STYLE: A HISTORY OF TURKEY RED DYE by Anna Yanofsky
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STYLE: A HISTORY OF NATURAL DYE by Anna Yanofsky STYLE: 18th CENTURY NATURAL DYE IN TURKEY by Anna Yanofsky
  In early 18th century Europe a true red dye that didn’t fade in the sun or rinse away with washing was highly sought after. European dye producers were intent on emulating Turkey Red, a dye color named for its country of origin. The original process of dyeing cloth Turkey Red was expensive and could take weeks. Combinations of minutely measured wood ash, alum, sheep’s dung, lye, and rancid olive oil were used to prepare cotton fibers to accept red colorant. Repeated “dippings” or baths of precise durations in vats heated to exact temperatures were followed by timely drying sessions until the fibers were ready for their dye. Turkey Red dye began as an oil leached from madder root—a finicky crop that required the right climate and soil. With a little steer’s blood thrown in to the mix for good measure, the cotton was again soaked repeatedly and dried. A mordant bath to fix the color was added to the soaking rotation before the deeply red cotton was ready for use.

~Anna Yanofsky
 
March 2014