Monday, April 09, 2007

Book Notes: Natural Dyeing

A Dyer's Garden, Rita Buchanan: This book focuses mainly on the home growing and use of dye plants. There is even a section devoted to the layout of the home dye garden. General mordanting and dye bath info is given at the beginning of the book. In the "Portfolio of Dye Plants" which follows, two pages are devoted to each dye plant. For each plant, 4-10 color photos illustrate the results obtained with various mordants on different fibers. The instructions for using different plants are not in traditional recipe form. Instead, Buchanan indicates how much plant material is generally required for a given amount of fiber ("flowers from 8 plants," etc). This fits in with Buchanan's emphasis on diversity of color over reproducibility, but it could be troublesome for users of purchased dyestuffs. In short, this book is nice to look at, easy to use, and appears to contain highly useful information for dyer/gardeners.
I'll be buying this book right after I buy a house :)

The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, J.N. Liles: This book is geared more toward precise recipes and reproducability. It does not discuss the growing of dye plants, but is aimed at those using purchased dyestuffs. The recipes are organized by color instead of by plant, with some interesting discussion of historical colors (the author is involved in historical reenactments). A few color plates are relegated to the middle of the book. Getting an idea of the finished product for a given recipe required a lot of hunting around and digging through captions. I did appreciate the historical and biochemical information given for many of the plant dyes, though. Although this book was less enjoyable to leaf through than Buchanan's book, it seems very well-researched and practical.

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