New publication celebrates the lost folk practices and technical processes of dying cloth

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New publication celebrates the lost folk practices and technical processes of dying cloth
The pursuit of color has long spurred economic and social contest, and through this deeply researched volume, we explore the stories that the materials used to dye cloth tell us about our complex relationship to nature, our troubling ideas about progress, and our understanding of power and labor.



NEW YORK, NY.- Atelier Éditions announces In Pursuit of Color, From Fungi to Fossil Fuels: Uncovering the Origins of the World's Most Famous Dyes, a new publication celebrating the lost folk practices and technical processes of dying cloth. 

Co-published by Atelier Éditions and D.A.P., and releasing on March 28th, 2023, this engrossing title looks at the rich and turbulent history of dyes through archive photography, specimens, and present-day events. The book will be available in three different colorways and includes a 32-page supplement detailing practical applications and the chemistry behind dyeing processes. 

After a 2017 viral video showing a pack of indigo-colored dogs emerging from Mumbai’s Kasadi river, anthropologist and textile artist Lauren MacDonald began an obsessive search for insights into a practice that is both ancient and wholly modern: coloring cloth. MacDonald traces how folk practices have been lost and technical processes found, showcasing the substances that have played roles in the epic story of dyeing. Flora, Fauna, Funga, and Fossil Fuels— the plants, animals, mushrooms, and lichens that were responsible for all dyes before the commercial success of synthetic dyes in the late 19th century. 

From the story of indigo and its connection to James Dean’s jeans, and King Tutankhamun’s burial shrouds, its role in political uprisings, trade wars, and propaganda, to stories of the extreme (and sometimes bizarre) lengths that humans have gone to to make our lives more colorful. From the glands of a sea snail to make history’s most valuable purple, or the ferrying of cacti across mountains to protect a vulnerable source of scarlet. 

Our manipulation of the natural world has resulted in an explosion of synthetic dye production and application globally. The pursuit of color has long spurred economic and social contest, and through this deeply researched volume, we explore the stories that the materials used to dye cloth tell us about our complex relationship to nature, our troubling ideas about progress, and our understanding of power and labor. 

Lauren MacDonald (born 1990) is a Canadian-born multidisciplinary artist, designer, and founder of the London, UK textiles studio Working Cloth. She has a background in material culture, textile science, and fashion.










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