|The project was very lucky to have the help and advice of
Jill Godwin who prepared this sample of wools. it was Jill and her
daughters who gave me the seeds and plants to grow most of the dyes used
for teh Fulford Tapestry..
||Various experiments were necessary to obtain the traditional
Lincoln Green which has a mix of weld and woad. It was discovered that it
worked best to dye a thread mordanted with alum, before dipping into a
strong woad bath.
Repeated dipping could intensify the colour but it takes some trial and
error as woad does not develop until it has been removed and exposed to
The wool used here was mostly a loose spin that was better suited for
weaving - it turned out to be unsuitable for our work and was used to
|Black is not an easy hue to achieve using natural dyes. The
threads on the right were dyed with oak galls on wool that was treated
with an iron mordant. However, this had a side effect of making the
wool rather 'brittle'.
Many experiments were done to overcome this problem and one of the most
successful was to take a dark woad thread and then overdye it with oak
galls to which some iron salt was added for the last 10 minutes.
It was also found beneficial to rinse out the iron salt as quickly as
possible. The final treatment involved adding a minute quantity of fabric
softener. In fact it became standard practice to put all wools through a
wool-wash cycle in the washing machine before they were dried.
||Madder is a wonderful due, but must not be allowed to go
about 60 degrees C to avoid the colour tending towards brown. As the dye
bath is exhausted the colour looses its intensity. This was taken as a
virtue as it extended the pallet available to the embroiderers.
|You can see the plastic ties that were employed to keep
several hanks together. With one of these at either end, the wool can be immersed
'unwound' which allowed the dye to penetrate. If the shanks were not opened
up in this way there was a tendency for the tread to be dyed
The ties could be quickly withdrawn so that they can be reused.
||You can compare the intense blue of indigo with the grey-blue