Sunday, 9 August 2009

Feeling Blue

More kitchen activity this weekend but of a slightly different nature. You may remember I bought these a few months ago after listening to an inspirational talk by Linda Rudkin.

They were planted in my veg bed and grew into these luxurious plants.

This weekend they were picked and chopped.

And immersed in boiling water to extract the dye.


Mean while I simmered some natural fabrics and threads in a mordant solution of alum... please note... mordants are used to fix the dye.

The woad leaves were strained producing an uninspiring looking brown liquid which then had to be whisked. This made a blue froth which was quite exciting... promise of colour to come perhaps? This liquid was then sprinkled with a reducing agent to remove the oxygen (this was starting to feel a bit technical)

The fabrics and threads were immersed in the dye and carefully removed where upon their colour gradually turned blue... magic!

Everything was then washed and hung out to dry... and as they dried the coloured turned from the lovely clear blue to the following pale grey! I'm certain I must have missed a step, or introduced oxygen to the dye vat... or something similarly silly... but how disappointing after all that effort!

The velvet was marginally better.

As were the threads too... but I don't think I'll be growing woad again in the near future. More like stormy weather than summer skies! (Linda's book is very good if you fancy trying natural dyes)


Feeling bereft of colour I spent today making this little book cover which did much to cheer my spirits.

I used this super skein of silk strips which I bought from Crafty Notions a few weeks ago.

And there were enough scraps left from the book jacket to make some cards...

and a couple of brooches

That's more like it!

31 comments:

  1. Hi, I was at a summer school last week with Janice Gunner, Indigo and Woad dying, the Indigo was much more successful than the woad, I think it needs to be dipped several times to get a decent colour, I only dyed one piece in Woad I preferred the effects of Indigo. Nice to see your back with us.

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  2. Oh I do think they are all very pretty Gina but the velvet had the best effect, b/c of the combination of colour and texture I think.

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  3. How disappointing after all that effort, but those delicate colours are rather lovely. I had a similar experience using blackberries and made the mistake of leaving the fabrics and threads in the dye pot hoping to intensify the colour - instead of which I ended up with pale wishy washy pinky greys and lost my lovely lilacs and mauves. Your book cover is gorgeous and the cards look like mini landscapes. Love the brooches too.

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  4. Actually the velvet and threads are in my very favorite shades of bluey-gray! I think they're wonderful. K x

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  5. I can see why you wouldn't do it again, that was a ton of work! But I love the soft blue of the threads. I really love all of the projects you did with the silk strips!

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  6. I'm afraid I'm a bit of an addict of that subtle pale watery wintry sky blue. It's beautiful. Those vibrant colours are wonderful too. You've made such gorgeous things with those strips.

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  7. The velvet and the threads are subtle and beautiful.

    Love what you've done with the silk strips too. I've some of the same strips but haven't used them yet.

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  8. Very cute brooches. Colourful!

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  9. How disappointing, but I do love the colours of the threads as they're so subtle, a lovely blue-grey.

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  10. Well, where to begin. Let me say that I would never, never have had the patience to run this test with Woad, although I am very intrigued to see what you have discovered.

    I've read about woad in many books, and was never quite sure what it was, and just what blues might be enticed from it. Again, I thank you.

    I also agree with some earlier commenters who liked the looks of the threads. They are quite beautiful shades of a pale grey/blue. Usually I prefer subtle colors over the strongly vibrant, so would say that all of your dying results would suit me.

    Thank you for posting all of this! I so look forward to visiting here again.

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  11. Gosh Gina -- you're so brave to even attempt that dying! Sorry it didn't work out. LOVE the pretty bright colors of your little notebook and cards though!

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  13. Isn't it hard work? I do think the thread are pretty though. I always feel a bit guilty that while feeling strongly about all the environmental issues, I find the whole natural dye thing a huge faff with very subtle results, and I adore the intentity of colour you get with the acid dyes and other probably noxious substances. Which is why I love your bookcover, brooches etc!

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  14. I have to agree with the others who loved the subtle English summer sky blue yarns.

    Celia

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  15. Why do I have a sneaking feeling that the mordant goes on AFTER the dying process to fix the dye? I thought you soaked the fabric in Soda & salt first, then dyed, then fixed with mordant but I must confess I am certainly no expert!!!DD2 brought me back a bag of indigo from Marrakesh last week, she was very disappointed when I looked nonplussed (indigo dyeing is something I am not into) and she told me it was VERY expensive!!! It looks like slabs of blue Kendal mint cake. I know which I'd rather have!

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  16. Ah, what a disappointment with the woad! However they are a lovely subtle colour. I do like the book cover, that is beautiful (and like you, I'm much more into the bright colours than the subtle ones!)

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  17. I can understand your disappointment but I think those greys are gorgeous!

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  18. i love the bookcover. I have seen woad as a really dark petrol blue. Maybe it was concentrated or something?

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  19. All that work! Never mind, at least you tried it. I've been told Hibiscus tea bags produce a pink dye so I'm going to try that. Don't hold your breath though!

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  20. that looked like fun! still looked lovely to me, if not quite what you were expecting.
    love the cards and brooches, just beautiful.

    xx

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  21. It all looked like so much fun - so it's a shame it didn't turn out the brilliant blue you wanted. Still, it's all rather clever isn't it?!

    Lucy x

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  22. hmmm well I can see why you're disappointed .. but that shade of blue on the yarns is lovely. I'm sure when I watched a wool dying demonstration last year, they put the alum in with everything else - dyestuff (it was all natural), wool, and alum, all in the same pot .. but I wasn't paying that much attention ... x

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  23. Well now, if you ever want to off-load those threads, I'd be very interested. Seriously.

    I also love what you did with those fabric scraps, I'm sure I'd have spent ages coming up with something to do with them.

    How nice to see Frances here, I've been following her blog for some time but have not yet commented there, I should rectify that.

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  24. The blue is truly gentle and gorgeous, even though the results were unexpected.

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  25. This totally made me think of this song

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK5-F9mLp4Y

    What a shame they didn't turn out quite how you hoped after all that work. Ah well, you live and learn.

    xMx

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  26. Thanks for visiting my blog Gina - your comment about the butternut squash doesn't surprise me and I'm ready to be disappointed. The courgettes have been doing the same. Perhaps if we get some warm dry days they'll have a better chance of maturing.

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  27. I really like the velvet... it's very delicate and sophisticated..

    And I LOVE the broaches...

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  28. Deffo you need multiple dips to get a deeper colour - dip, leave for a few minutes to oxidise, then dip again and repeat the process. I think woad blues tend to be lighter than indigo.

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  29. I went to a dyign workshop last month with The EG and the resuk
    ts are in the lap of the Gods! The pale blue loos lie it woukld make good background fabric. Like the look of the velvet.
    x

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  30. Sorry, forgot to say the brooches really look wonderful. How long did they take to make?

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  31. I love those faded colours, but I can understand your disappointment. We are hoping to grow woad.

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