The Art of Dyeing. No. 36. Dyeing Straw.

Scientific American 51, 1.9.1855


Into a clean copper kettle containing two gallons of boiling water, put four ounces of alum, and about forty drops of the muriate of tin, and boil two hats in this for half an hour, then lift them. Now throw out the liquor in the kettle and put in the same amount of clean hot water, and the clear liquor of half a pound of logwood well boiled. Let the hats now be entered in this and boiled for twenty minutes; then take them out, wash them, and they are done. A little sumac added to the preparing liquor improves the color. For a darker color, add more dye stuffs.

Alkanet root makes a very beautiful light purple color on chip hats. Boil one hat in one gallon of water with six ounces of alkanet root, and half an ounce of alum, for one hour; then lift and wash.

Green Color.

To two gallons of boiling water in a kettle, add two ounces of the extract of indigo, two ounces of alum, one-quarter of an ounce of sugar of lead, and the clear liquor of half a pound of fustic well boiled. Let two hats be boiled in this for twenty minutes, then lifted out and washed. A kind of greenish slate color, sometimes fashionable, is dyed on straw hats, by coloring them a light blue first, with the prussiate of potash and copperas, and then dipping them for fifteen minutes in a weak fustic liquor.

Many dyers use turmeric for dyeing the yellow of their greens on straw, but this is wrong, as this color cannot stand exposure for more than it few hours to bright sunlight. Fustic, therefore is the best coloring material for the yellow of straw hats dyed green. Ebony is also good, but is too expensive.


Straw can be dyed a beautiful yellow with the bichromate of potash and lead. The straw is handled for about fifteen minutes, in a warm liquor containing three ounces of sugar of lead dissolved, then lifted and introduced into another warm liquor containing one ounce of the prussiate of potash dissolved, and in which it is handled for ten or fifteen minutes. These quantities of dye stuffs will dye one pound of straw. We have never seen yellow straw hats, but no one can account for fashionable taste — such hats may yet adorn the heads of our gay belles.

Maroon and Crimson

Into a clean kettle containing four gallons of hot water, near the boiling point, add four ounces of alum, a wine glass full of the muriate of tin, and two ounces of sumac. Handle three straw hats in this for half an hour; then lift them, cool, and rinse in six gallons of clean cold water. Clean out the kettle, and put into it four gallons of hot water, and the liquor of one pound of peachwood well boiled, and tour ounces of logwood; handle the hats is this at a scalding heat for one hour, and they will be a maroon. With one half the quantity of logwood, they will be a crimson. Dark colored straw bonnets must be washed well in cold water before they are dried.

Cudbear dyes a number of beautiful shades of ruby color. Take one pound of cudbear and place it in a vessel containing four gallons of water, and one ounce of soda, and boil three hats in it for half an hour, then take them out and they will he a beautiful color.

The size that is used for stiffening colored straw bats, is white glue. It is dissolved in hot water, then suffered to cool before it is used. It is better to dip the hats in a solution of this size, than to rub it on as some do, with is sponge. Black straw hats should be dipped into a hot solution of glue, for stiffening; it takes away all the brownish appearance of an excess of logwood, and leaves them a shining jet color. Gum arabice kept dissolved in a bottle, is put on black straw bats with a sponge after they are pressed, to give them a glossy appearance.

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