Sunday, April 29, 2012

Two blues and two greens

These are samples from the Dargate c. 1830.

Classic blue/white indigo designs could be printed by resist or discharge at this time.  These more colorful designs required a few extra steps!

In the first example, a resist paste was applied to the design area before the first dye bath. If the resist is removed from a part of the leaf and the yardage re would have a pale blue leaf where the resist was removed on the dark indigo background. If you remove more of the resist paste from the leaves and re dye again...'two blue' leaves on a dark background.

Now if you remove more resist from the tips of the 'to be green leaves' and add a protective resist over the leaves you want to remain '2 blues' and then process in a yellow dye wll also get leaves with 'two greens' and yellow tips. Because I can see the back of the fabric in the above example, I think the white was added in the final stage by discharge because the registration is perfect and the white area shows clearly on the back.

This second example required fewer steps. A resist paste was printed for the entire frond including berries at the base of the stem and the fabric is dyed in an indigo dye bath. Removing the leaf/stem resist for a second run through the indigo bath will give you a two blue design. If you now cover the right hand side of the frond with resist paste and dye the fabric yellow, you will have blue and green leaves with yellow stems.

Because once again I can see the back of the sample, I think the berries were also printed with resist initially. The final step would have been to remove that resist...revealing mainly white berries. These berries do not show through on the back of the fabric.

Because of the numerous steps required for these polychrome indigos, they were much more expensive than the basic blue/white indigo prints of the times.

Today was a Montana beautiful morning walking the dog. It was warm enough (45 degrees) for just a sweatshirt. The sun was shining, the sky a cornflower blue and the 4 surrounding mountain ranges plus the Horseshoe Hills to the northwest were all snow covered. Belle was more impressed with the dogs in the lease free area of Peet's Hill.


  1. Both of those fabrics are very beautiful. That book of yours is such a treasure. I am looking forward to more reproductions from you. (soon, I hope - fingers crossed!)

  2. Though I do not really understand the resist dye process, I do find it interesting. I think I need to read up on 19th century textiles. Both fabrics are beautiful.