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Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans Paperback – Sep 22 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books (Sept. 22 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554079896
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554079896
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.9 x 27.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #136,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


(review of UK edition) (reviewed with Madder Red) Both books combine practical wisdom with a tireless search for historical evidence in print, documents, textiles and photographs, and both deal with the use of the dyes in textiles, paints, and medicines, though their emphases differ. Both have abundant and varied illustrations, but Chenciner's are in black and white, whereas Balfour-Paul offers a magnificent selection in colour...The ramifications of dye-plants are endless, and these two books open up innumerably alluring pathways, not yet explored to their ends. (Joan Thirsk, emeritus reader in economic history, Times Higher Education 2001-02-01)

(review of UK edition) Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans is the definitive work on the dye, tracing its exotic history from the times of the ancient Pharaohs to the present day. Indigo, first published in 1998 by The British Museum Press, has a recently updated last chapter that focuses on sustainability and the environment in the 21st century, and looks at how the dye is once again growing in popularity thanks to an increased demand for organic clothing made from eco-friendly materials. It is far more relevant today because synthetic dyes made from toxic ingredients and used by the textile and fashion industries are creating a large amount waste that is polluting the planet. Natural indigo is made from plants and is a non-toxic product that enriches the soil. In hotter climates indigo can be farmed in rotation with other crops, or on waste land, and it also provides employment in rural regions. Currently, one of Jenny Balfour-Paul's projects is to encourage worldwide revivals
of sustainable natural dyes. The book is beautifully illustrated with over 435 images that show how the dye has featured in different cultures and communities throughout the world. Jenny's experience as a batik artist and teacher is evident in her exploration of how indigo has been portrayed in folklore and through art, exemplified by some stunning photographs of textiles. Indigo has been the symbol for a diverse range of beliefs, highly prized in some cultures, for thousands of years. Strongly associated with wealth, fertility, rites of passage and even in mourning ceremonies, indigo has always been a desirable commodity. Nothing is left out that anyone with an interest in the development of indigo could possibly want to know, from the agricultural and botanical origins to the commerce and economics of the dye. (Jo Wyndham Ward Jo Wyndham Ward Blog 2011-10-25)

Capturing a tapestry of cultural importance around the world author Jenny Balfour-Paul has dedicated most of her life to researching the history of the indigo dye, and gives an in depth explanation of why it's so important now. Following the oldest dye in the world really makes you understand how powerful this dye was for royalty and for trading throughout the ages right up to modern day. If you're interested in the production of dyeing or you're in an art program at school this is a book you want to have for your archives. For denim lovers (the denim industry is the largest user of indigo dye) and design enthusiasts, the book will offer new insight into the process of dyeing denim and fabric. I find myself coming back to this book for inspiration, it has become my definitive guide for textiles, history, and plant based dyes, straight through to synthetic. (Think Magazine 2012-08-07)

Historical reflections on the cultivation, use, and politics in this world of blues--from India to Palestine to the Solomon Islands to Nigeria.... Stunningly illustrated and richly researched, Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans tells the history of the dye set against the backdrop of an industrial world. (Julie Foreword Reviews 2012-03-06)

This beautifully illustrated volume presents many details on the history, creation, use and significance of indigo dye.... Balfour-Paul communicates her fascination with indigo, and the many compelling photographs are a treat. (Kathryn Wekselman Library Journal 2012-08-01)

About the Author

Jenny Balfour-Paul, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter and a Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club, is a partner in "Silk Road Connect", an exciting educational initiative of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project. She is also a Councillor and Trustee of the Royal Geographical Society and President of the UK Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. A renowned authority on indigo, Jenny has been publishing, lecturing, exhibiting and broadcasting on dye and related subjects for well over twenty years.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa11793d8) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa117ffc0) out of 5 stars THE reference book on indigo March 2 2013
By Paula Bernard - Published on
A magical topic. Full of fascinating facts and inspiring images from the world over, this is my reference book on indigo. Keep coming back to it for history and ideas on colour, plants and organic processes, dyeing techniques and patterning, cultural traditions. I lost my original copy, and was delighted to find this latest edition has a fascinating new chapter on blue jeans and the future of natural indigo - currently being revived in France, India, Japan and many other countries serious about ethical, ecologically sound, sustainable production. Also a really important education project with young people of Harlem NYC for which Balfour Paul was consultant, initiated by Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road team - connecting everyday blue jeans to history of world trade, including slavery.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa11823e4) out of 5 stars Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans Nov. 23 2012
By Nancy Page - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you have ever been interested in how our color pallet came about you will treasure this book. it is a must have to any dyers library
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa118230c) out of 5 stars Thoroughly researched and documented with references Jan. 27 2014
By Fiberguy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are really interested in the influence this one dyestuff has had historically and culturally, this book is an excellent source. The photographs and illustrations are great and the layout and quality of the printing is quite good.

The writing is academic and a bit ponderous. There are levels of detail that many of us, who just want to become better informed, could do without. There is also very little material on the current state of the art for current indigo usage in industrial production. We are presented a lot of material about native and small lot dyeing that could have been placed into better perspective with at least a photograph and short write-up of a modern continuous denim dye range as a contrast.

An informative book, but certainly NOT light reading!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1182204) out of 5 stars Detailed research Dec 31 2014
By Scrupulous Researcher - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Detailed, meticulously researched information on indigo and its history. Whether you are a textile historian or a fiber artist, the technical information in this book is of great value.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa11823f0) out of 5 stars Terrific book for dyers and those wishing to understand the ... Dec 10 2015
By Ann Graham - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author clearly has spent her professional life fully researching indigo, it's origins and history. Terrific book for dyers and those wishing to understand the all aspects of this amazing blue dye!