Dyeing and Colours
(Posted on 07/09/13)
The dyer is an extremely important, and often somewhat mysterious figure in rug-making. In nomadic and village cultures, the master dyer - almost invariably male - often acts as the tribal wise man, whose advice is sought on a whole range of subjects that have nothing to do with making the rugs. Dyeing is considered a science, whose secrets are handed down from generation to generation, and when the dyer is working, only other dyers may speak to him. This mystique is understandably less pronounced in modern urban manufactories, but the dyer is nevertheless a figure of considerable importance and prestige. Dyeing begins after the wool has been cleaned, usually by washing in a weak solution of soda and soap, when it is immersed in an alum-bath for about 12 hours. The alum acts as a mordant (a chemical used to create a bond between the fibre and the dyestuff), and after the yarn has been satisfactorily treated it is soaked in a bath of dye. Between each stage the yarn is left out in the sun to dry.Natural dyes Often referred to as vegetable dyes, despite the fact that many of them are obtained from animals and mineral sources. Although the majority of weaving groups today use chemical dyes, they are still used by a number of nomadic and village groups. In fact the Turkish government has recently encouraged their use, and a growing number of Anatolian weaving groups are now returning to these traditional dyes, in spite of the fact that good quality synthetic dyes are reasonably cheap and plentiful. This reflects both a desire to uphold tradition and the fact that natural dyes produce a subtle beauty of tone that has never been equal by even the finest synthetic dyes. The natural dyestuff's have the advantage of being readily found in the natural environment. Red is obtained from the roots of the madder plant (rubia tinctorum) and also from the crushed bodies of female insects of the coccus cacti genus, which produce a colour usually referred to as cochineal or carmine red. A third shade of red is derived from the insect chermes abietis. Yellow is made from the reseda plant, vine leaves and pomegranate skins. Saffron yellow comes from the dried pistils of the saffron crocus, but this plant is now extremely rare and the colours is exceptionally expensive. Blue is derived from the ubiquitous indigo plant, and green is produced by mixing yellow and blue. Gray and brown are obtained either by using undyed wool or by dyeing the yarns with extracts from nutshells and oak bark.AbrashName given to sudden change in the intensity or tone of a particular colour which does not correspond to any similar change in design. It is caused by the weaver moving to a separately dyed batch of yarn part-way through making a rug. Abrashes are usually found in nomadic and village items, where only small amounts of yarn can be dyed at any one time, and are not a sign of inadequate craftsmanship. However they are not acceptable in workshop items.