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Is there any more beautiful–and otherworldly–colour than blue? No other colour in my experience appears and disappears with such unpredictability! Blue surrounds us in our daily lives and it is as vast as the sky and the ocean itself. But, just try to take hold of it and all you’ll be left with is a handful of air or water.

Natural blue pigments are equally ephemeral and seem transient between this world and the other: Grind a bit of azurite a little to long and the colour will disappear, or don’t offer your prayer fervently enough when mixing a kettle of woad and all you’ll create is green sludge. And then there are black minerals, like vivianite, which disclose their blueness only once their rocky physicality is removed and a shapeless powder is all that remains.

It always takes a little bit of magic and luck to create blue pigments.

Blue Entries

Getting Ready to Grow Woad Blue

April 18th, 2017

Last weekend, with the help of the whole family, we got to work setting up for growing a new batch of woad here in Conestoga. Using old tires from the garage beside my studio, we set up fifty planters for what I hope will create an ideal place for last year’s… Read more

woad blue

Woad Blue Harvest

September 29th, 2014

The annual harvest of our woad patch is something I look forward to every year. While it seems that the weather rarely cooperates (at least it wasn’t snowing, like last year …) I find it magical every time that profoundly deep blue appears. Read more

Woad Pigment: Decantoring

August 19th, 2007

I usually don’t allow myself to become obsessed about iconography issues on Sunday, but today was a very relaxed day and the work was very minim, so I did a little bit with the woad. I also was looking for an end to my suspense! And, as I carefully got… Read more

Woad Pigment: Harvesting

August 18th, 2007

One of the very few dyes that can be used reliable as a pigment comes from the woad plant (Isatis tinctoria). It is also sometimes called wild mustard. This spring my wife planted a small crop for me in her garden and with the weather turning cooler I thought it… Read more