Dying Silk

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Colin Middleton
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Dying Silk

Post by Colin Middleton »

I've bought some nice white silk which I'm looking to dye a good bright red in order to make a coat armour (i.e. the thing over your armour with your heraldry on it) for late 15th C. A friend's offered to do the painting of the design, but I first need to colour the ground. Can anyone recomend a good product to dye silk that gives a decent colour and doesn't fade/run badly?

Many thanks
Colin

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Colin Middleton
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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Colin Middleton »

I don't mind, so long as it looks the part.

I'll only be wearing it on the battlefield, but I do want it to look nice and bright. It's a little tricky to know where to draw the line between looks good and 'they didn't have reds that bright'.

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gregory23b
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Re: Dying Silk

Post by gregory23b »

Brazil wood.

Easy to dye silk with that, it is not too bad, but wont last forever in the sun. Nice and bright.


'they didn't have reds that bright'

Oh yes they did ;-)

http://livinghistory.co.uk/forums/downl ... &mode=view


ignore the stains, they are from water marks when I was gilding the test piece, you should be able to achieve a nice warm cherry red.

But, make sure that when you make the dye liquor that you allow it to settle and strain it off before dyeing your silk, otherwise you may end up with minute wood chips in the weave and that is not nice.

Brazil wood smells nice as well, very sweet.

Also either have neutral ph water or slightly acidic, alkaline water will affect your red to the blue, ie less intense red.

I am not a dyer, nor purporting to be so, but dyeing the odd bit of silk is part of my painted/gilded textiles remit, using recipes form the time, so take the above as you will.

enjoy.
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Post by frances »

You will have to decide whether to dye it red before or after painting - so then you have to decide what to paint it with.

If you paint before dyeing your colours will be painted onto a white background and so will end up looking nice and crisp and clean. Some colours (all depending) if painted on the red background will end up looking muddy.

What sort of paint does your friend have in mind?

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gregory23b
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Re: Dying Silk

Post by gregory23b »

May I suggest you either:

applique - lovely effect and very in keeping with a rich man.

paint over the dye, each element can be roughed out in white then coloured.

As Frances asks, what kind of paint are they thinking of using, thenti or modern acrylics?
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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Colin Middleton »

My plan was to dye the silk to give us a ground to work on, then to paint the designs onto it. As it's for John Howard, It's mostly white, but has lots of small 'parts' to it, so will be easier to paint. I think that the paints will be acrylic, but I'm not certain.
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Re: Dying Silk

Post by gregory23b »

Just to note that painting is the very much cheaper relative of textile work, you might want to consider that if you are representing Howard, he was one of the wealthiest men in the country.

You can of course combine the two, applique for the main elements, hatching or outlining for the rest.

If acrylics then make sure that they are not slathered on but small neat brush strokes, I would still recommend a white ground for the paint to be applied to. Also check out an appropriate colour palette for the paints, as we can have any colour today, not necessarily the case then.
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Colin Middleton
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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Colin Middleton »

I know. My coat for 'day wear' is appliqued and embroidered, but as this is to be worn between my armour and the things hitting it, I don't want to best of the best. Also, I only plan to wear this in battles (I can't afford to play a duke in an LH setting), so it'll not be subject to that close a scrutiny.

What makes you thinkg the JH was 'one of the wealthiest men in the country'?

Certainly when he was just Baron de Howard, he was one of the wealthyest men of his STATION, but by 1485, he's just been elevated to Duke 18 months earlier, the holding have been split between him and Berkley and the previous duke, Mowbray, was notorious for his poverty. My personal suspicion (no solid evidence either way yet) is that in terms of being a duke, Howard was probably not too well off by his death, though I have no doubts that he would have been if he'd lived another 10 years or so (assuming that he wasn't attainedered, obviously).

Like I said, this is just a guess, but if you have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to know more details.

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Colin

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Re: Dying Silk

Post by gregory23b »

Ok not one of the wealthiest, but a Duke nevertheless, all ranks come with an expectation of expense. I imagine that he did not use hand me downs or regrated clothes.

I see where you are coming from re the battlegear, makes sense.
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Honourius III
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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Honourius III »

Hi I am the friend who is painting the cote for Colin, the paint I will be using will be Acrilic with a polimer to make it more flexable.

