Woad

Over the weekend, I made my first woad vat. It's a fairly complex process, so I followed the method here for the woad extract powder I ordered. I used chemicals to create the vat, rather than using the more traditional (and natural) fermentation technique due to time constraints. I found the process quite fiddly as you had to keep the vat at a certain temperature, and I wasn't sure it had worked as there wasn't much of a 'bloom' at the top of the vat.

The photos below aren't great as it was dark, but you can see the colour change as the woad is oxidised! It's pretty magical - next time I use woad I would like to make a video of the process (working in the daylight).

 Burns, R. (2017)  Woad 4.  (Own Collection)

Burns, R. (2017) Woad 4. (Own Collection)

From the finished results on a variety of fibres, the colour looks patchy in places, almost to a denim effect. I must have done something wrong in the process. Wearing Woad suggests that it may be due to the yarn not being fully submersed, or detergent residue on the yarn. (2016, online).

I've booked onto an indigo evening workshop in a couple of weeks - in the hope I can learn where I went wrong with my woad vat. I have left the vat rather than disposing of it, to see if it can be used again, or exhausted.

My methodology is practice-led, but I have also stated in my aims and objectives that I would like to understand the historical contexts of the dye materials I am using in order to inform my practice. Dressed in Blue: The Impact of Woad on English Clothing, c. 1350- c. 1670 is a journal article by Prof Hayward, giving a really interesting history of woad and how it fell in and out of fashion in different levels of society.

 

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