On Sunday I havested the woad seeds which have been growing on the allotment for about 13 months now. They are big heavy plants! Hopefully combined with some alum mordant I might get some pinkish or pale greenish hues. If not I have alot of fresh seeds for next year. I start my seeds off in 3" pots of compost (2 per pot then thin the weaker seedling or carefully transplant, watch the big roots which do n't like being disturbed) in a cold greehouse about mid April time. They are easy seeds to germinate so as long as it does n't go into the low minus tempratures. When danger of frost has gone (end of may-ish) I plant them in a fertile patch about 2 foot apart as they can reach over 5 foot in height. The better your soil the more blue pigment you will receive. Woad plants are very greedy feeders and are biennial so look after your soil as if in my case they are on an allotment not much will grow well afterwards if you have n't mulched / composted / mucked you ground at the end of the year. In the first year harvest leaves before the first frosts come (September) to get decent blue colours as people say the dye pigment gets ruined by the cold. I have no experience of that but am not going to risk finding out! Either use fresh or dried. There are many good receipes out there to follow for experimenting with. I use the book Wild color by Jenny Dean. In the second year huge flower spikes with yellow brassica flowers form in May and then seeds in June. These might need staking as they are prone to blowing over and other than a water in dry spells it is easy to grow. The only problem I have encountered is munching insect friends so watch if you want perfect leaves and pick off slugs. Cut down seed spikes as it can be an invasive bully of a plant if left to self seed and will quickly fill your plot!
When you see something really good it can be really inspiring and really deflating at the same time. Check out Ian Berrys' denim art for really beautiful blues. I am not going to give up. My stitching will be finished - IS finished! Oh! and Ivor even though the garden needs weeding I am focused! stop tempting me into Eden!
'If you force your creativity you only get 2nd class rubbish, so I am obliged to find something to do till my head is ready to squeeze out a bit more'
Thanks Ivor now I do n't feel bad about lurking around my allotment and being in the garden till the small hours! Stuff the neighbours! I am waiting for the muse to strike! That stash of denim hoicked out of a box is looking better than I imagined. I have been working from a black and white photograph. The image is a microcosm in its own right. I love denim fabrics and they look better when they get old and break down and age. There is a sense of comfort in the cycles of its manufacture, use, wear, break, stitch, use, fade, re-dye, re-use, repeat. It makes me feel safe and part of something. A very wise something. I think we all need to appreciate cloth more - especially utility cloth.