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Old December 13th, 2014, 08:31 AM   #1
Paul Smith
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Join Date: May 2008
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Default Alizarin question...HELP!

I've been in a discussion on a website devoted to the world of violins and luthiers and whatnot, and the topic came up asking about alizarin, a red dye which was first synthesized in 1868. They are using it as a component of violin varnish and were wondering about its light-fastness, etc. I cavalierly volunteered that along with all those evil aniline dyes, alizarin also must be fugitive to light and demonstrate all the bad behavior we despise in 19th-c. synthetic dyes. I posted images of the front and back of a piece of mine showing a potent raspberry shade on the back fading to a much more pleasing peach color on the front. I'll be honest--I assumed it was the same as aniline/azo, etc. dyes.

But I think I am completely wrong about this!

As I did more research, I quickly realized that alizarin is the main "red" chemical component in madder root! It sure sounds like alizarin would behave as it does when it's in madder; that it is more similar to synthetic indigo, which it is my understanding is chemically identical to natural indigo.

So, hoping that someone might set me straight (Pierre?) on the pressing issue of my embarrassing ignorance in another forum, I also wondered how soon alizarin was adopted by rug weavers. Could this be a synthetic dye that was being used by weavers by 1880 or so and completely fooling us because it is essentially the same as madder?
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