Volume 13 Issue 2 A Journal Dedicated to Natural Dyes Spring 2008
Landscape 1
 Photograph Copyright by Pamela Feldman

Book Review:
Dominique Cardon, Natural Dyes:
Sources, Tradition, Technology and Science

by Alison Morton

Dominique Cardon has produced an extremely informative book, one that is a welcome addition to the existing body of dye books written over the many centuries. In this encyclopaedic book, the author Dominique Cardon answers almost every question an experienced, or potential, dyer might ask about the world of natural dyeing. Her presentation is so readable that each entry entices the reader to explore further.

The book is divided into three sections: The Art of Dyeing, Dye-Plants, and Dyeing Animals.

  book cover

In Part 1, the author outlines dyeing techniques and gives recipes for natural dyeing, followed by valuable information about mordants. Part 2 provides a wealth of information on the dyes that can be obtained from plants, and here the well-researched historical record of many of the dyes is of wide interest. Old and new methods of dyeing are discussed, and accompanied by clear photographs of the relevant plants to make identification easier. Also, the photographs of dyed textiles relating to the dye material described are useful. Included in Part 2 is a good chapter on lichen and fungi dyeing—information that is sometimes difficult to locate.

The book concludes, in Part 3, with details about the dye-stuffs found in molluscs and insects, and here again the well-researched historical records of these ancient dyes are particularly fascinating. An appendix listing the chemical structures of the dye groups is also useful.

While the author is to be congratulated on the very large number of plants from different parts of the world that she has investigated, it is disappointing for this Australian dyer to find no mention of the wonderful colour range of dyes that can be obtained from the genus Eucalyptus. In spite of this, the book is an indispensable source of reference and information, and, although its cost may prohibit some from purchasing it, hopefully it will be available in libraries, where it can be used as a continuing and reliable source of reference, interest and information.


Alison Morton is a member of the Natural Dye Group, Plant Craft Cottage, Royal Botanic Gardens, Victoria, Australia

Dominique Cardon
Natural Dyes: Sources, Tradition, Technology and Science

Hardcover, 800 pages, 85.00 / $170.00
Published by Archetype Publications Ltd., London (Sep 25 2007)
ISBN-10: 1-904982-00-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-904982-00-5