Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ubiquitous Double Pinks

Small calico prints in 2 or 3 shades of pink or purple (double pinks/double purples) have been a perennial favorite of the textile industry for over 250 years. The early printing of such fabric was accomplished with mordants and a madder dye bath.

Before dyeing, the mordant, a colorless substance, was applied to the cloth by hand painting (the usual method for the calicos and chintzes produced in India in the 17th/18th century), woodblock printing or copper plate/roller technique. By altering the strength of the mordant, a lively 'double print' was achieved.

An alum mordant gave prints with shades of deep red through pale rose pink while prints from an iron mordant varied from almost black to lilac with all the shades in between. Once printed, the fabric was then processed in a madder dye bath to bring out the colors. A mixture of the mordants will give a brown print. Note double violets in the above block....seconds?

 These are 4 patches from another block.

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