3D Historical Closet Wiki


Les Arts de Tissu in French

Whitworth collection textiles at the University of Manchester, UK

Victoria and Albert Museum (London) - search for textile


Seven Centuries of Lace

Old Lace

A History of Handmade Lace

Histoire du point d'Alençon Alencon lace (in French but has illustrations)

Natural Dyes and Mordants[]

From the online discussion[]

Note on dyeing cloth from Lyrra:

Even cheap dyestuff cost or could be hard to find. so its more likely that someone skimping on cost would end up with a more muted dye. Also, remember its dye + natural base colour of fabric. Chances of starting at pure white are very slim - linen is usually cream and even very white natural wool still has some cream or gray in it. Silk starts out very very white and takes dye very intensely, one of the reasons it was popular

Also - its very very easy to end up with a patchy dyejob using natural dyes and natural fibers. Wool naturally has oils in that resist dye so it particularly could be a pain to get even. Silk has gums in it and depending on the processing those can be in the fabric. What we call 'raw' silk today is made including the gummy outer layers of the cocoon, its faster and easier than the slow method of drawing out the long silk threads from the inside to get habotai or what we call china silk (that light fluttery stuff).

Note from zigraphix:

From my reading it looked like it was more difficult to get saturated colors on linen than wool, using the dyes available in medieval europe at least.

Onion skin is another favorite– you can get lovely yellow and orange colors. I think madder and woad were usually pretty easy to come by. And oak gall, or walnut shell. Pink and purple colors seem to have been available, but very expensive, involving murex and (later) New World sources like cochneal.

And green seems to be very hard to find a natural dye for. Confused Overdying yellow and blue can work, but it's hard to find a blue in early sources that doesn't go to gray when yellow is added.

Note from Pendraia:

I was aware that bright colours were available for ordinary people. Colour range was dependant on local plants and the knowledge of their local craftspeople. I also have a number of texts on using natural products for dying and we have some beautiful exhibits in the botanical gardens that demonstrate what colours you can get from which plants. Even a simple change of mordant can change the colour you get from a single plant. I have a great book called Natural Plant Dyes that list plants and what colours you get with different mordants.

Note from JOdel:

For a few years there was an artist at the SoCal Renfaire who did hand knit lace and natural dyed silk scarfs. She got an amazing range of colors from things like rose madder and indigo, plus all the rest of the usual suspects.

Natural Dyeing Sites[]

Griffin Dyeworks and Fiber Arts

Renaissance Dyeing - naturally plant dyed yarn and threads - This is the site zigraphix used as a reference for natural dye textures for Medieval Matt and Maddie

Institut für Färbepflanzen (dye plants) Site in German which seems to have information on dye plants.

Natural Dyes and Mordants

Books and Articles[]

Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting: Original Texts with English Translations - “Its massive, and contains more recipes for paint, plaster, dyes and whatnot using old wine and horse dung than you ever ever really needed to know.”