…”carmine,” which came from an Old World bug, as long as but thinner than a five-year-old child’s fingernail and almost as hard. it is the kermes insect–the Indo-European cousin of the cochineal, chemically related but with a much weaker concentration of color. From its Sanskrit name, krim-dja, came the words carmine and crimson. And today’s Persian speakers still use the word “kermes” if they want to describe red…..
A fashion statement in medieval Europe was to wear clothes made of a new cloth, imported from central Asia. The cloth was called “scarlet” and it was the pashmina of its time: vastly popular, frequently imitated but at its highest quality extremely expensive–at least four times the price of ordinary cloth. But the curious thing is, scarlet was not always red. Sometimes it was blue or green or occasionally black, and the reason that in English “scarlet” now means “red” and not “chic-textile-that-only-the socialites-can-afford-but-which-we-all-aspire-to” is because of kermes.
By the Middle Ages, kermes was one of the most expensive dyes in Europe. Painters rarely used it….But the dyers loved it. And what else would they use for their most valuable textile?….ultimately the most valuable cloth deserved the most valuable dye, and kermes won out. So “a scarlet woman” actually means “a woman of the cloth,”…. Victoria Finlay in Color: A Natural History of the Palette
So, for me, that would have a double meaning, I guess. Could be why red is up there as my favorite color, along with purple, another very expensive color.
I love the way my fabrics turned out from my dyeing workshop yesterday. I don’t know if the colors are more intense than the blues because it’s red, or because I added urea to the dye solution, or because I used a slightly different base fabric, but they are gorgeous. The pictures don’t do them justice. Clicking on the picture and looking at a larger view gives a better representation of the great mottling that occurs through the cup dyeing process.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to use one of these pieces for my final project in my Doodling Designs Embroidery class. I’m just not sure which one. I’m going to take them to the needlework shop and see what they have in threads. I’ll especially be looking for some Caron Watercolors, Waterlilies, or Wildflowers.
I can also see some black embroidery on the more intense pieces.
The process for the final piece will be to choose some doodles, create a stamp and stamp the fabric, then doodle over that with white paint, then colored paints, then add embroidery and beads. It’s an intensive project that will take a lot of time, but now I have some great choices for the base fabric. While hand colored fabric was not required for the piece, I wanted to make my own so the entire piece would be original.
This surely qualifies as “slow cloth.”