It should come as no surprise to those who know me that I love books. And any excuse to buy them. :-) My days of cavalierly buying expensive books on a whim are over, but even on a modest budget a good amount of books can be obtained.
A lot of the older natural dye books are quite inexpensive on Amazon; I don’t think I paid more than $15, often much less, for any of the ones in the photos. Often times the shipping cost more than the book itself.
These are not all my natural dye books, just a selection of the older ones that I stumbled upon while scouring Amazon. They are all useful. My favorites of the ones above, the ones that I find the most useful right now, are the Anne Bliss ones, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden booklet Dyes from Nature, which has articles from different authors on a wide range of subjects, and Ida Grae’s Nature’s Colors. Vegetable Dyeing is good but I have only read it once and need to delve into it further. Craft of the Dyer is excellent but a lot of the plants are species that grow in Canada. Dye Plants and Dyeing by John and Margaret Cannon is a beautiful book, and quite useful, although a lot of those plants referenced are UK ones. Natural Dyes: Plants and Processes was interesting to read but again, I’ve only read it once and need to go through it again. I also need to read Natural Dyes for Spinners and Weavers again, since I can’t remember the contents right now. Colors from Nature is good in that it talks about growing your own dye plants. I’m unsure how I feel about The Complete Illustrated Book of Dyes from Natural Sources; a lot of the colors that they say you can get seem a little far fetched and not nearly as lightfast as they claim. The quantities of mordants used also seems really high. Although they claim to have tested all of these, I don’t really believe it, for the above reasons. I’d be interested to know in other dyers’ thoughts on this book.
I am discovering that my favorite dyeing books are the ones that feature plant materials that you can forage; Ida Grae’s book is particularly helpful as the plants she uses are all ones you can find in the San Francisco Bay Area. Anne Bliss’s books are also helpful as she tries out a lot of “weeds” that are readily available and sometimes are quite invasive in places, so taking them out of the ground is good.
The disappointing thing about these books is how often chrome is used as a mordant. I say disappointing because a particularly beautiful color that will be said to be able to be gotten from a plant will often have used chrome as the mordant. Very few people use chrome these days, as it is extremely toxic and poisonous, and I will not be using it at all.
I’ll try to go in depth a little more into some of these books in future blog posts. As I said before, these are not all my books; I will talk more about the other books I have in future.