(Note from Daven: I saw this recipe, and I just couldn’t resist. Might be fun to do on one Samhain. Really scare the socks off the Fundies. LOL)
Paint Your Face Blue!
by: Kaylinn Iceni
Did you watch Braveheart and wish that you too could paint your face blue and charge around screaming, shouting and scaring English people? Well, now you can (although I wouldn’t recommend the latter unless you enjoy getting arrested, there are groups about who will let you do it officially while participating in mock-battles).
The chemical the ancients used to dye both skin and clothes, is called indigo and it is still used today in large quantities to dye jeans. It can be found in quite large amounts in the plant Indigo, but more famously can also be extracted from Isatis tinctoria-also known as Woad.
Woad grows easily in moderately warm climates such as northern Europe, and where it does grow it does so voraciously- So much so in fact that in some states of the USA it is illegal to grow it at all. This problem can be solved however, by cutting back all but a few plants every two years (it grows biennially) before it has a chance to seed. In places where the plant is illegal to grow you should still be allowed to purchase ready grown samples from suppliers, but please do check.
In any case the fact that it does grow in such large quantities can be a distinct advantage as the amount of dye each plant produces is very little. Hence the modern use of Indigo as a replacement.
Since the process for dying fabric is extremely long, difficult and week consuming, I have included here only the process for extracting the dye for use as body paint.
The recipe is courtesy of Rowan: (Click here to go to Rowan), and additional information was found in “A dictionary of Dyes and Dying” by K.G. Ponting.
You Will Need:
Woad-or at least the leaves (as fresh as possible)
A whisk or mixer
At least two tall, glass jars.
A Non-stick cooking pan
At least two hours
Something to do while you’re waiting
1-CHOP the leaves into small parts but don’t shred them as this will make life more difficult later on.
2-Put the leaves into a jar and add boiling water. Put the lid on the jar and leave for an hour.
3-Strain the liquid into another container making sure that no plant matter gets through.
4-Add enough ammonia to give PH9 on the litmus paper and beat with a whisk to get as much air in as possible. Getting the air in is important at this stage because the air causes oxidation, which is what turns the dye blue.
5-Put the results into a tall narrow jars and wait 10-15 minutes for the sediment to settle. Don’t worry if the colour at this point isn’t quite right. When the sediment has settled carefully pour off the clear water. Then add more water and let it settle again. Repeat the process until you have a clear liquid with deep blue sediment.
6-Pour off the water and pour the remaining substance into the pan and evaporate off any remaining water.
It is recommended that you use a non-stick pan because the resulting powder goes have a strong tendency to stick. I have no idea what the ancients used to avoid this-It maybe that they simply scraped. For all you purists out there it is worth noting that they did use urine as a source of ammonia. One suspects that they minded less about the smell, or perhaps used it as an additional weapon when fighting upwind.
7-Mix the powder which is left with lard to produce a smearable paint. The dye lies on the surface of the skin and so will not stain after it has been removed. I cannot guarantee that the same rules apply to clothing.