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If plants that yield yellow dyes are common, plants that yield green dyes are rare. Both woad and indigo have been used since ancient times in combination with yellow dyes to produce shades of green. Medieval and Early Modern England was especially known for its green dyes. The dyers of Lincoln, a great cloth town in the high Middle Ages, produced the Lincoln green cloth associated with Robin Hood by dyeing wool with woad and then overdyeing it yellow with weld or dyer's greenweed (Genista tinctoria), also known as dyer's broom. Woolen cloth mordanted with alum and dyed yellow with dyer's greenweed was overdyed with woad and, later, indigo, to produce the once-famous Kendal green. This in turn fell out of fashion in the 18th century in favor of the brighter Saxon green, dyed with indigo and fustic.
Soft olive greens are also achieved when textiles dyed yellow are treated with an iron mordant. The dull green cloth common to the Iron Age Halstatt culture shows traces of iron, and was possibly colored by boiling yellow-dyed cloth in an iron pot. Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Plateau in North America used lichen to dye corn husk bags a beautiful sea green.
Navajo textile artist Nonabah Gorman Bryan developed a two-step process for creating green dye. First the Churro wool yarn is dyed yellow with sagebrush, Artemisia tridentata, and then it is soaked in black dye afterbath. Red onion skins are also used by Navajo dyers to produce green.
Green was popular for house interiors, and embodied youthfulness, (as in the colour of the Spring landscape), health-giving qualities and fertility. 'Giving a girl a green gown' means doing things that would get grass stains all over her dress. Green may also have had an earthy, rustic association (as in Chaucer's Yeoman). Oddly enough, green was also regarded until quite recently (even by the Irish) as an 'unlucky' colour, symbolising the decay after death, with pagan and supernatural connotations. Green seems to have been popular as a contrast to red, instead of blue. Buckthorn berries and logwood are both sources of green dye, and combining woad and weld dyes and other common vegetable dyes could produce colours varying from muddy green to emerald to spring green. The richest and brightest greens (rather than dark greens) are often depicted on rich people, and the green emerald was one of the most sought-after precious stones.
To make a green dye, take verdigris and boil it in urine and mix alum thereto and a portion of gum arabic, and dye therewith; to make the color lighter, take the same color and add orpiment and mix it with alum, cooked in lime water (vinegar?) and dye therewith.
One should take elder and boil it in alumwater, that makes a green color and also a black, if one mixes it with a bit of black color.
ABOVE, center: a light yellow scarf (weld) was dipped once in indigo to make pale green.
The Color Green
The Meaning of the color Green
The color and material used in Elizabethan Clothing was extremely important. People who could wear the color Green was dictated by English Law! These were called the Sumptuary Laws. The colors of Elizabethan clothes, including the color Green, provided information about the status of the man or woman wearing them. This was not just dictated by the wealth of the person, it also reflected their social standing. The meaning of colors during the Elizabethan era represented many aspects of their life - the social, religious, biblical and Christian symbolism was reflected in the color Green!
The Symbolic and Religious Meaning of the color Green
Some interesting facts and information about the symbolic, religious, Christian and Biblical meaning of the color Green
The symbolic meaning of the color green was renewal of life and nature
Green also has a Biblical meaning and is the Christian color for the season of Epiphany
Cheap dyes were used to produce the color green from woad and lichen dyes, and other common vegetable dyes which could produce a variety of green colors
Lichen - A plant of the division Lichenes which occur as crusty patches or bushy growths on tree trunks or rocks or bare ground etc - a source of green dye
The color green is closely associated with the medieval legend of Robin Hood
People who were allowed to wear the color green during the Elizabethan era, as decreed by the English Sumptuary Laws, were lower and upper classes
The Dye used to produce the color Green
Some interesting facts and information about the dyes used to produce the color. Lichen - A plant of the division Lichenes which occur as crusty patches or bushy growths on tree trunks or rocks or bare ground etc - a source of green dye. Used to produce cloth dyed in various shades of green.