• A Little Dye Book
    (Published as part of the Weber Kunst und Bild Buch, 1677, Ulm.)

    Translation copyright Patricia Hilts.

    The below is from a translation by Patricia Hilts of the "Little Dye Book" contained in Marx Ziegler's Weber Kunst und Bild Buch of 1677. The translation appears in Patricia Hilts, The Weaver's Art Revealed: Facsimile, Translation, and Study of the Fist Two Published Books on Weaving, Part I, and was published in Ars Textrina, vol. 13 (1990). This volume of Ars Textrina also includes a glossary of early German weaving and dye terms and an introductory chapter by Patricia Hilts on the history of dyeing. Patricia has graciously permitted these recipes to be made available online. Copies of Ars Textrina can be obtained from: The Charles Babbage Research Centre, Box 272, St Norbert Postal Station, Winnipeg, Canada, R3V 1L6. Telephone: 204-772-2612.

    Author: Marx Ziegler
    Modern English (post-1500)
    Published in 1677
    Color , Renaissance Dyeing Terms
    1600 AD - 1699 AD


To Dye Sulfur Yellow on Linen

Take as much weld as you need. Boil it in good lye until its strength is extracted. Afterwards strain out the herb; stir a little verdigris and a little alum into the dye bath. Dye the yarn with this until it is yellow enough.

Blue Linen from Logwood

Take logwood. Boil it sufficiently in lye. Put in a little verdigris and alum, according to whether you are dyeing much or little, until the dye bath is blue enough. Decant. Dye with it until the yarn is blue enough.

Green Linen from Logwood

First dye the yarn sulfur yellow; afterwards dye in the blue dye. Or mix the yellow and the blue dye together until the color is green enough.

Orange Color Linen

First dye the yarn sulfur yellow. Afterwards take chimney soot from where one has burned fir wood. Let it boil for two hours. Then dye the yellow yarn in it until it is [orange] enough.

Gold Color from Fustic

Take a sufficient amount of fustic. Boil it in lye until the strength is extracted. Strain it off, stir in a little alum, and dye with it.

Isabella Color

Boil annatto in lye until it is boiled out. Stir in a little alum and dye the yarn until it looks good enough.

Red Linen

To one pound of yarn take 1 ounce of alum and put it in warm water. Lay the yarn in and let it lie for two hours. Take out the yarn and let it dry. Afterwards take a quarter pound of brazilwood. Boil well in water. Take a pinch of well pounded sal ammoniac and put into the dye. Dye with it. It will give a beautiful red.

Liver Color

Take the red dye which you have just been taught above; put in alum, and dye the yarn in the cold dye.

Purple Color

Boil brazilwood in lye; put a little lime therein and let it boil together. Afterwards dye with it until the color is sufficient.

Rose Color

Make it the same as red. You must also take lye but no lime. Beforehand, lay the yarn in alum water, as has been mentioned above, and let it dry. Afterwards dye it.

Violet Brown

Dye blue first, and afterwards draw it through the red dye.

Clove Brown

Take logwood and boil it in lye. Put in a little alum and stir it thoroughly. Dye the yarn with this until the color is right.

Silver Color

Take logwood and copperas and let them boil together in water. Afterwards take a gallnut, pulverize it fine and put it into the dye. Let boil again. Decant the dye and dye with it. It will give a beautiful silver color.

Tristemin Color

Take fustic and dye the yarn yellow. Afterwards take copperas and pounded gallnuts, and boil them in water. Draw the yellow yarn through this dye, and afterwards wash it out sufficiently in cold water.

To Dye Linen Black

Take copperas and pounded gallnuts and oak sawdust; let them boil together. Put in iron filings. Dye the yarn with this until it is black enough and then wash out.

Dyeing Linen Blue with Indigo

To 6 bucketfuls of water take 4 handfuls of bran, 2 handfuls of glasswort, three handfuls of unslaked and lumpy lime. First bring the water to a boil and then put in the caustic, either 2 pounds of wine lees or 2 pounds of potash or 2 pounds of woad ashes, which one of these three you wish, but the potash must be ground and stirred. Let boil together for one-half hour, and then put in bran and glasswort and then the lime. Let boil again for a quarter of an hour and after it has boiled, still it with a bucket of cold water. Stir it and take the fire away. Let stand for half an hour until it settles. Afterwards strain it off until you reach the cloudy part. Throw (the cloudy part) away. Thus you have the 'Weinstein' as it is called [by indigo dyers].

To Grind Indigo

To 6 bucketfuls of water or Weinstein take 1 pound of indigo. Soak the indigo in Weinstein in the indigo grinding kettle. Grate and grind; let it settle for one-eighth hour. Afterwards beat on the kettle with a stick and pour off the liquid until you reach the sediment. Again, take half a pail of Weinstein and grind as you did before. Pour off down to the sediment and so forth as long as you still have indigo in the kettle. Then you must let the dye stand 12 hours before you can dye with it. And after you have dyed, always let the vat rest for 2 hours.

To Test the Dye

Take a small wooden bowl, and with it draw the bloom off to one side. If the dye in the vat appears yellow, then it is good. If it is grass green, then it is too sharp [caustic]. Pour in a pail of water that is not sour. If the dye appears sea green, then it is too soft [not caustic enough]. Take a pail full of Weinstein and let stand one hour. Before you dye, draw off the bloom with the little wooden bowl. Lift the bloom off and pour it back in again after you have stirred the vat and after you have dyed. When you have thus set up the vat and it has stood its time and has been rested, the dyeing will proceed quickly. The dye should not boil in the kettle, but only be warmed enough so that you can bear to keep your hand in it. When the dye is exhausted, make up again with Weinstein as you did at first, and let rest 12 hours before you dye again.

