Griffin Dyeworks & Fiber Arts

Understanding Mordants and Modifiers



Description: Mordant, bright blue odorless granules or powder, one of the earliest known metals, used as a mordant and dye color since 3000 BCE in Mediterranean area.
Other Names: Blue copperas, bluestone, blue verditer (copper carbonate), blue vitriol, Bremen blue, Bremen green, chalcanthite, copper acetate, copper (II) sulfate, copper sulfate crystals, copure, copyr, cupric acid, cupric sulfate pentahydrade, French verdigris (copper acetate), hydrated copper sulfate, hydrated cupric sulfate, Paris blue, Roman vitrol, Salzburg vitriol, verdigris, [Ancient] kyprios, cuper, cuprum, coper, [L] cyprium, [Alchemic] salt of Venus, [Sw] koppar, [Dan] kobber, [Ger] kupfer, kupross, [Fr] cuivre, [Sp, Port] cobre, [Yoruba] country alum
Dye Use: Drabbing mordant, good fastness; sea-foam green dye in itself on silk, wool. Vinegar helps fiber take up copper. If dye has green in it, copper will bring it out: addition of ammonia helps.
Best On: Cellulose fibers as a mordant; good on silk and wool as a seafoam green dye
Dye Recipe: Dissolve 1 tsp copper, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp vinegar in 1 gal pot; add fiber, simmer 20 min, rinse well. Early dyers added 2-3 tsp salt to help 'fix' dye color in copper bath—it couldn't hurt!
Safety: Corrosive, toxic fumes; ingestion can cause liver and kidney damage and death; avoid on skin or eyes
Disposal: Dilute with water and pour on copper-loving plants: azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias
     Copper Penny Mordant: Soak 2 c pennies in 3 c vinegar or 3 tbsp ammonia for 10-15 days in 1 gal water. Bring briskly to boil 30 minutes, add fiber and simmer 10-15 min, cool and rinse well in vinegar water
     Copper Scrubber Mordant: 2-3 no-soap copper scrubbers, simmer with 2 tsp ammonia for 2 hrs, steep several days. Add fiber, simmer 10-15 min, rinse in vinegar water
Source: Griffin Dyeworks, or use penny/scrubber mordants.

CODES: c = cup; gal = gallon; lb = pound (weight); tbsp = Tablespoon; tsp = teaspoon / [AF] Anglo-French; [Ar] Arabic; [AS] Anglo-Saxon; [Dan] Danish; [Du] Dutch; [Fr] French; [Ger] German; [Gk] Greek; [It] Italian; [L] Classical Latin; [LL] Late Latin; [ME] Middle English; [ML] Modern Latin; [OE] Old English; [OF] Old French; [ON] Old Norse; [OS] Old Saxon; [Port] Portuguese; [Sp] Spanish; [Sw] Swedish / CE = Common Era; BCE = Before Common Era

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