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Industries – Beautiful Things – Damask Pattern Sample Book (Reds)

Produced by Erskine Beveridge & Co Ltd

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The term ‘Turkey red’ applies not to the colour but rather to the process that was used to create the bright and fast red that is seen in so much of Dunfermline Museum’s linen collection.

The dyeing process – thought to have originated in the historical region of Levant (which incorporated modern-day Turkey) – was adopted in Great Britain in the 1780s, first in Manchester and then later in Glasgow. It involved multiple steps, and took weeks to complete, each of the steps repeated over and over for up to 25 days:-

  • Cleaning (or bleaching) the yarn to remove impurities and prepare it for the dyeing process
  • Preparing the yarn by saturating it in rancid olive oil and sheep dung
  • Treating the yarn with alum to ensure that the dye would stick and be fast
  • Dyeing the yarn in vats containing rubia plant extract and bullock’s blood

Cleaning and brightening the cloth by boiling in a chloride solution.