Muddling on getting pigment from indigo leafs

During the night all the calciumOH-sediment has sunk to the bottom. I poured the liquid into my second container. This should have some pigment in theory and my quest today is trying to extract it.

On Ravelry I got some good pointers about extracting pigment from indigo or woad leafs:

  • the leafs need temperature to release their pigments. 50-60 degrees for indigo leaves, way higher for woad. Merely pouring boiling water on them and leaving them for half an hour is one way. Shredding the leaves and keeping them in warm water overnight is another. The later is more precise and will give more pigment.
  • a dustbin liner filled with woad leafs will give just 3 tea biscuits worth of indigo pigment. My 50 grams of fresh indigo leaves will have crumbs, at best.
  • adding oxygen is so important. I poured the fluid to and fro for about 20 minutes. Using a kitchen aid whisk will work better. Using a drill with a whisk in a big tub is also a good idea.
  • indigo liquid will be way more yellow than woad liquid.
  • getting the pH up is really important. It needs to go up to 9?! test strips to test would be handy.

I added some more water to my calcium-drab and then left it to stand, trying to get more of the colourbits to float in the water as the sediment sunk to the bottom again. About an hour later I poured the liquid with the other liquid, leaving the drab behind.

It does have that tell iridescent tale skin on top:
But I have no clue what that means and what I can do with it.

I’m saving it, this calcium-sediment. Perhaps this is something I can use again to make a next thing less acid:
Having poured the second bit of liquid with the first one I’m now ready to add in oxygen. The oxygen will bind the indigo pigments and they will clump together. I think I’m looking for specs of dark blue dust, like a gold miner.

After trying to add oxygen for half an hour the liquid is still yellow and there are no grains of indigo in sight. This magic is not working today.

I made a cup of tea and read this tutorial by Teresinha Roberts from Very interesting. There’s more to this indigo than just following a recipe…

Apparantly for the pigments to settle the liquid needs to be left undisturbed for three days. This is a problem, we are leaving for the city today. Won’t be back here for 5 days.

My choices are to leave it here for longer (shouldn’t do much harm I guess) or try and dye with it right away. There’s a tutorial on that too, over at Am reading it now.

No. This all is more than I bargained for. I simply don’t have the energy/stamina 😦

I’ll be leaving the jar and see if anything has settled when I return here next weekend. I don’t expect so because there’s no hint of green or blue in this liquid. It may well be that the growing of this particular plant is the reason this does not work. Too cold, too dark, too foresty, too late in the year. It’s the last days of October and they are in bloom… which is weird. Also I may not have treated the leafs the right way, not hot enough. Or not long enough.

Weird thing: when I was pouring the liquid to and fro in the very beginning, when the leaves had only met the hot water and were only just removed from the liquid, I did end up with little bits of dark blue sand at the bottom of the vessel. I thought it was merely plant debris that has escaped the sieve. But the amount grew over time, as I kept pouring and as the liquid grew more darker. One of these grains I crushed and it seemed to be a bit of dark blue powder. But as this was in the wrong stage of the process to yield indigo -the acid level had not been adjusted yet- I reasoned this could not be indigo. Looking back it might have been?

Hey. The Dogwood dyer blends fresh leaves with icecubes and dyes straight from that. Interesting.

The pot has been covered and will remain in the cabin for a few days now. The few hours remaining until we travel I’m doing something else… I’m following the recipe on p 241 of the book Eco-Verf by Anja Schrik.

Eco-printing leaves on unglazed ceramics. Results in two weeks.

Oh, and here’s a picture of the Wrenna in the big yarn. In reality the k2tog or even k3tog are very bulky and the YO make very big holes. Not very pretty.
I’m glad to frog this and use the yarn in stockinette stitch and reverse stockinette stitch (= back panel Concrete)


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