ARTECHNE – Technique in the Arts, 1500-1950


5 Apr 2018 - 6 Feb 2018
Aterliergebouw, Amsterdam

Workshop ‘The art of dyeing silk’: Colour reproductions of historical recipes and dialogue about practical skills, 5 – 6 April, Amsterdam

After the successful results of the pilot one-day workshop “The Art of Dyeing Silk” in November (check here for a review of this workshop), the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (Rijksdienst voor het Culturele Erfgoed, RCE) will be organizing a new edition, this time in the format of a two-day workshop, on 5 and 6 of April 2018 at the Atelierbuilding (Ateliergebouw), Amsterdam. Eight natural sources of red dye, namely brazilwood, madder, safflower, annatto, lac dye, American cochineal and kermes will be used to dye silk with complex historical recipes. The main aim of the workshop is to offer participants a thorough understanding on the importance of examining and testing historical recipes, to understand the complexity and value that lay behind the colouring processes in the making of historical textiles. The workshop will be given by researchers Ana Serrano, Art Néss Proaño Gaibor (RCE) and Jenny Boulboullé (Utrecht University, ERC Artechne Project), who have broad experience with recipe and reconstruction research, historical reproductions and dye procedures.

During the morning of DAY 1, participants will be offered an extensive introduction to natural red dyes, historical recipes and old dyeing practices that span over two thousand years of human traditions. The analytical characterization of dyes and mordants in historical textiles will be emphasized, along with the importance of carrying out historically informed reproductions and artificial ageing to further the understanding of the manufacture of coloured textiles and the slow decay of colours that conservators observe in objects from museum collections.

During the afternoon of DAY 1, participants will start working in pairs to get acquainted with historical recipes and their complexity, while beginning to prepare and to mordant the silk for dyeing. During DAY 2, participants will resume their work, by dyeing the silk they had prepared the previous day. In the afternoon, the results obtained by all groups will be thoroughly analysed and compared with colours exhibited by artificially-aged examples that were dyed at similar conditions, as well as with the colours shown by historical textiles. At the end of the day, participants will be given the opportunity of building their own reference collection of dyed samples.

The outcome of this workshop will be presented one week later at the spring symposium of the Textiel Commissie, which will be entirely dedicated to the theme “Silk”.

Participants of this workshop must have experience with natural dyes and dyeing practices, and manifested interest in historical recipes and dyeing reproductions. A selection of 8 participants will be made based on the experience and interests demonstrated by the applicants. Interested in participating?

Please submit the application form (in English) available at The deadline for applications is 28 of February 2018. Accepted applicants will be notified to register until the 9 of March.

Details of the workshop

Date: 5 and 6 April 2018 – please note that this is a two-day workshop and it is not possible to participate only one day

Time: 9:30 to 16:30, both days

Language: English

Costs: €200 (includes lunch and coffee breaks, samples and folder with hand-outs)

Location: Ateliergebouw, Hobbemastraat 22, 1071 ZC Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Application: please submit the online form (in English) available at

For more information, feel free to contact the organizers: Art Ness Proaño Gaibor ( and Ana Serrano (

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