Wednesday, August 25, 2010

mad about woad

Bleu de Lectoure's famous pastel blue shutters -- image source

I've never really embraced the color blue...not for clothes, furnishings, and especially not exterior house paints. But that all changed recently when I stumbled across the story of Denise and Henri Lambert who purchased an abandoned tannery, Bleu de Lectoure, in southwest France in 1994. The couple triumphantly revived the tannery's centuries-old natural dye-extraction process using woad plants (isatis tinctoria) growing in abundance on the property. Woad dye production was halted in the mid 19th century when Indigo and synthetic blue dyes became commonplace.

To get the fullest picture of why I've fallen so hard for woad, I invite you to watch this beautiful video -- you won't be sorry!

Parting thoughts: I'm not sure what I love more: the exquisite color of woad blue or the fact that the Lambert's were able to resurrect an artisan craft previously heralded during the 14th and 15th centuries. What I do know is that I will buy a few of their products, including some pure woad pigment to dye some of my ivory hemp/organic cotton fabric as well as a tube of handmade oil paint for a series of new paintings.

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