Whatever Man does he can not Compete with Nature
Dyeing has almost ceased to exist as a traditional art. The importance of colour in our lives seems to be realised less and less. It has been forgotten that strong and beautiful colour, such as used to abound in all every day things, is an essential to the full joy of life. A sort of fear or nervousness of bright colour is one of the features of our age, it is especially evident in the things we wear.
There is unfortunately good reason for it. We fear bright colour because our modern colours are bad, and they are bad because the tradition of dyeing has been broken. The chemist has invaded the domain of the dyer, driven him out and taken over his business, with the result that ugly colour has become the rule for the first time in the history of mankind. It is not that chemists never produce beautiful colour. Dyeing as a chemical science has not been studied for the last 50 years without producing good results. But there is this great difference between the chemical commercial dyes and the traditional dyes - that with the commercial dyes it is very easy to produce ugly colours, the beautiful colour is rare; but with traditional dyes it is difficult to make an ugly colour, and good colour is the rule.
It was in 1856 that mauve was produced from coal tar by an English chemist, and this began a new era in dyeing. The discovery was developed in Germany, and the result was the creation of a science of chemical colouring.
The advantages of the new colours were ease and simplicity of use, general reliability with regard to strength and composition, and certainty in reproducing the same colour again without trouble. With regard to fastness, to light and to washing there is practically little difference between the two.
The way to beauty is not by the broad and easy road; it is along difficult and adventurous paths. Every piece of craftwork should be an adventure. It cannot be an adventure if commerce steps in and says "I will dye all your yarn for you; you will always than be able to match your colour again; there need be no variation; every skein shall be as all the others; you can order so many pounds of such a number and you can get it by return of post; and you can have six or seven hundred shades to choose from." It is all so easy, so temptingly easy, -- but how DULL! the deadly yards of stuff all so even and so exactly dyed.
It may be objected that life is not long enough; but the handicrafts are out to create more life, not out to produce quantity nor to save time.
The aim of commerce is material gain; the aim of the crafts is to make life, and no trouble must be spared to reach that end. It must always be before the craft worker. Dyeing is an art; the moment science dominates it, it is an art no longer, and the craftsman must go back to the time before science touched it, and begin all over again.
A great source for natural dyes can be found right in your own back yard! Roots, nuts and flowers are just a few common natural ways to get many colours. Needless to say that natural dyes derived from plants are the best. Inspite of few limitations no other dye is comparable to natural dyes with regards to protecting the environment.
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