Dyes – How natural and synthetic cloth dyes are manufactured

Ever wondered how manufacturers come up with differently colored clothing wear that can match and even surpass the colors of the rainbow? Colored clothing material is made possible by cloth dyes.

Most cloth dyes make use of chemicals that can be poisonous when large amounts are accidentally swallowed. However, most of the cloth dyes commonly use din the households are made of substances that are non poisonous including salts, pigments and mild soaps. However, these cloth dyes can still be dangerous so care should be observed when handling them.

There was a time when textiles and clothing wear were colored using natural dyes which were sourced from plants and animals. However, new advances in science in the 1800s allowed the production of synthetic substitutes for natural dyes. The use of natural dyes is preferred considering that it is not toxic and does not hurt the environment.

Natural Dyes

Natural dyes can be classified depending on their sources. Those that are sourced from plants are called indigo, those from minerals are called ocher while those sourced from animals are called cochineal. Among the fabrics which can be easily colored by simply dipping them into the dye are wool and silk. Cotton however requires a mordant to hasten the chemical reaction so that the dye is easily absorbed by the fabric. Natural dyes for cotton rely on mordants like copper, chromium, iron and metallic aluminum salts to ensure the fastness of its colors when washed and dried in the sun.

Substantive dyes do not require mordants before they can easily be absorbed by fabrics. On the other hand, adjective dyes need mordants to be absorbed by the fabrics. If you are making natural dyes then make sure to use non reactive containers like stainless steel and enamel as oppose to iron or copper pots which can easily react with the dye.

The problem with natural dyes is the lack of consistency in their colors. Each natural dye has a unique color which may be exciting to the paint manufacturers but is frustrating to the pharmacology technicians. To standardize the colors of natural dyes, pharmacology technicians came up with a color index for natural dyes which requires that each dye is named using the pattern natural plus base color plus number.

There are various plants from which natural dyes are sourced including berries, field madder and dandelion root for the colors pink and red, walnut husks, and onion skins and lichens for the color brown and its various shades, St. John’s Wort and Goldenrod are the sources for the color yellow, cornflour and wild pansy are the sources for the color blue while sorrel and foxglove are the sources for the color green.

To make natural cloth dye you just have to boil the plants until the color comes out. Then soak the fabric in the boiling water to get the desired color. Using a mordant will permanently set the dye into the fabric.

Cochineal dye is sourced from the cochineal bug which thrived in the cactus plants. The Indians discovered the coloring property of the bugs. The bugs, which are dried out under the sun, produce a rich red powder when grounded. This produced the red coloring when mixed with water.

Synthetic Dyes

Today, most textile manufactures use synthetic dyes to color their products not only because of the ease with which it can be produced but also the accuracy of its colors. Synthetic dyes also have good color fastness which is not usually found in natural dyes.

Synthetic dyes were discovered in the latter part of the 19th century. Aniline dyes or synthetic dyes, which were produced from coal tar derivatives, produced more vibrant colors that did not wash off from the fabrics compared to the natural dyes.

The first aniline dye named ‘mauve’ was discovered by William Perkin in 1856 when he was an 18-year old student studying chemistry. This revolutionized the dyeing industry which relied on inconsistent and unreliable natural dyes.

T-shirts – The history and possible origins of the t-shirt

T-shirts are considered simple and comfortable clothing wear and unlike haute couture which can get anyone’s attention immediately there is nothing remarkable about wearing a t-shirt. However, the ever-reliable t-shirt is as much a part of history as the people who made it.

The t-shirt is a very political piece of apparel and none of the other clothing wears, except perhaps the bra, can lay claim to such a significant role in society. Before the industrial revolution, clothing was just considered one of the three basic needs of man apart from food and housing. And like the other basic needs, clothing was worn to keep man warm. Thus, clothing consisted of hand-stitched materials sans the artistic characteristics that today’s clothing boast of.

The growth of the t-shirt industry started side by side with the industrial revolution as the latter allowed the mass production of t-shirts. The United States and Europe share the history of t-shirt because while the cotton material from which t-shirts were originally made was sourced from the US, it was the Europeans who first manufactured t-shirts as underwear.

However, this does not discount the fact that the t-shirt may have originated from the Egyptian Tunic which was used by Egyptian farmers thousands of years ago. The tunic, which was worn under the Egyptian toga, is either plain or with stripes depending on the status of the wearer in the Roman society.

One significantly humorous timeline in the history of t-shirts was during World War II when the American soldiers, who were sweating it out under their woolen uniforms, noticed how comfortable the European soldiers were in their undershirts made of cotton. The War was ultimately won and lost depending on which side you are on but American won because the soldiers were able to bring back one important clothing item—the t-shirt.

While the working class in America sweated it out under their vests, the European workers worked manually wearing only their t-shirts. But this was changed in the 20th century when t-shirt became a popular clothing wear not only in Europe and American but all over the world.

T-shirts are an important part not only of history but of economics considering the multi-billion industry spawned by the t-shirt business. If you don’t believe this then take note that at least two billion t-shirts are sold all over the world every year. Millions of t-shirts are donated to the Salvation Army annually and these are auctioned off to third world countries.

