Thursday, 1 November 2007

This huge clump of madder has now been washed. The soil washed off easily with a hose with a spray attachment . The slightly spongy roots look orange. The centre of the root clumps have lots of very red looking roots. Now I am starting to dry some.
I have dried sone in a very cool fan oven for about six hours. More are on top of my boiler and some I will dry on the drying rack in my studio. I would like to think of a way of steamng them. I have read of a method where a clay oven is heated till red hot. Then the wood is removed. It is then packed with madder roots which are pressed and water is sprinkled on top. I read this in Dominique Cardons book and will have to look up the references. The idea is that the chemicals in the roots change and moe towards the red ones so you get more red dye.


  1. Hi Helen and Enys, I'm very interested in your work with these madder roots. My plants are a few months old, quite small, I didn't realise the roots would get so big!

    The clay oven technique you describe reminds me of traditional bread ovens which were used in this way.

  2. Yes I thought of bread ovens too! Now if I knew soemone with a bread oven maybe I could try it but you would need an aweful lot of madder roots.

  3. Helen, welcome to the wonderful world of blogging! Like Dorothy, I am very interested in what you're doing (I have a bag of madder roots somewhere.) Hopefully soon, I'll be able to get back to dyeing, so I shall follow your blog with great interest.