Dictionarium polygraphicum. The method of making a vat, and preparing hot suds for dying linen and woollen BLUE

Have a vat made big enough to contain eight pails of water, wide at the top, and narrow at the bottom; season it for a day and night with hot water, and afterwards wash it out with cold, then cut a four-square hole at about the height of twenty one inches, and fourteen broad; and have a copper plate made of the same thickness with the wood of the vat; nail this upon the hole, placing the nails at the distance of the breadth of two fingers one from the other; the nails must be small with broad heads to prevent its leaking; then place an iron hoop at the top and another at the bottom of the copper.

The hole must be made about a hand's breadth from the bottom of the vat.

When this has been done, plaister or brick it about, either leaving or making a hole in the plaister or brick-work, wider at the utmost end (and a little) narrower at that which comes to the copper itself; the shape of it being like an oven's mouth, that the wood be not injured, when the fire to heat the vat of suds is put into this vacancy.

Then for every half pound of indigo, you put in, in order to blue linen or woollen, take in eight pails of water, and into that six handfuls of coarse wheaten bran, six or nine ounces of madder, a pound and half of pot ashes; pour them all into a copper to make suds, and when the liquor boils so as to begin to swell and bubble up, throw in two or three quarts of cold water, and rake out the fire from under the copper.

Then having ready lime, prepar'd as the tanners use it, plaister the inside of the empty vat with a handful or two of it, and afterwards pour all the ingredients out of the kettle into it, and cover it very close.

The day before you do this, you must put your indigo to dissolve in a quart or three pints of water in a clean vessel of iron or brass, adding half a handful of wheaten bran, and half a ladle full of madder, and half an ounce of pot-ashes, and leave it a whole night over a coal fire; but it must not be suffered to boil, or grow hotter, than you can bear your hand in it.

You must also grind it with a pestle, till it becomes as soft as pap, and is quite cleared of all roughness or harshness; which being done, it is fit to be put into the vat to the other ingredients.

Then stir it about three or four times with a stick; then cover it up close, and let it stand to settle twelve hours; then take off the cover, and put in half a quarter of an ounce of quick silver, and stir it about and cover it as before; then let it stand to settle for six hours; after which, throw in a small ladle full of lime dust or powder, or of the same that you before plaistered the vat with; then cover it close again, and let it stand for three hours longer, and then put in half an ounce of pot-ashes; flir it well about again, and put a coal fire in the hole before the copper plate in order to keep it warm, and let it stand three hours longer; after which, nothing is to be added, only stir it as before, and in an hour or two after you may dye with it as follows.

Hang five pieces of goods in it, keeping the bran and flour, &c. from it with your hand, to prevent its touching the linen as much as possible; wring the five pieces out one against another, then try by feeling with your finger, whether the dye be harsh, or soft and smooth, if it feels too rough, throw in half an ounce of pot-ashes; and if it be too smooth, add half a ladle full of lime.

Work the cloth or linen in it for two hours, put in five fresh pieces, and work them like the former, and when they are dry, wring them a second or third time in the dye, till they become of a colour as deep as you would have them.

Your dye may be wrought in this manner, till you have dyed thirty pieces, and afterwards if you would dye any woollen wares stockings or yarn, take a couple of pails full of water, into which put two handfuls of wheaten bran, and an ounce of madder, and a quarter of a pound of pot-ashes, and hang it over the fire and boil it to the suds as before; then put it into the vat, and after you have stir'd it well about, let it stand to settle three hours.

Then try with your finger whether it is harsh or smooth; if it be too harsh, add half an ounce of pot-ashes, and if too smooth, add half a ladle full of lime, and stir it about again.

If you would dye woollen ware alone, without linen, prepare a liquor of a sufficient quantity of hot water, a handful of madder, and a handful or two of wheaten bran, boil them together, and wet the silken or woollen manufactures therein, hang them up and let them drop as long as they will; then put them into the abovementioned dye vat, letting them lie there till they are ting’d of as deep a colour as you would have them.

If you would dye your wares green, they must be first dyed yellow with broom or dyers weed, call'd also yellow weed, and then put into the beforementioned blue vat; but you must take notice that they must not be wetted in madder water, as the blue, and must be taken out of the vat as soon as they are dyed enough.

But you must be sure not to dye above half a dozen pair of stockings, or a proportionate quantity of other woollen ware, before you put in your linen, which must be covered close for half an hour, as soon as they have been put into the vat; then they must be wrung well about, then it must be let settle again, and wrung out again, and afterwards draw them out.

Then stir the dye again very well, and add a little lime or pot ashes, according as either of them is wanted, and after that let it stand to settle for two hours, and then put in other goods to dye, which work as before, stirring it every two hours.

If you find the liquor does not dye or work well, let it rest a day and night, keeping the fire to it all the while, and add half an ounce of fænugreek powdered, and stir it well about, and the dye will come to itself again.

If you have so many things to be dyed, that you have occasion to augment the quantity of indigo to two or three pound, yet you need not make your madder, pot-ash and bran-liquor stronger than double the quantity of what is above prescribed for half a pound.

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