it's been brought to my attention that i [apparently] have paid insufficient attention to 'lightfastness' in my book. should i perhaps have done a lightfastness test for every dye plant that passed through my hands? hmm. i'd still be working on the manuscript if that were the case
let me put this into perspective
back in 2006 at the UNESCO natural dye symposium in Hyderabad a lot of industrial dyers were getting similarly hot under the collar, demanding standardisation of dyes and colours and conformity to set guidelines. there was a lot of spirited discussion.
my favourite contribution was that of Monsieur Coulibaly [forgive me if the spelling of the name has become somewhat tarnished with distance] who stood up from his seat wearing the beautiful costume of his homeland [Mali] and in perfect Parisian French succinctly addressed the assembled gathering...
[here's my translation, a little abbreviated]
Ladies and Gentlemen,
"look about you...we are all different. our skin and hair are different colours, we wear different clothes. as we age our hair turns white, our skins wrinkle and our teeth fall out. this we cannot change, but our clothes can be dyed again"
and this is what Eco Colour is all about. dyes and dye plants differ from one region to the next. indigo grown in India yields a different blue to indigo grown in El Salvador. eucalyptus species cultivated in the UK won't necessarily give the same colour as the same species grown in Australia.
and what works well in the water available here at Hope Springs doesn't necessarily work the same way elsewhere [for example ice-flower blues were completely eaten away overnight by chemically treated water at Paraparaumu in New Zealand] . so why fuss? some colours will be substantive, others not...when things fade, re-dye them.
one genus that does however remain true to form is my friend the eucalyptus. while the shades achieved might differ depending on the quality of the water used, the colour itself when applied to wool is pretty much bombproof. at Spinexpo in China last year one of my ecoprint scarves was cheekily [and secretly, apparently] tested for washfastness - and came up with a rating of 4.
what does this mean? i'm not exactly sure, but given 5 is the top of the scale, and 4.5 is the maximum ever achieved, a 4 for eucalyptus applied to wool without adjunct mordants is pretty good.
and when one considers the wee scrap of wool that lives wrapped around my wrist has been there since December last year and has been in oceans and under showers and out in the sun with me, i don't think it's doing too badly either...