To Dye Wool with Indigo

Take fresh men's urine and 1 1/2 oz. of indigo to 5 pounds of yarn. Let the indigo soak overnight in the urine and grind it as fine as possible. Pour in the urine and stir it up well. If debris appears to settle out, pour or strain it into a glazed pot and put in a little ground antimony. Let stand 24 hours in a warm place. When you wish to dye, let the yarn boil in alum water for half an hour. Drain the yarn and afterwards lay it wet into the indigo pot. Turn the yarn often so that it will not become unevenly dyed, and let it lie until it is blue enough. If the yarn is not a dark enough blue, put in more indigo.

Yellow for Wool

First boil the wool in alum water as before mentioned. Afterwards, take weld and boil it in water until the dye is extracted. Take the weld out of the kettle and put in the wet yarn. Let boil until yellow enough.

Green for Wool

Dye it yellow as mentioned above, and then let the dye drain out of the yarn. When it has drained, draw or lay the yarn in blue indigo dye until it is green enough. If the yarn has been dried after being dyed yellow, you must again draw it through alum water and let it drain. And thus it must be drawn wet through the blue dye while it is still warm.

Green in Another Manner

Take two quarts of men's urine, 4 quarts of vinegar, 1/4 oz. of verdigris and one dram of indigo and 1/2 oz of nitric acid. Put all together in a glazed vessel and lay the yarn in until it is green enough.

Blue from Indigo in Another Manner

Make a strong lye and take 1 'Kr' of saltpetre, put it into the lye and let the lye become clear. Put in the indigo and let stand 6 hours. afterwards lay in the wool and let it remain 4 hours. It will become a beautiful blue.

Beautiful Red on Wool

Take tartar and alum and boil the yarn in it for one hour. Let drain. Take Pernambuco or 'Maria Holz' (brazilwood) and two Kr. red gum-lac. Let cook together, and when it is boiled, take off the foam and put in the yarn. Let it lay in the bath for half an hour. Afterwards, take it out and wash it.

Red in Another Manner

For 5 pounds of yarn take a quarter pound of tartar, and a quarter pound of alum. Boil the yarn in it for one hour. Afterwards, take one pound of good madder and soak for 2 hours. Let the water be warm enough so that you cannot bear your hand in it. Put the madder in together with the yarn. Let all boil together, and reel the yarn in and out until it is red enough.

Orange Color.

To one pound of yarn take 1 quarter pound of fustic and a like amount of alum and good lye. Boil thoroughly together. Afterwards take one dram of corn flowers and a little brandy; mix together and add to the dye. Dye the yarn when it is not too hot.

Violet Brown Wool

First boil the yarn in alum water as mentioned above. Afterwards take to one pound of yarn a quarter of a pound of logwood. Let it boil well in water. Put in the yarn, but first take out the chips of dye wood. Boil the yarn thoroughly until it is brown enough.

Flame Colored Wool.

Take ground fustic; let boil in water until one third has boiled away. Boil the yarn in this, and it will take on a beautiful color. But the wool must be previously boiled in alum, otherwise it will take no color properly.

Red in Another Manner

To one pound of yarn take one-fourth pound of brazilwood and one-third pound of alunite, half lye [solution] and half water. Let one-third boil away. Put in the yarn and let boil until red enough.

Blue Color in Another Manner

Take 1 pound of indigo and 2 oz of alunite and one ounce of raw honey. Boil in a strong lye solution made from oak wood ashes until one-third of it has boiled away. Afterwards dye with it--the yarn will be a beautiful blue: Or: take 1 pound of fine 'Venetian Soap', 1 ounce verdigris. Let boil together until one-third has boiled away. Thus it will be an outstandingly beautiful dye.

Scarlet Red

Take 3 ounces of finely pulverized brazilwood and four quarts of strong vinegar. Let the brazilwood sit overnight in the vinegar. Pour in 6 quarts of water and let it boil down by one-third. Put in one-half pound of alunite, pour through a sieve. You can dye with it or paint or write. Or: Take 4 ounces of alunite and 2 ounces of Saccharine alum, 3 ounces of Brazil wood. Extract the brazil for two days in white wine. Set it afterwards on a brisk fire, and when it begins to boil, put in the alum, finely ground. When it has boiled a while, strain it and dye with it.

Black Dye

Take 1 part copperas, 4 parts ground gallnuts and boil with the wool yarn or silk for 2 hours. Take it out and let it cool. Put it back in until it is black enough. Finally rinse clean in fresh water.

To Dye Silk Crimson Red

Take a sufficient amount of Venetian soap, dry it in the sun, grate it, dissolve or temper it with spring water. Afterwards take the silk, wrap it in a linen cloth, and cook it in this water on the fire for one-half hour. Turn the silk from side to side so that it will not be scorched. Take the silk out and wash it first in salt water and then in spring water. Once this is done, take for each pound of silk, 1 pound of alum dissolved in as much cold spring water as needed. Lay in the clean silk, wound in a linen cloth, and leave for eight hours. Take the silk out and wash it first in spring water and then in salt water and finally in spring water. Once all of this has been performed, put it into a dye bath composed of the following ingredients: Take the littler grains with which one dyes scarlet ('Chermesin' and called in Latin 'Cocci Grana') [Kermes] 3 or 4 ounces. Grind it fine, put it through a sieve, and put it into the kettle. Take as much spring water as will cover the silk to a depth of 4 to 6 fingers, and for each pound of silk take 3 ounces of ground gallnuts, or if you do not have gallnuts use 1/2 ounce of 'Arsenicum Christalinum' [arsenic crystals]. Cook it all together, and as it begins to boil, put in the silk. Cook it all together for 4 hours. Afterwards, take out the silk and let it dry in the shade. Thus, it will be very beautiful.