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1 .OK, Jim.
2 .You wanted to see me about your textile design project.
1 .That's right.
2 .I've been looking at how a range of natural dyes can be used to colour fabrics like cotton and wool.
1 .Why did you choose that topic?
1 .Well, I got a lot of useful ideas from the museum,
2 .you know, at that exhibition of textiles.
3 .But I've always been interested in anything to do with colour.
4 .Years ago, I went to a carpet shop with my parents when we were on holiday in Turkey,
5 .and I remember all the amazing colours.
1 .They might not all have been natural dyes.
1 .Maybe not,
2 .but for the project I decided to follow it up.
3 .And I found a great book about a botanic garden in California that specialises in plants used for dyes.
1 .OK. So, in your project, you had to include a practical investigation.
1 .Yeah. At first I couldn't decide on my variables.
2 .I was going to just look at one type of fibre for example, like cotton ...
1 .... and see how different types of dyes affected it?
1 .Yes. Then I decided to include others as well,
2 .so I looked at cotton and wool and nylon.
1 .With just one type of dye?
1 .Various types, including some that weren't natural, for comparison.
1 .So, I did the experiments last week.
2 .I used some ready-made natural dyes,
3 .I found a website which supplied them,
4 .they came in just a few days,
5 .but l also made some of my own.
1 .That must have taken quite a bit of time.
2 .I'd thought it'd just be a matter of a teaspoon or so of dye,
3 .and actually that wasn't the case at all.
4 .Like I was using one vegetable, beetroot, for a red dye.
5 .and l had to chop up a whole pile of it.
6 .So it all took longer than I'd expected.
1 .One possibility is to use food colourings.
1 .I did use one.
2 .That was a yellow dye, an artificial one.
1 .Yeah. I used it on cotton first.
2 .It came out a great colour,
3 .but when I rinsed the material, the colour just washed away.
4 .I'd been going to try it out on nylon, but I abandoned that idea.
1 .Were you worried about health issues?
1 .I'd thought if it's a legal food colouring, it must be safe.
1 .Well, it can occasionally cause allergic reactions, I believe.
1 .So what natural dyes did you look at?
1 .Well, one was turmeric.
2 .The colour's great, it's a really strong yellow.
3 .It's generally used in dishes like curry.
1 .It's meant to be quite good for your health when eaten,
2 .but you might find it's not permanent when it's used as a dye — a few washes, and it's gone.
2 .I used beetroot as a dye for wool.
3 .When I chop up beetroot to eat I always end up with bright red hands,
4 .but the wool ended up just a sort of watery cream shade.
1 .There's a natural dye called Tyrian purple. Have you heard of that?
2 .It comes from a shellfish,
3 .and it was worn in ancient times but only by important people as it was so rare.
4 .I didn't use it.
1 .It fell out of use centuries ago,
2 .though one researcher managed to get hold of some recently.
3 .But that shade of purple can be produced by chemical dyes nowadays.
4 .Did you use any black dyes?
2 .That was quite complicated.
3 .I had to prepare the fabric so the dye would take.
1 .I hope you were careful to wear gloves.
1 .Yes. I know the danger with that dye.
2 .It can be extremely dangerous if it's ingested.
3 .Now, presumably you had a look at an insect-based dye? Like cochineal, for example?
1 .Yes. I didn't actually make that,
2 .I didn't have time to start crushing up insects to get the red colour and anyway they're not available here,
3 .but I managed to get the dye quite easily from a website.
4 .But it cost a fortune, I can see why it's generally just used in cooking, and in small quantities.
1 .Yes, it's very effective, but that's precisely why It's not used as a dye.
1 .I also read about using metal oxide.
2 .Apparently you can allow iron to rust while it's in contact with the fabric, and that colours it.
1 .Yes, that works well for dying cotton.
2 .But you have to be careful as the metal can actuaily affect the fabric and so you can't expect to get a lot of wear out of fabrics treated in this way.
3 .And the colours are quite subtle,
4 .not everyone likes them.
5 .Anyway, it looks as if you've done a lot of work ...