chintz

Chintz is a type of printed cotton cloth. The word comes from Hindi, chint, meaning ‘bright, clear, many-coloured, distinctively marked’ (the word cheetah has the same origin.) This leopard print chintz was designed by Rose Cumming (1887-1968), a Sydney-born textile designer and interior decorator who made her career in New York. Stranded there (while en route to Paris) in 1917 because of transport issues related to WWI, by 1921 Rose had a decorating business alongside an antique and fabric shop. She designed andRead more

turquoise

The modern name for the blue-green mineral – one of the very first to be mined – comes from an Old French word for Turkish. The name dates from the 16th century when the mineral was brought to France from Turkey. Turquoise was thought to have protective and preventative qualities, and to change colour depending on its wearer’s state of health, and  fortune.Read more

copper

Copper is named for one of the important places it was mined – Cyprus. We get the word copper from Latin cuprum or cyprium: metal of Cyprus (from Greek, Kyprios). Copper salts give minerals a blue or green colour and were often used as pigments… Paris Green and Egyptian Blue are examples.   (Image: Detail, de Young museum, San Francisco / Chris Reddaway)Read more

garance, indigo + gaude

Garance, indigo and gaude are words which refer to the colours produced by plant dyes used in traditional fabric dying. Garance produces a red dye, indigo a blue dye and gaude a yellow dye. Garance refers to a red dye made from varieties of the Madder plant. Common Madder (Rubia tinctorum) was used extensively in French textile production. A problem for French textile workers was getting the red colour developed in France to match the intense red made in IndiaRead more