Friday, 11 June 2010
I think you know already that I am an inveterate reader of just about anything. Well, just last week I was reading the fine print on a DMC shade card. This is what I read: The solid colours of DMC Mouline threads bear the OEKO-TEX label. They therefore meet human ecology standards with respect to harmful substances. This is a relief to know - but I wonder if in the past things were different. I remember my mother telling me off for nipping embroidery threads with my lips before threading my needle - and the same with loaded watercolour paintbrushes when I wanted a delicate line. Once in the USA I bought a whole lot of delicious(!) green water colour paints which were unobtainable in the UK. The reason I later discovered was that the chemical consituents of these shades were phthalates, banned here on safety grounds. In earlier times the chemical constituent of green dyes was....Arsenic! There are tales of poor wilting Parisian flower girls who made flower leaves with green dye. In fact the colour green could and did fell whole families. It was impregnated into textiles, playing cards and even wallpaper. The compound was so unstable that the slightest draught (we have a few of those in the UK) was enough to create toxic arsenical puffs which would lead to death in a couple of weeks. The scandal was terrible and when it broke Queen Victoria had all green wallpaper removed from Buckingham Palace. But deadliest of all was the green cardigan when protecting bare arms. On a happier note, I have a Pearsall's shade card on my desk looking for a happy home. Be assured that none of the Pearsall's colours are toxic. If you would like to leave a comment here then on Sunday afternoon I shall make a draw and send the shade card to whoever is first picked out of the bag. If you are interested in reading more about the green dyes, then my source is The Arsenic Century by James C Whorton.
Posted by N E E D L E P R I N T at 18:28