Sunday, 23 September 2007

Welcome to my library - some books on natural dyeing.



Today, I took time off, left my pre-occupations and hobbies at home and off I went to a secondhand book fair, partly to meet up with a friend, partly because you just never know what you might find in hunting around the book stalls. I often pick up interesting books on all kinds of subjects, e.g. on previous occasions, windmills, cheesemaking, architecture, Escher.

To my amazement, today I found a book I have been wanting, and I'm delighted with it. For just £3 I picked up a very good copy of "A Dyer's Garden", subtitle "from plant to pot - growing dyes for natural fibres", by Rita Buchanan, Interweave Press, 1995, ISBN 1-883010. I don't know how many copies of this special interest book, published in the U.S., might be in circulation in England, probably not many, so I think it was my lucky day. I already have another book by Rita, "A Weavers Garden", in the Dover republication of 1999, ISBN 0-486-40712-8.

The Weaver's garden book covers dye plants, so I'd not been entirely sure that I needed both books. I have discovered the content of the Dyer's book is quite different, and very useful. So, I have discovered that the Weaver's book is not a re-print, it covers different plants and has a more discursive approach. The Dover edition has few pictures, but is a very interesting read. Lots of background research went into the preparation for this book (and there's long lists of further reading). It covers history and chemistry as well as dye methods. It includes plants for soap, fibre, fragrance (e.g. to deter moths) and make tools. Both books include suggestions of planting schemes for different gardens.

The Dyer's book is smaller, and it's pretty. After chapters on choosing and growing plants, planning a garden, the basics of dyeing and a whole chapter on colours, the second half of the book is all double-page spreads each featuring a different plant. It has a picture of the plant, information about the plant and how to grow it and, on the facing page, dyeing information with a range of colour samples (in photos).

Both books are lovely, very readable.

As you will see from the picture above, I already had a number of books on dyeing. They all have different information and I value them all for different reasons, which I will tell you about in future posts. However, in the meantime you can see my review of a newly published book, Natural Dyes, by Linda Rudkin, pub. A & C Black 2007, The Textiles Handbook Series, ISBN 978-0-7136-7955-7 on the Textile Directory web site.

1 comment:

Janet said...

Hello Dorothy - I'm a bit behind in my blog reading. I love going to 2nd hand bookshops and book fairs. Thanks for posting this information about your "finds". I was recently browsing one of my favourite 2nd hand bookshops in Seattle and I found a couple of obscure weaving books. You've made me think I might do a blog entry about that.
Are you going to do a blog about your visit to Joyce Forsyth's workshop? - that's one of my favourite places in Edinburgh.