Woad extraction

After my last, less than successful, adventure with woad, I considered the situation. I discovered thanks to the commenters on this little blog (thank you!) that my chickens enjoy woad leaves just like theirs do.  Then I finally figured out that some of my woad is in year 1 and in spring in spite of everything I have done/not done/failed to understand.   I decided to try Teresinha Roberts’ method of extracting the pigment from woad.  I figure this way, I know if I have any pigment before I go all out with complex methods of deoxygenating my woad vat.

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So from left to right you have woad before haircut; woad after haircut, a (big) bucket full of woad, and…

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half that woad washed.

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After that it gets less pretty.  Woad that has been added into hot water, now ready for the compost bin.  Since adding it to the compost I find not the appalling ‘pinky-tan’ I have been promised by some but some very nice pinks online.  Never mind.  Life is long and I can try all the things if I live long enough.  Goodness knows it seems that is my project!

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Woad liquid after straining out leaves.

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Wow!  Can that stuff make froth!!  I had acquired a stab mixer at the op shop last week and employed it until I feared for its health. Teresinha was pretty clear that you should use soda ash and not washing soda because it causes less froth.  I only had washing soda and slaked lime in the alkaline substances for indigo line of supplies and was not prepared to go out and find soda ash having given my last lot away to indigo dyers a the guild.  Next time, I might be more diligent!

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I gave it all night to let the foam subside, but there was still (very deep blue) foam next morning). Surely this is promising?  But why is the blueness floating, rather than sinking to the bottom of the liquid as in Teresinha’s pictures?  Have my washing soda crimes ruined everything?  (I know, I need my own soap opera).

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The first cut. Fingers crossed! This looks like blue to me.  But… Teresinha Roberts has the blue pigment settling to the bottom.  To me it looks like mine is all floating on the top, still.

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I thought time would sort it out but actually, two days later as I am trying to continue the process I still have this: the concentrating jar on the left and a jar of ‘discard’ woad solution on the right.  I say ‘discard’ as I am not throwing anything away just yet.

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And then… wonder of wonders!  I began to form an impression on day 3 that I might have some blueness.

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And closer up…

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Is it promising?  Is it??

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Comments

Filed under Dye Plants, Natural dyeing

10 responses to “Woad extraction

  1. My fingers are crossed for you 🙂

    Like

  2. Rebecca

    Glory! The pain and preciousness that is blue. Thank you for sharing the travails.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What mad scientist fun – and the patience you have!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks very promising!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Forget soap opera, I think this is a cliff hanger. Will it or won’t it give blue!

    Liked by 1 person

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