LOGWOOD CHIPS (Haematoxylon campechianum; Lignum campeche): Yucatan tree with blood-red heartwood discovered by Portuguese traders c.AD 1500. Not noted in writing until nearly 20 years later but it seems unlikely that such avid traders would keep a good dye off the market that long.
Dye chemical: tannin, quercetin, and haematein, released only through aging or fermenting the wood. Needs oxygen to develop color but once oxidized it can turn dull, useful only to produce blacks and purplish grays. “Logwood Gray” is a mix of iron and logwood for lightfast grays to blacks. It was banned several times during the Renaissance because it faded; logwood must be fermented, mordanted, then dyed twice to stay color-fast.
Strong on wool, beautiful on silk, not lightfast on cotton. Logwood dye extract gives lavenders to purples; the more extract used, the darker the hue, a lovely color for hand-painting or artwork. Logwood is mentioned as a Japanese dye c.AD 710; likely a related Asian wood.
AKA: Blackwood, bloodwood tree (H. campechianum), blue-wood, brazilletto, brazilette, (H. brasiletto), brazilosimile, American redwood, blackwood, caeruleo tingens, campeachy, campeachy wood, capuchina, chip’d logwood, honds, honduras, India wood, Jamaica logwood, lignum campeche, palo de campeche, peachwood, natural black food coloring #1, Nicaragua wood, hypernick, [Fr] bois bleu, bois d’Inde, [Ger] das blauholz, [Nahuatl]: curaque, uitzquaitl (‘Spiny tree’). [Dominican Republic]
Alum mordant: blue to purple
Copper mordant: drab purple-gray to brown
Iron mordant: gray to black
Tin mordant: purple