Monday, May 17, 2010

Do It Gorgeously -- No, Don't.

I picked up a copy of Do It Gorgeously: How to Make Less Toxic, Less Expensive, and More Beautiful Products by Sophie Uliano from the slush pile at work last week.

It's ok... nothing to write home about, for those of us who have been doing the mend-and-make-do thing from childhood. But one part just made me stop short: the section on natural dyeing, which is a subject I know something about.

On pp. 169-170, she recommends dyeing with a number of things, such as turmeric and pomegranates for orange (the first does give a brilliant yellow, but is very fugitive, meaning the color will fade over time; the second gives yellows and tans, in my experience), strawberries, cherries, raspberries and plums for pink... I'll stop there, because none of these dyes gives a permanent pink. They might stain clothes a little, but don't yield a lasting, permanent dye. She goes on to list a number of other supposed dyes, few of which will actually yield the promised colors.

She completely skips the subject of mordanting (you need a metal like alum, iron or copper to prepare the fabric for dyeing, with tannin also needed for dyeing cotton and linen), recommending salt and vinegar as "fixatives".

The author says she's dyed several articles of clothing with berries, but I find that hard to believe. I've attempted to dye samples with beet juice and pokeberries, and the results were disappointing. The beets left a vague tan color behind. Pokeberries will yield pretty, but very temporary, pink/purplish colors.

You can find this sort of misinformation repeated in various books and websites, but, as a friend's mother used to say, "paper will sit still for anyone." It makes me wonder whether the other recipes (cosmetics, etc.) in her book have been tested, or whether she's just passing along information she's read without seeing whether it works.


Blogger goosefairy said...

it certainly does give one pause. like my dear ole dad used to say "believe none of what you read and only half of what you see". always good to do a little research on your own.

10:54 AM  

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