Cotton Textile History--printing, dyeing, manufacturing and trading.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Dyes vs Pigments
Natural dyes from the Middle Ages used to color a variety of
textiles were largely derived from vegetables. Some of the most popular were weld
(Reseda luteola) which produces a
yellow, madder (Rubia tinctoria) can
give tints and shades from pale pink/peach to reds/purples to near black and
Indigo (Indigofera) and Woad (Isatis tinctoria) for blues. New World
contributions were Cochineal, brazil and log woods plus Quercitron. Textiles were dipped into vats containing
these dyes. The coloring agent adhered to both sides of the goods with a weaker
color often on the backside.
Back of Indigo dyed fabric
The only dye with affinity for cotton is Indigo. All the
others had to be fixed onto the fabric with mordants. These metallic salts were
printed or painted onto the ground cloth which was then processed in a dye
bath. The mordant (alum and iron were the most popular) ‘bit’ both the dye
stuff and the cotton fibers to form a stable bond.
The early 19th century mineral colors (Prussian
blue, manganese bronze and the chromes…yellow, orange and green) were often
printed on cotton textiles as insoluble pigments.A binder was necessary to enclose and then attach
the pigment to the cloth. Albumen from either eggs or blood was used during the
19th century as a textile pigment binder. Pigments sit on top side of the
fabric and give a pale beige or taupe color to the back side.
The first synthetic fabric dye was discovered in coal tar
residue in 1856…mauveine. Some of the
early synthetics were printed on cotton as pigments until the discovery tannin
mordants. Other aniline dyes followed in 1869 for alizarin (the coloring agent
in madder) then in the early 1890s a good aniline black and finally in 1897
artificial indigo. A version of this is still used today to dye our beloved
Print pastes incorporating pigments into an emulsion were used
for fabric printing during most of the 20th century. Today many of the printed
fabrics in the quilt marketplace use fiber
reactive dyes with occasional details provided by pigments.
Dargate Treasury by Andover Fabrics
Dargate Treasury due late April/May Shop owners please contact your salesperson. They should receive the sample cards this week!