Saturday, June 6, 2020

Natural Dyes[1-5]
One Hundredth Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Our One Hundredth "Art Resource" Post!
This is the one hundredth post in the "Art Resource" series, specifically aimed to construct an appropriate knowledge base in order to develop an artistic voice in ArtCloth.

The first Art Resource - Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms - was published on Saturday, March 3, 2012 on my Art Quill Studio blogspot. Since that time a new Art Resource post has been compiled and and published on a monthly basis, namely on the first Saturday of each month (except for January due to the Christmas break).

I would like to thank my husband, Dr Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki and CEO of Art Quill & Co Pty Ltd to which Art Quill Studio is its educational sub-division, for his support and tireless hard work in formatting each post in HTML and for ensuring there are no software conflicts. He is an inspiration for me to continue to blog.

Other posts in this series are:
Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms
Units Used in Dyeing and Printing of Fabrics
Occupational, Health & Safety
A Brief History of Color
The Nature of Color
Psychology of Color
Color Schemes
The Naming of Colors
The Munsell Color Classification System
Methuen Color Index and Classification System
The CIE System
Pantone - A Modern Color Classification System
Optical Properties of Fiber Materials
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part I
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part II
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part III
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part IV
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part V
Protein Fibers - Wool
Protein Fibers - Speciality Hair Fibers
Protein Fibers - Silk
Protein Fibers - Wool versus Silk
Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Cotton
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Linen
Other Natural Cellulosic Fibers
General Overview of Man-Made Fibers
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Viscose
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Esters
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Nylon
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Polyester
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Acrylic and Modacrylic
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Olefins
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Elastomers
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Mineral Fibers
Man Made Fibers - Other Textile Fibers
Fiber Blends
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part I
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part II
Melt-Spun Fibers
Characteristics of Filament Yarn
Yarn Classification
Direct Spun Yarns
Textured Filament Yarns
Fabric Construction - Felt
Fabric Construction - Nonwoven fabrics
A Fashion Data Base
Fabric Construction - Leather
Fabric Construction - Films
Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins
Fabric Construction – Foams and Poromeric Material
Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns
Weaving and the Loom
Similarities and Differences in Woven Fabrics
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part I)
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part II)
The Three Basic Weaves - Twill Weave
The Three Basic Weaves - Satin Weave
Figured Weaves - Leno Weave
Figured Weaves – Piqué Weave
Figured Fabrics
Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements
Crêpe Fabrics
Crêpe Effect Fabrics
Pile Fabrics - General
Woven Pile Fabrics
Chenille Yarn and Tufted Pile Fabrics
Knit-Pile Fabrics
Flocked Pile Fabrics and Other Pile Construction Processes
Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms
Napped Fabrics – Part I
Napped Fabrics – Part II
Double Cloth
Multicomponent Fabrics
Knit-Sew or Stitch Through Fabrics
Finishes - Overview
Finishes - Initial Fabric Cleaning
Mechanical Finishes - Part I
Mechanical Finishes - Part II
Additive Finishes
Chemical Finishes - Bleaching
Glossary of Scientific Terms
Chemical Finishes - Acid Finishes
Finishes: Mercerization
Finishes: Waterproof and Water-Repellent Fabrics
Finishes: Flame-Proofed Fabrics
Finishes to Prevent Attack by Insects and Micro-Organisms
Other Finishes
Shrinkage - Part I
Shrinkage - Part II
Progressive Shrinkage and Methods of Control
Durable Press and Wash-and-Wear Finishes - Part I
Durable Press and Wash-and-Wear Finishes - Part II
Durable Press and Wash-and-Wear Finishes - Part III
Durable Press and Wash-and-Wear Finishes - Part IV
Durable Press and Wash-and-Wear Finishes - Part V
The General Theory of Dyeing – Part I
The General Theory Of Dyeing - Part II
Natural Dyes
Natural Dyes - Indigo
Mordant Dyes
Premetallized Dyes
Azoic Dyes
Basic Dyes

There are currently eight data bases on this blogspot, namely, the Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms, Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff, A Fashion Data Base, the Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins, the Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns, Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements, Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms and the Glossary of Scientific Terms, which has been updated to Version 3.5. All data bases will be updated from time-to-time in the future.

If you find any post on this blog site useful, you can save it or copy and paste it into your own "Word" document etc. for your future reference. For example, Safari allows you to save a post (e.g. click on "File", click on "Print" and release, click on "PDF" and then click on "Save As" and release - and a PDF should appear where you have stored it). Safari also allows you to mail a post to a friend (click on "File", and then point cursor to "Mail Contents On This Page" and release). Either way, this or other posts on this site may be a useful Art Resource for you.

