Ode to Woad

Another update from our very busy Skills for the Future trainee, Scott.

Last week I took part in a short course and activity at the Woad Centre less than a mile from our base at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. Virtually the only natural blue dye throughout history has been indigo and its source in Europe was woad. The Woad Centre in Norfolk is Britain’s only commercial enterprise producing the natural dye.

After a short talk about the industrial and cultural history of Woad/Indigo we were able to produce a simple pattern transferred onto our cloth. Using a range of props we folded, tied, wrapped and pressed our designs into place and then took them through to the dying room. Ten minutes was all that was needed to allow the natural dye to take. On removal of our items the dye appeared green, but immediately turned blue before our eyes as it oxidised. The fabrics were then rinsed thoroughly in cold water for a minute and hung out to dry.
Simple, educational and fun!
   Scott Tampin,
   Skills for the Future Trainee,
   Heritage Gardening Apprentice.
woad hankies
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