Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Dye Recipe Catalog

by Conservation

5/17/2018

behind the scenes , conservation , dye catalog , conservation lab

Taste the rainbow in textile conservation!  The dye recipe catalog, seen here, is an important tool in a textile conservation lab.  Each page of the catalog represents a set of samples, usually between 6 and 7 individual colors with their recipes.  Dyed-to-match fabrics are prepared for support and infill (patches) for damaged textile artwork.  In order to achieve near-perfect color matches, the desired color is compared to existing samples from the catalog to either select a color already prepared or to find a similar color whose recipe can be adjusted for a new set of samples in pursuit of the perfect shade.  It is very important that the recipes are measured precisely and prepared exactly the same way every time so that colors can be replicated and the recipes are informative when near colors are being sought.  Most of these samples are silk, but at CAM we also dye (in decreasing order of frequency) cotton, wool, linen, and nylon.

This dye recipe catalog is up to about 700 color samples.  Not bad progress, as textile conservation in-house at CAM started 6 years ago!  Nevertheless, at 700 colors, the textile conservator is only just beginning to enjoy finding already matching colors in this textile treasure chest.