Category Archives: Blog

Woad extraction experiments

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.


Meadowsweet growing in the damp earth of an old route of the Thames by our garden
Meadowsweet heading homewards
Fleece in the meadowsweet dye vat
The golden fleece…


Proud mum Flora with Freddie and Felicity born on the 11th of April. They’re doing well amongst the blossom and sunshine.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

This picture was taken on New Year’s Eve from the bottom of the garden, where I was pollarding willows. The very wet Autumn has filled the aquifers and this ancient braid of the Thames has come to greet us and the New Year.

Ivy berry harvest

Ivy berries

Ivy (Hedera helix) berries are ready at this time of year and produce a range of slightly odd variable colours but I like to gather a few to play with to see how they come out. They contain saponins which are poisonous if eaten and can be irritating if handled a lot. However they are an intriguing addition to the dye pot and still deserve some research.