Art Speaks Series: August 2014

A monthly series that focuses on fiber art topics as a way to explore the Library’s extensive circulating collection.

The Story of Colour in Textiles, in its examination of fiber, color, dyeing and mordants, is a story of intrigue, secret dyeing societies, spying, stealing, exploration, discovery, piracy, wars and tariffs. The nobility and clergy set the color standard and deemed which colors should represent these groups. Their influence kept the secret dyers striving for better dyestuff and mordants to make the colors vibrant and less susceptible to fading. The important fibers: silk, wool, cotton and linen lead nations to create industries and demand tariffs to ward off other nations industries. The color indigo was banned for years in England and throughout Europe; severe punishments were handed out to those found dyeing with it. New dyes and mordants found during the 15th century lead to exploration in the New World with fostered piracy on the high seas. The 18th century was a time to share information and publish works on dyeing, when formal research of dyes for industrial use was undertaken. While striving to make dyes consistent for factory use, scientists stretched their minds to create other chemicals unrelated to dyes.

The Story of Colour in Textiles is a recent addition to the Textile Center Library’s extensive collection of color theory books, and was donated by Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc. It includes an impressive list of footnotes and voluminous bibliography.

Visit the Textile Center Library and make your own connections with our collection.



All books are held in the Textile Center Library’s collection.

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers © 1975

Color: a Survey in Words & Pictures by Faber Birren © 1963

Color: A Complete Guide for Artists by Ralph Fabri © 1967

Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World by Simon Garfield © 2000

The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten © 1970

Principles of Color Design: Designing with Electronic Color by Wucius Wong © 1997


App for Purchase

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers (includes with all of Albers’ study pictures and an interactive workbook). © 2014