This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and a couple of months ago I set up a small organic woad vat to dye blue.
Woad is the European plant that contains the indigo pigment. It requires the same process as indigo, in order to dye blue. It needs two things to produce the chemical reaction: an alkali and a reduction agent. I used calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) and henna for the alkali and reduction agent, respectively. I also add in a squeeze of date syrup each time I use it.
The photo below shows the chemical reaction whilst heating. The liquid thickens and develops a metallic sheen. Just after this photo, a “flower” began to form on the surface, which was an exciting moment!
The first things I dyed were some test swatches and I also overdyed avocado skin to make beautiful shades of purple.
A simple organic cotton dip dyed scarf.
It’s wonderful to be able to make blues again! The olive green fabric swatch below shows aldercone overdyed with woad.
Dyeing with woad adds to my rainbow of plant colours I’ve dyed recently. Below there is woad, avocado skin and stone, aldercone, seaweed and carrot tops.