Woad - Natural Dye

by - Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New to the store in June 2009

During the Renaissance, woad from the Occitan region of France was considered to be the best in Europe. Exports went to London, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bilbao, and San Sabastien. The wealth that this dye brought in forged the legend of “Pays de Cocagne” (land of milk and honey) an area known as the “Blue Triangle;” Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Albi in the Southwest of France.

To make the blue woad dye the green leaves were harvested and crushed into a pulp, left outside to ferment for six months, formed into balls by hand, and once dried, dispatched to dyers.

The colour is very similar to indigo (the woad plant contains indigotin) but it is considered by many to be more subtle and delicate – naturally suited to the sun of the more temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Woad was used extensively in Europe, especially on wool. It eventually lost ground to imported indigo from India and then to both synthetic indigo and other synthetic blue dyes.

Today woad is being revived as an ecological colourant. The renewed popularity of the dye is largely due to the efforts of Henri and Denise Lambert of Bleu de Lectoure. Based in Lectoure, France, the couple are woad-crazy: incorporating the pigment into everything from automotive paint to plastics to traditional art supplies.

Available for online purchase in the Natural Dyes section of the Maiwa Supply Store.

Denise and Henri Lambert will be at the 2009 Maiwa Textile Symposium and will give both a lecture and a workshop.

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