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Bed Curtain
MFA# 53.2201


1) A substance, usually a water-soluble metal salt, capable of binding a dye to a textile fiber. he mordant forms an insoluble lake in the fiber. The color of the dye varies with the composition of the mordant. The most common chemical mordants were Aluminum potassium sulfate (alum), Tartaric acid (cream of tartar), Potassium dichromate (chrome), Sodium chloride (table salt), Ferrous sulfate (iron), Stannous chloride (tin), Copper sulfate (blue vitriol), Sodium sulfate (Glaubers salt), Calcium oxide (lime), Acetic acid (vinegar) and Sodium carbonate (washing soda).

2) An adhesive or size used to bind pigments or gold and silver leaf to a surface. Gum and Glair were used as aqueous based mordants.

3) A corrosive substance used to etch plates of glass or steel. Glass is etched with Hydrofluoric acid to produce a matte or frosted surface.

4) A binder, papermaker's alum, used to fix rosin size to paper fibers.

Synonyms and Related Terms

mordiente (Esp.); bijtmidde (Ned); beitsmiddel (Ned); etsvloeistof (Ned); Beizmittel (Deut.); mordant (Fr.); mordente (Port.)

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 520
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • Rosalie Rosso King, Textile Identification, Conservation, and Preservation, Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ, 1985
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982