Identification of Natural Dyestuffs
by Judith H Hoefenk de Graaff

This publication is intended to provide a quick overview of well-known dyestuffs that can be found in objects of cultural value in order to contribute to the knowledge of historic textiles and their preservation. Aimed mainly at conservators, conservation students, curators and textile historians, the book presents information on the most relevant dyestuffs used for dyeing textiles, and the relation between dyestuffs and organic pigments in paintings and their historical relevance. Emphasis is placed on the combination of historical, technical and scientific knowledge and the way it can be used for the benefit of the conservation of historic textiles.

Until the early 1980s the identification of natural dyestuffs was developed and carried out using thin-layer chromatography (TLC) but the development of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) opened up greater possibilities and over the past 30 years hundreds of historic textiles have been investigated using this technique. From many investigations carried out for individual museums and institutions, the author has chosen a number of case studies to illustrate both the possibilities and limitations of dyestuff analysis.

Debbie says: "Primarily a reference book (although it has some beautiful colour illustrations), this book looks firstly at the science of natural dyes and their identification. Chapters follow that divide a wide range of historical dyestuffs by colour. Each dyestuff (and there are some interesting dyestuffs rarely found in other titles) is then comprehensively but concisely evaluated at a level which is straightforward to understand but detailed enough to be of real value to dyers who are keen to go beyond the basics and really get to the heart of how and why natural dyestuffs work.

Dyestuffs are identified by their common, historical and scientific names, chemical composition is illustrated and a brief explanation of the science behind how the dyestuff works is given. The source of each dyestuff and its historical use, together with fascinating historical recipes and dyeing methods, lightfastness and lots of other useful information is also provided. There are lots of good references for further information.

This is an excellent book that has enough detail to be meaningful but isn't so technical as to require a doctorate in Chemistry!"

Hardback, 408 pages, 68 colour illustrations

Price: £65.00 [item code BK017]

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The Colourful Past by Judith H Hoefenk de Graaff

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[All images and text © Debbie Tomkies and Peter Tomkies 2010]