Just before the skies darkened with rain I went out to gather purple loosestrife. It is a beautiful riverside plant that contains salicylic acid as reflected in its Latin name ‘Lythrum salicaria’ and in the name ‘loosestrife’. It also dyes warm orangey browns with alum and iron.
The whole Coreopsis plant dyes beautiful deep oranges on wools and silk.
Woad plants in the garden ready for harvesting. One kilo fits nicely in a bucket. This then has water at 80 degrees centigrade added. The leaves are steeped and the liquor cooled as quickly as possible. The liquor then has an alkali added and is aerated. After this the liqor is put into demi John’s to allow the indigo Pigment to settle. The liquid on top is siphoned off and the indigo rich sludge put into measuring cylinders. After settling again, the top liquid is siphoned off again and the sludge is decanted into trays to allow the last moisture to evaporate off leaving dry indigo Pigment with varying impurities depending on the alkalis and acids added.
Proud mum Flora with Freddie and Felicity born on the 11th of April. They’re doing well amongst the blossom and sunshine.
Heather is not the strongest of dye stuffs but is was very traditional in Scotland for tweeds and tartans, giving warm golden yellows.