EX­TRACT­ING WOAD DYE

NZ Gardener - Gifts from the Gardens - - Crafts -

Har­vest about 1.2 kg woad leaves and wash. Roughly tear into pieces. Fill a 10-litre stain­less steel saucepan two-thirds with wa­ter, heat to 90°C then turn off heat. Add leaves, place the lid on top and steep for 10 min­utes. Place the saucepan in a sink of icy wa­ter to cool rapidly. When 55°C, strain into a bucket. When you are sure the tem­per­a­ture has dropped to 50°C, add 3 tea­spoons soda ash. Stir to dis­solve. Mea­sure the PH – it should be about 9. If be­low 9 add more soda ash. Aer­ate the liq­uid with a whisk for 10 min­utes, when a froth will ap­pear. Let the dye sit for 2-3 hours, dur­ing which time the foam will evap­o­rate and any pig­ment will set­tle. Scoop or siphon off (with a pipette) all the wa­ter, leav­ing the pig­ment at the bot­tom. Fill with wa­ter again and re­peat 2 or 3 times. Soon you will have clear wa­ter at the top and thick pig­ment in the bot­tom. This is your woad dye.

No two batches of plant dyes will be iden­ti­cal in colour and strength.

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