Dyeing threads

PLEASE HELP TO FUND ARCHERY INTERCHANGE

Lucasade

New member
I need to make a string for my son's bow that is getting ready. I'm using linen thread and looking at a 3-strand Flemish twist string (bow will be about 10lbs and the thread's breaking strain is 26lbs). We'll be making the string together at a Tudor farm on Sunday and I want to make one of the threads a different colour so it looks nice and keeps him occupied for longer - he's 3 years old. I was thinking to use charcoal to make it black to contrast the unbleached linen - is there any reason why this would be stupid for this particular scenario? That is, one strand would be enough to shoot the bow so rubbing a bit of grit into one of the two redundant strands shouldn't be so bad. Otherwise has anyone got any ideas of dyeing substrates available on a Tudor farm that produce a strong dark colour?

Thanks in advance!
 

Rik

Supporter
Supporter
I need to make a string for my son's bow that is getting ready. I'm using linen thread and looking at a 3-strand Flemish twist string (bow will be about 10lbs and the thread's breaking strain is 26lbs). We'll be making the string together at a Tudor farm on Sunday and I want to make one of the threads a different colour so it looks nice and keeps him occupied for longer - he's 3 years old. I was thinking to use charcoal to make it black to contrast the unbleached linen - is there any reason why this would be stupid for this particular scenario? That is, one strand would be enough to shoot the bow so rubbing a bit of grit into one of the two redundant strands shouldn't be so bad. Otherwise has anyone got any ideas of dyeing substrates available on a Tudor farm that produce a strong dark colour?

Thanks in advance!
There's the old staple of iron and acid. Basically produces ferrous salts. Traditionally done with tannic acid extracted fom oak galls, but any mildish acid will do. Takes a few days to prepare though.
 

Lucasade

New member
I've not come across that one - I've got plenty of rusty iron in the garden and some vinegar, would that work? If so is it like producing verdigris?
 

Rik

Supporter
Supporter
I've not come across that one - I've got plenty of rusty iron in the garden and some vinegar, would that work? If so is it like producing verdigris?
I've not done it, but I would try something like: crush up some oak galls and steep them in vinegar, add some wire wool and leave for a few days...
A nail or chunk of iron might also work, but would be slower (wire wool has more surface area). If no oak galls, I might try a strong tea, for tannin.

Reading about it, the tannin sounds like it's important to get blacker colours. Without it, you can end up with brown/orange.

I've mostly seen it discussed in the context of wood/leather (where it can be a problem), both of which tend to have tannin present as a matter of course.

Google "oak gall ink", to get some background.

<edit> of course, if you were going to go for carbon, I'd probably suggest lampblack (candle smut) rather than charcoal. Far finer.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
You need to make sure you don't have anything abrasive like charcoal staying on the string as it will damage the fibres.
I've been making my cider over the last week and the ground up apple dyed some old white net curtain which I use to wrap over it when pressing.
It's a brownish pinky colour (not very dark, sort of "old git beige"/ kahki ;) ). So maybe some grated apple would do it, once grated it goes brown V quick.
If it dyes man made fibre, it should do linen easy peasy :)
Del
 

Alison

New member
As I know to my cost, the juice from walnut husks (the green flesh around the nut) produces a very long lasting dark brown/black dye in contact with natural materials. It doesn't even need a mordant to fix it. It was used in medieval times should be fine for your Tudor farm.

Just don't try to peel them with bare hands! Like I did!
 

Lucasade

New member
The concept of preparing stuff a couple of days beforehand got me thinking, and I used blackberries in the end. Turned out quite well I think - I'll put a picture up when I've worked out how to!
 
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