I’d been chatting to another woadie in Frome, who had told me that rather than going through the very lengthy process of extracting the pigment, I could in fact use the fresh woad leaves to make a more delicate shade of dye. It gives subtle spearmint shades rather than the blue normally associated with indigo. I had seen a description of this process being applied to fresh indigo leaves, so decided to give it a go.
Even this process was fairly slow and time consuming:
heating water and steeping the leaves (careful not to let it get too hot), adding soda ash and sodium hydrosulphate, whisking for ages and ages as the froth turned blue and then back to green again, but finally the dye bath was ready to use. I dipped my prepared cloth and watched the magic process of pulling the cloth out of the bath a greeny/yellow colour and watching as the exposure to air turned it blue-ish.
Unfortunately there wasn’t really enough dye to make repeated dippings to get more intensity of colour, but I hung them all out to dry anyway.
Sadly by the time they had dried they were much paler and by the time they had been properly washed and rinsed they just look like whites that got into the wrong wash…
Oh well, it was fun to try, but probably not something I’m going to make into a regular activity.