"Red as a rose" III: Madder/Brazil Dye


Having worked out the best redaction, this is a full-scale recreation of the Profitable Book's recipe, on linen.

160" of 3.5 oz linen (@ 6 flemish ells at 28" an ell)
8 oz beaten galls
4 oz alum
19 oz madder
2 oz brazil
4 gals fermented bran water
1/8 tsp lye

Set madder to soak in 2 gal water.

Set brazilwood to soak in 1 gal water with 1/8 tsp lye added.

Boil beaten galls in 7 gallons of water for an hour. Add wetted linen. Simmer for 4 hours. Let sit overnight. Rinse.

Boil alum in 7 gallons water for an hour. Turn down to a simmer. Add wetted linen. Stir for an hour. Let sit overnight. Rinse.

Bring madder to 150 degress in a pot with 4 gals of water. Heat for an hour. Strain out the dyebath. Add enough water to bring the bath to 7 gallons. Bring the liquid back up to 150 degrees and add wetted linen, stirring constantly for an hour. Rinse.

(After the linen, I used the exhaust bath to test overdying other materials).

Bring the brasilwood to the boil in 2 gals of water. Simmer 1 hour.

Dump out 3 gals of madder water. Add the brazilwood and its liquor. Bring back to 190 degrees (just below the boil).

Add wetted linen. Stir constantly for 20 mins. Rinse.

(After the linen, I used the exhaust brasilwood bath to test overdying other materials).

I used 1.3 lbs of madder rather than 2, as 1.3 was all I had. I also doubled the brasilwood from 1 oz to 2 ozs, hoping to compensate. This recipe came the closest of any to the "red as a rose" color.

After the madder dye, the linen was still a pale to medium pink. There were some spots left from the gall bath when the linen sat overnight, and in these spots the linen was considerably darker. Next time, I'll diverge from the original recipe and do a third tannin mordant, and also use tannic acid rather than powdered galls to avoid spotting.

After the brazilwood bath, the linen was a deep, vibrant pink-red. Even after drying, it was a solid to middling rose.

Next time: use 2 lbs madder instead of 1.3. Include the madder in the dye bath and don't strain it out. Also, use only 1 oz brazil; this may turn the bath less pink and more toward the red. Also, the exhaust baths for this dye are still pretty rich. Next time, plan ahead to have some mordanted fabric to overdye. This exhaust bath created glorious shimmery oranges over weld yellows, and some really lovely russets when green was overdyed. Also useful for dying woad/madder blacks.

Also, the Prairie Fibers brazilwood comes in curled shavings that are a stone bitch to get out of wool fabric once they're lodged in. Stick with Canyon Keep or George Weil brazilwood.

1.Main Linen
2.Medium green on dull weld, overdyed 10 min. in brazilwood exhaust bath.
3.Dark green on dull weld, overdyed with madder & brazilwood exhaust baths.
4.Bright weld wool, overdyed 30 secs in brazilwood exhaust bath.
5.Bright weld wool, overdyed 5 min in brazilwood exhaust bath.
6.Walnut brown wool, overdyed in madder exhaust bath.
7.Walnut brown wool , overdyed in madder & brazilwood (20 min) exhaust bath.

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