This talk Susan entitled Poo, Poison, Science and Serendipity and I am sure I was not the only one to be intrigued by what was to come. She is a great collector of fabric and thread sample books and we found it fascinating to see how her research over the years has shown the development of both natural and synthetic dyes. I never realised that guano was collected and used to make a yellow dye and that green, which was made with arsenic, became very popular in the early 1800s. This material put the weaver, the maker and the wearer at risk and we were shown a sketch published in 1861 by Punch which was entitled the Arsenic Waltz.
Credit – A skeleton gentleman at a ball asks a skeleton lady to dance; representing the effect of arsenical dyes and pigments in clothing and accessories. Wood engraving, 1862. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY
Credit: Image below taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Eug%C3%A8ne_Chevreul
Credit: Image below taken from Dr Susan Kay Williams’ presentation
Report by Ros