Vats Dye-house

This archaeological area is characterised by the preservation of the granite cylindrical wells used for laying the wooden vats. These big containers aimed to dye the cloths with pastel or indigo, using a fermentation process as well as to other dyeing operations as the mordant process. Furthermore, the containers were used for the final washing of the cloths that had already been dyed in heated baths in the copper boiler laying in each of the three furnaces in this room.

This picture represents the work done at the Gobelins’ dye-house used as a model for this factory. It is possible to reconstitute the atmosphere that existed in this place, in the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.

The dyeing products used in the dye-house of the Royal Textile Factory were mainly of organic source. In this room showcases are shown sample of the various dyeing products.

The Indigo of American – Brazil and Spanish colonies – African and Asian origins, resulted from the fermentation undergone by a plant and after being ground, was used in hot baths giving origin to several shades of blue.

The Brazil wood was obtained directly from the stem pulverisation of this Brazilian tree, extracting from it several shades from brown and violet to orange-coloured, red and scarlet.
The uniforms of the Kingdom troops and Portuguese Colonies were dyed in the Royal Textile Factory. Thus, large amounts of indigo were spent to provide the characteristic blue, as well as cochineal, madder, Brazil wood from which red was obtained from.

In the Vats Dye-house, there are seven cylindrical wells and three furnaces. In the first plan, we observe the reconstitution of a vat made from the metal rings found during the excavations.

The dyeing process used in this room was the one of fermentation (water + dyes + mordant), through indirect heat. The temperature of this operation turned around the 40º and 45º degrees. In this room the water draining conduits are visible.

Partial view of the Furnaces and the feeding openings whose entrance was in the corridor, of a reconstructed furnace with its own copper boiler and the structures where the vats laid.

Reproduction of a copper boiler which capacity turns around the 4500 l and the 5000 l of water.

Cloths from 40 to 50 m were dyed in these boilers. The technique used is shown on the picture on the wall of this room. The picture explains the operating of the Gobelins’ Parisian dye-house, which was surely at the origin of the structure and the techniques used in the Royal Textile Factory.

General aspect of the Vats dye-house room. . On the right side of the picture are the partially destructed furnaces. It was in this place that worked, in the Quarter times, the kitchen of that institution. The general structure of the Royal Textile Factory was meticulously studied and, currently, it is possible to breath the environment lived in all this space. Besides the furnaces and vats, the objects found in this area, at the time when the archaeological excavations were made, are exhibited in the showcases. They are completed with the exhibited pictures referring to the approached themes: pictures of the military uniforms and the dyeing plants.