Did you know that there are a seemingly endless numbers of colors of indigo?
“Indian indigo dye lump” by Photo by Evan Izer (Palladian) – Own work.
The use of natural dyes involves the identification, collection, cultivation and conservation of dye plants, the use of chemistry, including natural mordants/fixatives, fermentation, the art of dyeing, and in many cases, an understanding of local customs and the historical context. Dye plants are often studied along side medicinal plants. In addition to plants, invertebrates and minerals are used sources for dyes. Authentically STEAMy, right???
Here’s link to a nice, older article on the topic, including diagrams some important flavonoid dyes: http://userwww.sfsu.edu/msequin/JCE1981ChemofPlantDyes.pdf
And here’s another to the Facebook page of textile artist Hisaki SUMI. Check out her absolutely gorgeous images! (Thanks, Tani!): https://www.facebook.com/pages/Science-Art-of-Natural-Dyes/129463670414005
Actual Dolycoris baccarum
wings left side opened
right forwing opened, right hind wing folded
To continue with the theme of intersection of textile arts with science (see also https://stemtosteamihe.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/a-yarn-about-anatomy-2/), I want to share with you the work of Claire Moynihan, a textile artist in the United Kingdom: http://www.clairemoynihan.co.uk
She uses a freestyle form of 3D embroidery to realistically reproduce insects and snails. She even places them in the same collection boxes used by entomologists and labels them with scientific names.
Not all of us or all of our students are skilled in the textile arts, but some are. It is possible to give an assignment that allows students to choose a form of art for the exploration and expression of scientific knowledge. Examples such as this one may serve as an inspiration.
Bug Balls x 3 Collection (Courtesy of C. Moynihan)