March 09, 2011

Woad Paint

I listened to the Maiwa podcast "European Blue: Woad and Bleu de Lectoure" with presenter Denise Lambert.  Hearing about someone's adventures with stinky dye vats is always fun, especially when there's no chance of getting a whiff myself.  Lambert gives historical context that captures the imagination.  She speaks with passion about woad's colour and complexity.  Lambert gives you a glimpse into her life running workshops for tourists, collaborating with couture houses, and transferring traditional techniques to the modern industrial scale.  And she is wonderfully funny.  In the question and answer period someone asks what she did before all this.  She says, "wife."  She tells stories about garments that went in the woad vats and how the dye reacted to silk and cotton, to perspiration stains, and to the shirt whose pieces came from different bolts of white cotton cloth.  She covers practical ground, too, such as the way they keep their woad plants from acting as an invasive species.

She and her late husband got into woad, Isatis tinctoria, and built their company after falling in love with some old shutters on a house they bought, shutters painted with real woad paint.  Bleu de Lectoure now sells woad paint suitable for painting wood, called Bio-Rox Bleu Charrette.

You know what this means.  I could have a blue drop spindle, a spindle decked out like Picti about to go whale on a Roman legion.

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