In ancient Greece the color purple was eblematic of wealth and


Organic Dyes of the Ancient and Modern World

Organic chemistry, Fall 2009, UNHM By Michael Cochran-Boucher and An

• It has been said that “the Merrimac river is the same color as the shirts being dyed, as are the people swimming it its waters”.

• The river is no longer polluted and the waters are used for drinking by many neighboring • towns. • The old mill buildings provide space to a diverse group of interests, from the Segway to UNHM. The N.H. mills are vibrant and they still make textiles, only of a different sort.

Today Warwick Mill company makes fabrics used for the impact airbags of Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit , fabric for missile defense blimps, even bullet proof vests.

Pre-Industrial Dyeing Techniques

• • • • • Colors of the ancient world were derived from plant and earth pigments. The pigments were mixed with natural resins, animal fats or drying oils .

The range of colors was quite extensive but not unlimited like today. The colors available were also limited due to geographic isolation.

The expense or rarity of certain plant or mineral substances.

Phoenician Purple Dye

• In ancient Greece the color purple was emblematic of wealth and prestige. • The dye came from shellfish, harvested from the Mediterranean. • Murex trunculus produced a blue-purple , Murex brandaris produced dark red stain.

• The Phoenicians mixed together the two dyes to produce the rich Carthaginian purple.

• The Phoenicians overharvested the snails to the brink of extinction.

Ancient Egypt

• • • • The blue mineral Lapis Lazuli possessed purportedly life-giving powers.

Egyptian Blue was used in conjunction with lapis lazuli for painting eyes The color was used on the crowns of the pharaohs' statues and sarcophagus. The Nile is rendered in blue color on grave paintings Female figures colored in blue glaze were found in Egyptian graves These might have represented life and creation.

Organic Dyes of Today

• The yarns shown below are made by small independent artisans.

• They use simple techniques to achieve amazing results.

• These colored yarns were dyed using all natural basic organic dyes. • The colors are beautiful, vibrant and durable. • Many of these dyes are not available in large quantities, many are made by the artisans in small quantities.

Commercial Dye Alternatives

• Prior to commercial dyes, the use of natural plant, mineral and other organic sources were used in the dyeing process. • With the advent of new fuel -making procedures, where waste by-products of commercial plants are made into methanol, It is possible that fast growing plants such as pokeweed • could be used for fuel and for dye at the same time. This type of innovation can make a more “green” society.

Real modern Green Alternatives

Denim may be stylish, but there's an unexpected downside.:

Blue dye may pollute the planet.

In 2002, manufacturers produced 17,000 tons of synthetic indigo

Mostly to color jeans.

Indigo was naturally extracted from the woad plant.

Today the dye is usually produced from coal or oil--a process that can release toxic byproducts like cyanide into rivers and streams.

Scientist Scott Power in Palo Alto, Calif., claims he's found a "green" alternative

vats of Escherichia coli bacteria (single-cell organisms).

The Possibilities are Endless

Who knows what the future will bring ???????

T i e D y e S h i r t s • • • What we are going to be doing today is making wildly colored shirts. The process can be as simple as you care to make it. We are going to be making the project a little more interesting.

• The artisan’s fabric example on the left shows, by that by pre-treating the fabrics with stain block, we can create interesting designs. • We hope that you will enjoy the process and wear the results.

The Goal. Can it be done with cotton?