Through the years, the t-shirt has become an important propaganda and marketing tool not only for politicians but for corporate entities as well. The movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ which was shown in 1939 got a lot of help from the promotional t-shirts featuring the movie’s characters. Marlon Brando’s fans would never forget the body-fitting t-shirt he wore in the play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ in the 1950s. More than $8 million worth of t-shirts helped launch the career of Farrah Fawcett in 1977.

The t-shirt may have been in existence since the ancient Egyptian era but it is ironic that Webster’s Dictionary only listed it as part of the book’s official word in 1920.

T-shirts are part of the American life as much as French fries and burgers. It may be nearing a hundred years old but its popularity is growing and does not show any sign of going down. This is evident with the result of a survey which shows that over 62% of people in the US of all age bracket own at least, not one, but ten t-shirts. Those within the ages of 18 to 24 however claimed they own more than 10 t-shirts.

Today, you can find t-shirts in all colors screaming the headlines of the society. It is popularly used as a tool to promote political statements, corporate promotions and even sports events. Rock bands have made millions from t-shirts printed with their names and images.

Facebook – Privacy changes (December 2009)

Facebook will soon be implementing privacy changes shortly will will involve the elimination of the current regional friend networks which exist. This change is being justified by the fact that most regional networks have become so large that privacy changes based upon restricting within these groups becomes meaningless or alternatively too restrictive.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, wrote the following in an open letter to Facebook.

“However, as Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and weve concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy. Almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, so this is an important issue for us. If we can build a better system, then more than 100 million people will have even more control of their information.

The plan weve come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone.

Were adding something that many of you have asked for – the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload. In addition, well also be fulfilling a request made by many of you to make the privacy settings page simpler by combining some settings. If you want to read more about this, we began discussing this plan back in July.

Since this update will remove regional networks and create some new settings, in the next couple of weeks well ask you to review and update your privacy settings. Youll see a message that will explain the changes and take you to a page where you can update your settings. When youre finished, well show you a confirmation page so you can make sure you chose the right settings for you. As always, once youre done youll still be able to change your settings whenever you want.”

What do you think? Should Facebook change to this system? Are the regional networking features redundant now or are regional networks useful to you?

Ubuntu 9.10 Release

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala coming soonUbuntu 9.10, the user-friendly, free, Linux-based operating system, is to be released tomorrow (the 29th of October 2009). Canonical, Ubuntu’s corporate sponsor, states that Ubuntu 9.10, codenamed Karmic Koala, ‘puts the user at the heart of its new design’, and being an Ubuntu user myself for about three years and a Linux user for significantly longer, I can certainly agree.

Having been a tester of Ubuntu 9.10 during its development, I can tell you that Ubuntu 9.10 will feature the following upon its release.

  • E-mail and Chat Features – Ubuntu 9.10 will feature a built-in instant messenging client, Empathy, which can connect to many of the most popular instant messaging services, including Yahoo, Gmail (Google Talk), MSN (Windows Live), Jabber, AOL, QQ and many more. In addition to instant messaging, the latest version of the e-mail and personal information management program, Evolution, is included. Evolution can manage your contacts, e-mail, schedule, tasks and memos – all for free.
  • Internet – Ubuntu 9.10 ships will the very latest version of Mozilla Firefox, which is much faster and excellent for browsing modern websites and web applications which are heavy on dynamic client-side content, such as Javascript. Complex web pages such as Facebook, Google Maps and others will load and work lightning fast.
  • Music and videos – Music and videos are managed with ease in Ubuntu 9.10. Simply plug in your iPod, PSP, MP3 or MP4 player and use the built-in media player, Rhytmbox, to download, store, buy and play your music collection. Ubuntu 9.10 can play many video formats with no problems and anything it can not play it will offer to download and install the required codecs automatically, and for free.
  • Office and productivity – Word processing, spreadsheets or presentations can all be handled by the latest version of OpenOffice.org which is including in the latest version of Ubuntu. OpenOffice is compatible with all other office applications including, but not limited to, Microsoft Office.
  • Store, share and synchronise – Ubuntu 9.10 features integrated ‘Ubuntu One’ service, which allows you to easily and seamlessly synchronise your contacts, notes, files and folders between all your Ubuntu computers. Even if you are on a computer running Mac or Windows you can still access all your files online, meaning you’ll never be at computer without your files.
  • Software centre – The brand new software centre for this version of Ubuntu allows you to download and install thousands of free and open-source applications automatically with only 2 or 3 clicks.
  • Gaming – Linux-based systems are generally not well known for their gaming prowess. However, Ubuntu 9.10 ships with the ability to download over 400 fun games directly from the built-in software centre. All these games are still completely free and installable with only a few clicks.

This latest version of Ubuntu provides advantages for both business workstations and home user desktops. Although not mentioned in this article so far, for enterprises and small home/offices, the server edition of Ubuntu 9.10 is also released tomorrow alongside the desktop edition.

For more information about Ubuntu, visit the official Ubuntu website.