The Story of Colour in Textiles

Author(s): Susan Kay-Williams

Fine Arts

Colour and shade of dyed textiles were once as much an indicator of social class or position as the fabric itself and for centuries the recipes used by dyers were closely guarded secrets. The arrival of synthetic dyestuffs in the middle of the nineteenth century opened up a whole rainbow of options and within 50 years modern dyes had completely overturned the dyeing industry. From pre-history to the current day, the story of dyed textiles in Western Europe brings together the worlds of politics, money, the church, law, taxation, international trade and exploration, fashion, serendipity and science. This book is an introduction to a broad, diverse and fascinating subject of how and why people coloured textiles. A fresh review of this topic, this book brings previous scholars' work to light again, alongside new discoveries and research.


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This book is an introduction to a broad, diverse and fascinating subject - how and why people coloured textiles, whether clothing, wall and floor coverings, or pieces such as tapestries that were decorative for their own sake.

Susan Kay-Williams is the Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court. She has a long-term interest in textiles and was introduced to dyeing on a one-day workshop in the 1980s. Susan is constantly in demand as a speaker, especially for NADFAS in the UK, and internationally in the US and Japan. She is a fellow of the RSA.

Acknowledgments Preface Introduction Chapter one: Fragments and glimpses - dyes from pre history Chapter two: The Dark Ages - surprising colour Chapter three: New skills, burgeoning trade - the Middle Ages Chapter four: Broadening horizons - the sixteenth century Chapter five: Mystery, art and science - the seventeenth century Chapter six: Analysis, understanding and invention - the eighteenth century Chapter seven: Ryots, rewards and handsome colours - the nineteenth century Chapter eight: A hundred yellows - the twentieth and twenty-first centuries References Photo credits Bibliography Index

General Fields

  • : 9781408134504
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : A & C Black Publishers Ltd
  • : December 2012
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Susan Kay-Williams
  • : Paperback
  • : 176