The Art Resource series will be the first post in each calendar month. Remember - these Art Resource posts span information that will be useful for a home hobbyist to that required by a final year University Fine-Art student and so undoubtedly, some parts of any Art Resource post may appear far too technical for your needs (skip over those mind boggling parts) and in other parts, it may be too simplistic with respect to your level of knowledge (ditto the skip). The trade-off between these two extremes will mean that Art Resource posts will hopefully be useful in parts to most, but unfortunately may not be satisfying to all!

Dyes have been used to color fabric since the second millennium B.C. (if not before). Natural dyes were used and these fall into two classifications: substantive and adjective dyes.

Substantive dyes do not require a mordant to be color-fast (i.e. to fix a color to the fabric). Such dyes were extracted from certain lichens, the bark and heartwood of trees etc. Perhaps the most important is indigo, which was extracted from the indigo shrub (Indigofera tinctoria).

Oak - No mordant required. Dye obtained from Oak is a substantive dye.
Courtesy reference [1].

Juniper. Dye obtained from Juniper is a substantive dye.
Courtesy of reference [1].

Madder (Rubia peregrina). Dye obtained from Madder is a substantive dye.
Courtesy reference [1].

For all fibers, the dyeing process is essentially the same: the fiber is immersed in a liquid that contains the dye; the dye molecule infuses into the amorphous region of the fiber, where it adheres to the fiber. Note: The amorphous region of the fiber means the unstructured region of the fiber.

Wool Fleece - "The Natural Knitter by B. Albright".

The use of mordants - even with substantive dyes that do not require them - greatly increases the range of colors that can be obtained.

Walnut: (1) Shrub and husks - no mordant; (2) Shrub and husks with alum mordant.
Courtesy reference [1].

Bonding Mechanisms To Fast Natural Dyes
There are number of different bonding mechanisms that make the dye molecule stick or cohere with the fiber polymer system. To begin with the crystalline regions of the fiber polymer systems are generally too small to allow water or dye molecules entry into these regions (even after heating).

The amorphous regions are unstructured and the voids in this region are large and get larger on heating, thereby allowing entry of the dye molecules into these regions.

Overall schematic of the fiber polymer system.
Note: The heavy well aligned lines are the crystalline regions. The amorphous regions are unstructured and have large gaps between individual disorganized polymer units.
Courtesy reference [2].

Magnification of the regular orientation of the crystalline region.
Note: The gas or voids in these regions are usually too small to allow entry by water and dye molecules.
Courtesy reference [2].

Magnification of the amorphous region of the fiber polymer system.
Note: The large voids get larger on heating and shrink on cooling.
Courtesy reference [2].

Once the fiber cools, these voids close-up, trapping and entangling the dye molecules in this region. Here they are mostly held by weak van der Waals forces of attraction and hydrogen bonding. Whilst these are weak forces, they nevertheless fix the dye molecules into the fiber polymer system, and together with the smallness of the voids, entrapping the dye molecules, assures that the fiber is color-fast.

Dye molecules trapped and entangled in the voids of the polymer fiber system.
Courtesy reference [2].

Hydrogen bonding between the polymer unit of a cellulosic fiber.
Note: Water (H2O) is a polar molecule and so its polarity is attracted to the polar group on the fiber polymer backbone (and in this case it is a glucose unit - sugar). The hydrogen bonds are indicated by the dotted lines and shaded areas that connect the glucose unit with the water (H2O) molecule.
Courtesy reference [2].

Extracting Natural Dyes
A typical recipe for extracting dye from the lichen umbilicaria species known to occur along the Atlantic coast, in north-central USA and along the shores of Lakes Superior and Michigan is as follows [2]:
(a) Four cups of dry umbilicaria. This measurement must be taken after the lichen was crushed by hand or if a blender was used to grind it finer, the measurement must be made before the use of the blender.
(b) Two cups of liquid household ammonia.
(c) Two to four cups of water.
(d) Place the lichen, water and ammonia in a large plastic container.
(e) Stir the mixture vigorously for five minutes until you note that all lichen particles are wet and then cover the container with a smug fitting lid.
The tight fitting lid ensures that none of the dissolved oxygen obtained by the vigorous stirring action will escape the container.
(f) Place the fermentation container in a warm, dark place.
(g) The bath must be stirred vigorously at least twice a day – if not more.
(h) The temperature of the bath cannot fall below 15oC or above 33oC.
(i) If the initial dark brown does not turn into a red within a week, add more liquid ammonia.

