This past weekend I tried out a Woad workshop through French General. I was turned onto this amazing dye workshop by my ever inspiring friend and floral designer, My Linh.
The day started with donuts and coffee at French General where we shopped around and chatted. French General is a crafter's dream. Located between Silverlake and Atwater Village, it is only open Mondays 11am-4pm and workshop days, but you can peruse and shop online anytime. The store offers unique design inspirations such as beads, fabrics, pins, and other small crafts mostly coming from France. The owner, Kaari Meng also has a blog: The Warp and The Weft, where she shares her latest inspirations. Below are images from inside her store.
Thirty minutes later we made our way to Elysian Park where we were greeted by the woad expert and enthusiast, Denise Lambert (pictured below). Denise travels yearly from France just to teach and share her love of woad with eager Angelenos. You can also visit her studio in France: Bleu de Lectoure where she and her husband grow and cultivate the plants which they eventually extract the pigment from to make woad dye. At Bleu de Lectoure you can buy the dye, take workshops, or buy clothing dyed woad blue. There is also an Academy of Arts and Sciences of Woad in Toulouse, France where the woad trade was very prosperous in the early to mid 15th Century. It was used to dye the uniforms of Napoleon Bonaparte and garments of royalty throughout Europe until Indigo and other synthetic dyes took over. Woad is 100% natural and produces some breathtaking and unique varieties of pastel and occasionally darker blues.
The effects of the blues vary based on fabrics but also on how many times you dip your article into the dye. Whatever you are dying must be fully submerged in order to hold the dye. When first pulled out it is almost a pastel green/turquoise, but as the fabric oxidizes it turns the desired bluish color. Then you can dip again to achieve darker blues. The more natural the fabric the better the dye holds, and should not fade over time. The chemical process of achieving woad dye is a bit complicated and fickle, but the results are stunning!