Monday, October 10, 2011

A Tale of Woad

Told mostly in pictures.


Satin silk ribbon dyed with woad


Cotton voile dyed with woad


Sheep locks dyed with woad (on left, Cotswold, and on right, Merino, I think)


The tale: Planning on an upcoming weaving project, I'm in search of turquoise -- achieved with natural dyes. This isn't easy, but a friend of mine who knows a lot about natural dyeing suggested that I start with woad and then overdye it with just a hint of yellow. From the photos I saw, woad produces a slightly more turquoise color than indigo to begin with, so I thought I'd try it out. 

First challenge: Woad is hard to come by in the United States, for some reason. Searching the web, I found a place in England, All About Woad, the work of textile artist Teresinha Roberts. I emailed my order and received it in a week or so! I followed her recipe as well. Great site. Here's the link:


Woad has the same ingredients as indigo and has been used far longer in human history, 4000 years or more. The difference is that woad doesn't achieve quite the deep blue colors that indigo does, so indigo has become the dye of choice. You basically use the same recipe, using no mordant and creating a vat that needs to have a pH of 9 or so, dipping the fiber in and then taking it out to let oxygen do its work.

More to come, as I plan to do some overdyeing with goldenrod. Then, the quest to achieve a burgundy color with natural dyes, then gold, then olive....

2 comments:

Terri said...

Hi Denise: I've been looking around your blog from fiber artists bloggers. I just joined, but my name isn't up yet. I love fibers and wool roving. Not much of a spinner or a weaver, but I just got a needle felting machine and I love it. I do love these colors though. have you found your turquoise or have you dyed that yet? Blessings Terri www.morningdewdrops.typepad.com

Denise Bolger Kovnat said...

Terri, sorry I didn't reply sooner -- I didn't see the comment, because my blog doesn't show them.... I haven't tried to create turquoise just yet, because I'm working on making a warp for another project. Do you know anything about how to achieve this?
I was thinking about starting with Saxon Blue -- but to get that color, you have to use some kind of acid that is pretty toxic.
If I don't start with Saxon Blue, I was thinking of dyeing with goldenrod and then doing just one dip in woad. So I will report on that, although it may take a while ;)
Best,
Denise