Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Period Leather Dyes

As I mentioned in my previous stick-purse post, I've decided that I'm going to need to figure out period leather dyeing techniques for my project. This has led me to do some research into the area of period leather dyeing - what would have been used, what colours were available and what resources might be out there.

Given that I know absolutely nothing about dyeing or period pigments (whether for fabric, leather or illumination) I'm a little bit out of my element. However, I found a leatherworker in the UK who does all of his own dying using period dyes. His work is really awesome and if I can get even close to the colours he's doing (particularly the reds and greens), I'd be thrilled. He also has a good summary of his process, which gives me an idea of what will be involved. Here's the site:

So, first step is probably to figure out what materials I can use to do the dying itself. I'll also need to figure out the mordants I can use.

In the link above, Karl Robinson references a book called "Plictho de Lare de Tentori ...." by Gioanventura Rossetti as the source of his recipes. Avelyn and Emelote are working their library magic to see if I can get a copy through the local universities or inter-library loan.

I also found this web link from a fellow SCAdian who, in addition to the Plictho, also refers to a second book called "The Secretes of the Reverende Maister Alexis of Piemount". He also published some of the recipes from this book. Here's the link:

Ideally, what I would like to do is find out which materials are appropriate and then purchase them rather than having to extract the pigments from the natural source myself. There are a number of retailers who carry natural dyes and pigments so I really just need to figure out which ones will work with leather, and which mordants to use.

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