In Search of Blue: Dyeing with Woad, Beans and Lentils

Silks and Muslins Dyed with Blue Beluga Lentils

And I haven’t found it. Blue. Yet.

And in the first picture, when I believed I was dyeing with black beansI discovered I’d used black lentils. Pah! Black beluga lentils, which are – blue.  I do like the bronzey silks, however. The top one is satin silk.

Black beluga lentils are delicious.  I didn’t eat the ones I’d dyed with. And don’t you do that!

The second picture is of fabrics dyed with black beans. Still no blue. On top of the pile is some thread I’ve dyed, too. I make a practice of this, so as always to have matching thread to use.

Silks and Muslins Dyed with Black Beans

The third picture is of fabrics dyed with woad. I didn’t have time to do this per the instructions, but wanted to know what would happen if I just mixed woad with water. As you can see, some of the results are quite spectacular.

But still not blue.

The very vivid purple fabric is in fact fabric from a stash of fabric conditioner sheets. I’d put these to one side for what is now a long-forgotten project.

No doubt the colour is due to the conditioning chemicals embedded in the sheet, so it is upcycled and not truly eco. The paler purple is the bottom of a leg from a pair of white jeans. (I’m not tall and regularly have to reduce leg lengths).

They’re stretch jeans. I suggest that whatever was used to elastic the fabric has worked as a resist to the dye, while the white cotton has absorbed it. Some sort of synthetic rubber? I’ve just bought a couple of masking pens. Masking liquid is used as a resist by watercolourists. It must be some kind of synthetic rubber. The masking liquid has been put into these pens to make it possible to draw it onto watercolour paper where liquid would normally be brushed or splashed on. I wondered if I could use it to mask negative space into my printing? I wonder if it will work on fabric? Look out for the results of some experiments with these masking pens.

The woad and water technique dyed the chestnut colour into silk and I love that colour. (Now I know how to get it). The thread has accepted little of the woad dye.

I steamed the fabrics in ordinary tap water for about a hour in my pressure cooker dedicated to dyeing. I washed them afterwards with olive oil soap. I did these experiments in January and so far they haven’t faded.

Spring is on its way here, after a week snowed-into the house. I’m surrounded by snowdrops, crocuses and budding daffodils.





About AnnIsikArts

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