Aniline Dyes

I’ve found more Arraiolos links: Santo Antonio has a nice selection of images of Arraiolos rugs and also stitch diagrams (em português). Serranofil still has kits and magazines, but I like the looks of the Casa dos Tapetes de Arraiolos kits better despite the inscrutable order form.

I’ve been thinking about aniline dyes while cross-stitching my Arraiolos-on-cotton experiment. Dyes, like so many things, are much more complicated than they seem. It used to be that you mashed up the right plants and you got a certain range of colors. Then came progress, in the form of aniline dyes.Aniline dyes have a bad reputation from the nineteenth century, when they were made from coal tar and gave garish, runny colors that faded easily. I suppose people used them then because they were new and cheaper (like Windows) than colorfast dyes. Aniline dyes have allegedly improved over time, but it’s still a scare word in the handmade rug world, where other “chemical” dyes are used - mainly “chrome” dyes using potassium bichromate, from the acidic dye category. (See the rugtime dictionary for more terms and definitions.)

To see how far we’ve come, walk into a craft shop and look at the DMC embroidery cotton colors. We can make any color we want - or rather, DMC can. I have no idea how they do it, though, so if I were trapped on a desert island I’d have to go back to pounding veggies - or worse, using aniline dyes.

It disturbs me how ill-equpped I am for life on a desert island.

By the way, the Repository has been updated with a bunch of names from TV Tome.

2 Responses to “Aniline Dyes”

  1. Kristina Okuda Says:

    Hello: I have been reading your blog. I am very interested in making a portuguese rug. I have been making tapestry projectssince I was a child. Today, I like the English designers. I love the potuguese rugs with their elegant designs. They make them in Brazil too but I have not been able to find any kits down there. What has been your experience and which source do you recommend? I am waiting to receive my copy of the elusive book. Any information will be greatly appreciated either in English or portuguese.


  2. Jemima Says:

    I tried Casa dos Tapetes de Arraiolos, but now I think Serranofil would be a better bet. Their kits didn’t thrill me when I first looked at the site, but if you look in the Portuguese section they sell materials and books as well. Here’s a free design from the Portuguese section: Blue Duck.