After reading– poring over, really– A Dyer’s Garden by Rita Buchanan, I used her name as a search word on Amazon, which brought up the above gem, Dyes From Nature, by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record, published in 1990, with Rita Buchanan as the guest editor. (I have two more booklets by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which I’ll talk about in the next library post.) Whereas the two other booklets I have are mainly black and white (published earlier), Dyes From Nature is gloriously colorful. It’s also packed with information.
Miriam Rice was the first in the world to publish a book on the subject of mushroom dyes. Her research inspired the formation of International Fibre and Fungi Symposia, which convenes every two years in different countries, drawing participants from all over the world, as well as being instrumental in forming the International Mushroom Dye Institute. Dyeing with mushrooms fascinates me, and one day I will take a class on it! Rice’s article is a mini-instruction manual on dyeing with mushrooms, giving directions– and results- on dyeing with 3 different types of mushrooms.
Anne Bliss, who I’ve wrote about in this post, also has an article in here, on dyeing with– what else—weeds! She’s really made me love dyeing with weeds. She focuses on ten different weeds here, and the different colors you can get with them by varying mordants and additives.
One of the most poignant articles in here is on Mexican Indigo. The author visited the Niltepec village, which was apparently the only place indigo (Indigofera suffructicosa) was still grown…and that there was a single family producing and selling the indigo. However, there was a drought the year the author visited, and they produced a tenth of what they normally produced, making the family decide to switch to cattle ranching. However, a master weaver begged the family to continue making the indigo; the weavers would pay whatever was necessary.
These are only a handful of the riches contained within this slight paperback; there are articles written by names you will recognize: Rita Buchanan, Miriam Rice, Jim Liles, Trudy van Stralen and Anne Bliss, amongst several more. The articles range from the above to ones such as “Dyemaking with Eucalypts in Australia” and “Traditional Plant Dyes in Japan”. While looking through it to write this blog post, I am reminded that I need to sit down and really read it thoroughly again. There’s just so much to learn.