Woad has been one of the success stories in our summer garden. Until two years ago I had no success at all growing a seedling. This summer, it has really grown and thrived. So I have decided I can try a few things out. I started with India Flint’s ice flower method. She describes using it with with Japanese Indigo on silk here. It seemed logical to me that if it worked with Japanese Indigo, it should work with woad. But logic requires consideration of all the facts, and I know for sure I don’t understand all the chemistry and plant magic involved. So who knew what might happen? The last time I tried this, with some Japanese Indigo leaves, nothing obvious happened and I decided I just didn’t have enough leaf matter (and the leaves were tired and sad in any case).
This time I was rich in leaves, though woad is a low-indigo plant. I followed the instructions. After a night in the freezer, here are my woad leaves in filtered rainwater, with a little pre-loved raw silk and some silk embroidery thread.
A while later, there were exciting signs of success. A couple of hours later, the colour was deeper still and the embroidery thread was looking good too. Definitely deep turquoise–tending to green rather than blue, but that would be a happy outcome. I added more thread! That looked good too, so I added some more fabric and went to bed. The next morning the woad leaves were very green, but the silk was not!
I haven’t had a lot of luck catching the colours exactly, but…. grey is close enough! The thread is a sheeny steely grey that I have obtained from Austral Indigo in the past by a similar method. I really enjoyed stitching with it and now I have a new supply. The smaller fabric that went in first is a darker colour and slightly green-grey. the larger piece is a rosy-grey, perhaps.
I forgot to alkanise as India suggests, which would have been a good idea: that might be the issue. The silk is much worn and washed. Contaminants? The woad has had a hard summer? I have chosen a plant in its second year without much indigotin: that is entirely possible. This method doesn’t suit woad? I should have pulled the fabric and thread out sooner, when I liked the colour? Further oversights on my part? I just don’t know!