Sunday, May 5, 2013

Woad is Me!

It's time to harvest the woad in my garden before it flowers and goes to seed. You can see here that the plant is a brassica related to broccoli. 

After steeping the leaves in hot water to make a kind of tea I added washing soda to increase the alkalinity and then beat the tea to oxygenate it. The liquid was dark green but the foam on top contained indigotin particles and was blue.

I have been having a hard time deciphering the many instructions in books and websites for woad dyeing. I still don't understand the chemistry. I was supposed to let the woad precipitate and get rid of the watery part until I was left with a powder. Then I was supposed to collect a gallon of urine and let it ferment for six weeks. And then add it to the woad along with some other chemicals...Arghhh. I am not a patient person so I just started dipping cotton into the solution. It came out green but I read that rinsing in vinegar would turn it blue. It did!

I know I have done this "wrong" and can hear the natural dye gods tut tutting me from heaven but I feel just about as pleased as punch with the results. It's really blue!

I still want to try the urine thing though.