This shade can be obtained only on very white straws. Steep in a bath of soda crystals to which a little lime water has been added, to causticise the alkali. The purpose of this washing is to remove all traces of sulphur from the straw. For 25 hats, take: Alum, 4 lb. 6 oz.; tartaric acid, 3 1/2 oz. Add ammoniacal cochineal and indigo extract, according to the shade desired. By making the one or the other of these wares predominate, is obtained a reflection more bluish or reddish. A little sulphuric acid is added to the beck, to neutralise the alkalinity of the ammoniacal cochineal. The hats are boiled in the dye for about an hour, and rinsed in water slightly acidified.
Maroon (25 hats): Ground sanders, 1 lb. 10 oz.; turmeric, ground, 2 lb. 3 oz.; bruised galls, 7 oz.; rasped logwood, 24 1/4 oz. Boil in a kettle so roomy that the hats may not be bruised. Rinse. Steep overnight in black liquor at 3° B., and rinse in several waters. To produce a deeper black, return to the first beck, which is strengthened by an addition of sanders and logwood. Polish as for black.
This shade, being a degradation of maroon, may be obtained by the same process, reducing the proportions by 1/2 or 1/3, and omitting steeping in black liquor. The hats may be soaked for a night before dyeing in 4}-6 1/2 lb. of alum. (Mon. de Teint.)
In order to obtain a level black colour, a solution of gluten is added to a lye of soda, which is allowed to stand for 24 hours, and filtered. The hats are then steeped for 12 hours in the clear liquid. The straw is thus freed from grease, and the mordants of nitrate, sulphate, or acetate of iron, as well as the decoction of logwood mixed with sumac or galls, is very evenly taken up by the fibre. A slight addition of potash bichromate improves the tone of the dye, and the goods are finished with gum or gelatine. (Baden Gewerbezeit.)
These are made from the plant Carludovica palmata, whose leaves are 6-14 ft. high, and 4 ft. wide. In the Isthmus of Panama the plant is called portorico and jipijapa, but the last name is the most common, and is diffused all along the coast as far as Peru and Chili; while in Ecuador a whole district derives its name from it.
The jipijapa is common in Panama and Darien, especially in half shady places; but its geographical range is by no means confined to them. It is found all along the western shores of New Grenada and Ecuador; and it has been found even at Salango, where, however, it seems to reach its most southern limit, thus extending over 12 degrees of latitude from the tenth N. to the second S. The Jipijapa, or Panama hats, are principally manufactured in Veraguas and Western Panama; not all, however, known in commerce by that name are plaited in the Isthmus; by far the greater proportion is made at Manta, Monte Christi, and other parts of Ecuador. The hats are worn almost in the whole American continent and the West Indies, and would probably be equally used in Europe, did not their high price, varying from 8*. to 30/., prevent their importation. They are distinguished from all others by consisting only of a single piece, and by their lightness and flexibility. They may be rolled up and put into the pocket without injury.
In the rainy season they are apt to get black, but by washing them with soap and water, besmearing them with lime juice or any other acid, and exposing them to the sun, their whiteness is easily restored.
The process of making these hats is as follows: The "straw," previous to plaiting, has to go through several processes. The leaves are gathered before they unfold, all their ribs and coarser veins are removed, and the rest, without being separated from the base of the leaf, is reduced to shreds. After having been put in the sun for a day, and tied into a knot, the straw is immersed in boiling water until it becomes white. It is then hung up in a shady place, and subsequently bleached for 2-3 days. The straw is now ready for use, and in this state is sent to different places, especially to Peru, where the Indians manufacture from it beautiful cigar cases, which have been sometimes sold in Europe for 6/. apiece. The plaiting of the hats is very troublesome. It commences at the crown, and finishes at the brim. They are made on a block, which is placed upon the knees, and requires to be constantly pressed with the breast. According to their quality, more or less time is occupied in their completion; the coarser ones may be finished in 2 or 3 days, the finest take as many months.
The best times for plaiting are the morning hours and the rainy season, when the air is moist; in the middle of the day and in dry, clear weather, the straw is apt to break, which, when the hat is finished, is betrayed by knots, and much diminishes the value.