Thursday 28 February 2013

Indigo leaf prints

Welcome to the world of woad, or pastel as it is known when grown in the traditional south western parts of France. A very humble plant that grows less enthusiastically in my Sydney back yard than it did on the farm near Toulouse, but is giving me enough to fiddle with. This colour was achieved by a very simple process which started out in my garden pot looking like this:

Here's a technique I'd been meaning to try for years, described in Michel Garcia's book "Couleurs Vegetales". It uses just the fresh leaf of one of the indigo giving plants, and a mallet. Gotta love that. No chemicals, no mordants. Just some soap to transform in magic.

Place some thick cardboard down on a firm wooden surface. Then place fabric on top, and fresh indigo leaves on the fabric. ( First i tried silk, but a stronger fabric like hemp gave much better results.) Then cover again with fabric and tap lightly until the green chlorophyll shows through the fabric.

Leave the fabric in the sun for about half an hour, where it may begin to change to blue already. After that, rince with hand soap and watch the green transform into the blue/turquoise of indigo.

I love this technique and will use it in the near future as it is quick, requires no chemicals or even heat to achieve. It also works well on cellulose fabrics which are usually more difficult to accept natural dyes. Fabulous. And it connects my immediate backyard of chickens and dog, veggies and flowers, to my fabrics which I can then create with. A happy day.