Isabella Whitworth

probably more than natural and synthetic dyes, wax, resists, and history

Research and Publications

Research work and publications: 2008 –

Research into Yorkshire Chemicals archive with initial assistance from The Worshipful Company of Dyers; 2008

Research trip to Galicia, Spain, to study traditional methods of orchil dyeing with Anna Champeney; 2008

Research trip to Ecuador; lecture to Biology Department at the Universidad Central del Ecuador, Quito; 2008

An Archive and Beyond for the Journal for Weavers Spinners and Dyers 227, p 6 -8; 2008 Downloadable via this page

The Dyer’s Tale given to the conference on Sustainability for the Worshipful Company of Dyers, 2009

A Leeds Archive Rediscovered and the Orchil Trail to Ecuador delivered at DHA (Dyes in History and Archaeology) in Posnan, Poland; 2009

The Orchil Trail: from Portugal and Angola delivered at DHA Lisbon; 2010

An Unsustainable Demand  delivered to the Textile Society Conference; 2010. Published in Text, Volume 38: 2010-11, pp 4- 9

Beyond the Archive – to Ecuador for the Journal for Weavers Spinners and Dyers issue 233; 2010

Poster presentation: A Leeds Company and the C19th Orchil Trade. Expanding trade : diminishing stocks, ISEND (International Symposium and Exhibition on Natural Dyes) La Rochelle, France, 2011

J. M. Despréaux’ lichens from the Canary Islands and West Africa: an account of a 19th century collection found in an English archive; Aguirre-Hudson B, Whitworth I, Spooner BM; Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2001; 166(2): pp 185-211

Hunting Purple, Filling Buses: lecture to 6 Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers’ event Colour and Creation at Stratford on Avon, September 2013

Treasures from a Leeds Dye Chemist: A Century-Old “Tyrian Purple”?. Delivered at DHA (Dyes in History and Archaeology) La Rochelle, October 2013. Joint paper with  Professor Zvi C. Koren, The Edelstein Center for the Analysis of Ancient Artifacts, Shenkar College of Engineering and Design.

Orchil and Tyrian Purple: Two Centuries of Bedfords from Leeds; Isabella Whitworth and Zvi C. Koren; Ambix, Vol. 63, Iss.3, 2016, pp 244 – 267

Wood & Bedford / Yorkshire Chemicals Archive; paper presented at DHA Conference, Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court, October 2017

Tyrian Treasure: A Surprise from the Archive for the Journal for Weavers Spinners and Dyers 265, 2018. Read online here

Towards the identification of the lichen species in historical orchil dyes by HPLC-MS/MS  Elisa Calà, Marcello Benzi, Fabio Gosetti, Andrea Zanin, Monica Gulmini, Ambra Idone, Ilaria Serafini, Alessandro Ciccola, Roberto Curini, Isabella Whitworth, Maurizio Aceto; Michrochemical Journal, Vol. 150, November 2019

Contributor to Dyeing Now: Contemporary Makers Celebrate Ethel Mairet’s Legacy, initially an exhibition involving international dyers who recreated many of the recipes in Mairet’s 1916 A Book on Vegetable Dyes. Now a publication available from Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft

Chapter entitled Cloth Dyes and Dyeing co-authored with Jenny Balfour Paul for Cloth book of an Exeter wool merchant, 1763-1765, edited by Todd Gray for for Devon and Cornwall Record Society; published by Boydell & Brewer, February 2021 

Chapter on eighteenth century dyeing for Bluestockings co-edited by Kate Davies and Nicole Pohl, published by KDD & Co, 2021

Guest blogs:

Plant Scientist published March 3, 2016 An unsustainable trade 

The National Archives in their series Connecting Collections, a series of blogs by academic researchers exploring connections between archives across the UK and around the world. Published May 18, 2017 A Purple Pursuit

Research co-operation

Assisting research into orchil in tapestries undertaken by Maria Jordan at Hampton Court Palace: published online by the Institute of Conservation  Recreating the life of a tapestry: Fading dyes and the impact of the tapestry image (2012)

Assisting researchers and conservators in possible application techniques, and analysis of ‘Purple Parchments’, such as the 9th Century Krönungsevangeliar: 2012 – 2014

Dye research experiments with Jane Deane using five historical British fleeces, undertaken at Leewood.  With assistance from The Worshipful Company of Dyers. For details, see Leewood page

Work with Dr Maurizio Aceto, Dipartimento di Scienze e Innovazione Tecnologica, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale, on purple pigments found on medieval parchments. His findings presented at DHA Glasgow, 2014

Consultant on dyestuff, recipes and techniques connected with conservation and research of the Vienna Genesis, held in the Austrian National Library. Research now available online here