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How Jeans Got Their Fade

Peter Campbell: Mauve and indigo, 14 December 2000

Indigo 
by Jenny Balfour-Paul.
British Museum, 264 pp., £19.99, October 2000, 0 7141 2550 4
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Mauve: How One Man Invented a Colour that Changed the World 
by Simon Garfield.
Faber, 222 pp., £9.99, September 2000, 0 571 20197 0
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... The cloth when taken from the vat of greenish dye turned blue on exposure to the air. In Indigo, Jenny Balfour-Paul glosses these processes scientifically. The first surprise is that indigo, the dye of dyes, is in some ways more like a pigment. It needs no mordant, even on non-absorbent fabrics like cotton. Tiny particles, not individual ...

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