Color of dye obtained from lichen (Lecanora tartarea).
Courtesy reference [1].

Some natural dyers think that they are not using mordants, but when they are using “hard water” they are unwittingly incorporating mordants into their recipe, since "hard water" contains mineral salts some of which act as mordants.

Adjective dyes require a mordant in order to be color-fast. Generally, the problem with adjective dyes was that they were small in size and so could easily move in and out of the fiber. The metal salt in solution freed the metal ions, the latter of which attached to the dye molecule due to their chemical affinity. This resulted in a large metal complex, which was unable to move out of the voids of the fiber. Hence the metal complex (now a dye in its own right) was trapped and bonded to the fiber molecules inside the amorphous region, resulting in a wash fast dyeing process.

A typical recipe to obtain an adjective dye extracted from Burdock (a prickly weed) is as follows[2].
(a) Use the large leaves (ca. 30 cm) of this plant from the first year growth.
(b) Shred, tear or chop and cover with boiling water.
Keep the dye bath below a simmer (95oC) in order to extract the dye.
(c) Let this mixture sit a day or so in a warm spot and stir occasionally.

Colors that can be obtained from Burdock using various mordants: yellow (alum), strong yellow (tin), yellow-green (alum and iron), and tan (vinegar). Note: The mordants are in brackets.

Below are colors obtained from an elder plant.

Elder: (1) Leaves with alum mordant; (2) Bark with iron mordant; (3) Berries - no mordant; (4) Berries with alum mordant and salt; (5) Berries with alum mordant alone.
Courtesy reference [1].

Properties of Natural Dyes
It can be said that all plant-dyed fibers fade to some degree. What is generally not said is so can most commercially dyed fibers. If polyester cotton can fade in ten hours of sunlight, so will your plant-dyed fibers. However, in the latter case the sunlight fading is more-or-less a mellowing process; that is, a yellow-green may change to an avocado; a strong rust to a burnt orange; gold may become ochre. The 1960s refrain - "Go with the flow" - is good advice when using natural dyes, since it embraces a greater understanding of what is possible rather than trying to slavishly control what is sometimes an uncontrolled natural process.

Generally light fastness is characterized as follows:
Rating Number                                                    Description

1                                                                        Very Poor Light-Fastness
2                                                                        Poor
3                                                                        Moderate
4                                                                        Fair
5                                                                        Good
6                                                                        Very Good
7                                                                        Excellent
8                                                                        Maximum Light-Fastness 
                                             (textile material may break down before color begins to fade)

Wash-fastness is defined in terms of fastness to laundering of colors of dyed or printed textile materials and is rated between 1-5.
Rating Number                                                   Description
1                                                                       Very poor wash-fastness
2                                                                       Poor
3                                                                       Moderate
3-4                                                                    Fair
4                                                                      Good
4-5                                                                   Very Good
5                                                                      Excellent, or no fading at all

However, most natural dyers combine these ratings (as well as fastness to rubbing) to give an overall rating of fastness. For example, the use of blueberries as a dye would be described in the following terms[2]:

(a) Parts Used: Very ripe fresh berries; mush remaining after jelly making. Leaves of both blueberries (Vaccinium) and huckleberries (Gaylussacia).
(b) Processing: When dyeing with all berries, add sugar to the bath to improve fastness. Vinegar my also be added, but the resulting colors may grey somewhat. Process berries as for berries, and leaves as for leaves.
(c) Colors Obtained: Berries are fine sources of yellow and yellow-green. The leaves give a yellow with alum, and yellow-green with blue vitriol and iron. From the fruit you can get pink, purple, and blue-grey from huckleberry on white acrylic fiber without mordants.
(d) Fastness: Shades from the leaves are excellent in fastness; the pinks and purples seem to vary, and the tan and grey were quite fast.

[1] Editors A. Jeffs and W. Martensson, and P. North, Creative Crafts Encyclopedia, Equinox (Oxford) Ltd., Oxford (1977).
[2] A. Fritz and J. Cant, Consumer Textiles, Oxford University Press, Melbourne (1986).
[3] K.L. Casselman, Craft of the Dyer: Colour From Plants and Lichens of the Northeast, University of Toronto Press, Toronto (1980).
[4] P. Lambert, B. Staelelaere, Color and Fiber, Schiffer Publishing Co, West Chester (1986).
[5] E.P.G. Gohl and L.D. Vilensky, Textile Science, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne (1989).

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