icon for Home page
icon for Kid's Home page
icon for Digital Collection
icon for Activities
icon for Turns Exhibit
icon for In the Classroom
icon for Chronologies
icon for My Collection

Online Collection

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
Contact us for information about using this image.

label levels:

Before there were commercially available dyes, people who sought to dye cloth resorted to elaborate recipes to create dyes at home. Here, two different highly alkaline chemicals, lye (potassium hydroxide) and pot ash (potassium carbonate) were combined with two dyes, indigo and madder. Lye was derived by leaching wood ashes to create a liquid; pot ash by leaching the ashes of vegetables to create a white powder. Both were extremely caustic and were used as detergents. The form of lye specified here, chamber-lye, was created by adding lye to urine, a natural form of ammonia. They are used here to create a liquid that penetrated the fabric's threads and bonded the dye to them. Added to that mix was indigo, a blue dye derived from the plant of the same name; indigo was the original dye of "blue jeans." Finally, madder was added. Madder comes from the root of the plant Rubica tinctorum, which produces reddish to blueish dyes.


top of page

"Receipt To Color Blue"

creator   Unidentified
date   c. 1850
location   Unknown
width   7.5"
height   2.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Legal Documents/Receipt
accession #   #L01.097

Look Closer icon My Collection icon Transcription icon Detailed info icon

ecard icon Send an e-Postcard of this object

See Also...

"The Pocumtuc Housewife; A Guide to Domestic Cookery"

"Rabbits in the Pea-Patch"

Handicraft Vol I No. VII - "The Movement for Village Industries"

button for Side by Side Viewingbutton for Glossarybutton for Printing Helpbutton for How to Read Old Documents


Home | Online Collection | Things To Do | Turns Exhibit | Classroom | Chronologies | My Collection
About This Site | Site Index | Site Search | Feedback