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Dyeing Black

Posted 10/2/2014 8:47pm by Eugene Wyatt.

In antiquity and now with natural colorants,

Dyeing (as opposed to painting) in black, on the other hand, long remained an extremely difficult exercise ...

... some dyers resorted to oak apple, a very expensive colorant material, extracted from a small spherical growth found on the leaves of certain oaks. Various insects lay their eggs on these leaves; after the eggs are laid, the sap of the tree exudes a material that gradually surrounds the larva and encloses it in a kind of shell; that is the oak gall, or oak apple. They had to be collected before summer, when the larva had not yet hatched, and then dried slowly. Thus they were rich in tannins and possessed remarkable colorant qualities in the black range. But their high price limited their use.

Black—The History Of A Color, Michel Pastoureau 2008.