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Re: Dying Silk

Post by gregory23b »

Great.
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Colin Middleton
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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Colin Middleton »

I've had a dig around and found some Brazil Wood ready for dying with. Any tips on how I use it? How much I need for a given quantity of silk, etc?

Many thanks
Colin

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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Hon_Kitty »

Colin - short answer is "yes" I do know how to use Brazil Wood
(hey I'm not Medhuil Webbestre for nothing, tinkering with textiles is my thing.... :D )

Before I go home and poke about in me Book of Words, had you given any thought to what you were going to use as a mordant? (Alum will probably give you the best ie brightest result but it might not be the exact colour you want?)
And second thing, (deep breath) have you already washed your silk? Because if you haven't, there's a chance it might shrink in the dyepot if you're simmering it for any length of time.

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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Colin Middleton »

Hon_Kitty wrote:And second thing, (deep breath) have you already washed your silk? Because if you haven't, there's a chance it might shrink in the dyepot if you're simmering it for any length of time.
Well, that one I've at least beaten you on. Yes, I did wash it before I considered dying or cutting it.
Hon_Kitty wrote:Colin - short answer is "yes" I do know how to use Brazil Wood
(hey I'm not Medhuil Webbestre for nothing, tinkering with textiles is my thing.... :D )

Before I go home and poke about in me Book of Words, had you given any thought to what you were going to use as a mordant? (Alum will probably give you the best ie brightest result but it might not be the exact colour you want?)
I was thinking that Alum might be the best bet (though I have been advised that a little copper as a modifer may give more pleasing results. I want a bright, red for use in a heraldic 'tabbard' or coat amour. The exact shades aren't laid down, so I've got some flexibility, but I want it too look pretty and stand out from a distance.

I'm hoping to get the amounts measured out tonight and hopefully have a try at the weekend.

Many thanks
Colin

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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Hon_Kitty »

Hmm, I would have thought that copper would have given you a more purply cast to it.
http://www.jennydean.co.uk/wordpress/?m=200905

http://www.elizabethancostume.net/dyes/ ... azil1.html

The second link looks like it might be quite useful to you.
NB (sorry you're going to hate me now....) it might be worth checking, if you haven't already, the pH value of your tap water as you will get a different result again depending on whether you're acid or alkali, and what vessel you dye the fabric in (if you had a copper pot for instance, or a rusty iron one.....)

Also, if you're doing a nice big pot of dye, it might be worth identifying something else you want to dye a luvverly bubblegum pink, as it would be an awful shame to waste the exhaust dye when you've got the depth of colour you want - you can often get two or three "dips" out of a good strong colour like red, fading progressively.

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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Colin Middleton »

The primary mordant will be alum (checked my notes last night), but I was advised to throw a couple of copper tacks (or some such) in to slightly darken the colour from a pink to more of a red.

PH testing! :roll: I thougth that I left that behind in school. I'm guessing that a testing kit is easy (and cheap) enough to come by and that it'll not be too tricky to alter the ph back to where I want it (where do I want it anyway?).

The silk weighs in at 600g in total, but we've decided to cut the peices out and dye just them to make it easier to manipulate them.

Thanks for the tips.
Colin

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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Hon_Kitty »

http://www.dtcrafts.co.uk/dyesFixers/hu ... dy301.html

It *looks* like you would be better with an alkaline pH (crikey that's quite dazzling!!)

Sadly the thing with natural dyes - and this sounds like such a cop out :( - but the end result you get will depend on so many individual and personal variants, everything from whether the tree was growing in the shade or the sun to what time of year it was harvested and how long it was stored for....
What I would personally suggest - we have enormous fun doing this - is to prepare the dye bath with the brazil wood as per the destructions until you get a colour that you think looks good, and then - well we slosh a bit of white wine vinegar in for an acid modifier which usually brightens things up no end, I can't think of an alkali that you could use, washing soda crystals? (failed Chemistry sorry!) till it looks what you want it to do.
Might even be worth getting two old saucers on the side, tipping a bit of dye solution into each and sloshing a bit of vinegar in one and a bit of washing soda in the other till you know which effect you prefer!

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Re: Dying Silk

Post by Colin Middleton »

Just thought that I'd better say a thank you to everyone who gave me advice on this one. Here is a photo of the results of the dying experiment. Very successful, though not quite as good as I'd hoped.

Thanks again for your help.
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DyingExperiment.JPG
Colin

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