22/07/2024

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Woad – The Mysterious Blue Plant Dye

Woad – The Mysterious Blue Plant Dye

Woad is well-known as the resource of the blue dye that has been made use of to dye wool and other fibres for many thousand years in Europe and the Center East. The pigment is extracted from the darkish blue-inexperienced, spinach-like woad leaves.

The Woad Plant

Woad (Isatis tinctoria) is a indigenous of the Mediterranean and belongs to the loved ones Cruciferae, far more normally recognized as the brassicas, and is closely connected to broccoli, cabbage and rape seed. Woad grows commonly and is regarded a noxious weed in some states of the Usa.

Woad is a biennial plant and grows for two many years ahead of dying down. In the 1st yr, it sorts a lower-expanding cluster of leaves like spinach. The leaves are harvested for dye manufacturing in the first yr only, mainly because they have minor or no colour when they achieve the second yr. 

In the second year, the leaves turn into longer and thinner and the woad plant seems really distinct. It creates tall stems up to 5 or six toes in top with sprays of tiny, neon yellow flowers. The flowers, which appear in Might, have a excellent fragrance and entice a great deal of bees. The black seeds that follow are winged, resembling modest tongues and following developing seeds, the plant dies down.

Woad Blues

Dyeing with woad is quite interesting. Wool or cloth is dipped into the vat, still left for a handful of minutes, and then eliminated. At initial the wool is pale yellow, but with publicity to air, the colour gradually turns to green and then to blue. This change in colour never ever ceases to fascinate viewers.

Woad is also quite affordable 10 grams of woad pigment, for example, dyes a lot more than 200 grams of wool a wonderful medium blue, and at minimum an additional 100 grams of wool a light blue. 

Traditionally a fermentation vat was used to dye with woad, frequently commenced with stale urine. The fermentation gets rid of the oxygen from the vat earning the woad pigment soluble. At present, chemical compounds these types of as spectralite are generally used to remove the oxygen from the vat.

Woad and the historic Brits

Woad is indigenous to the Mediterranean, originating in Turkey and the Middle East, from in which it distribute into Europe and has been in use as a dye plant considering the fact that the Neolithic, 5 to 10,000 many years in the past. 

Quite a few folks have heard that when Julius Caesar’s army invaded Britain in 55 BC, the Romans noticed Picts painted blue with woad. There is a terrific offer of controversy regarding this statement, as it is not likely that the Roman military, which was primarily in the south, at any time came throughout any Picts, who lived in the north of Scotland. Even further, woad is hard to use as entire body paint and not acceptable for tattoos.

Woad as an anti-cancer agent

It is not only a blue dye that can be extracted from woad the woad plant has also become a weapon in the fight against breast cancer. Latest study has uncovered that this plant has 20 occasions a lot more of the anti-most cancers chemical glucobrassicin than broccoli. It is challenging to extract the chemical from broccoli, so woad provides an productive different. Woad can develop even additional of this chemical if the youthful leaves are ruined. Do not check out to consume woad nevertheless as this plant is not edible.

Wearing woad

Have your read the Woad Track? The very last stanza goes like this

March on Snowdon with your woad on,

Hardly ever brain if you get rained or snowed on

Under no circumstances want a button sewed on.

Go it Historic Britons! 

Now there is adequate information accessible on the net to let you to develop your have woad, extract the blue pigment, dye some local wool and knit a blue scarf to wear when you are following climbing Snowdon (or your neighborhood mountain peak)!