Monday, September 21, 2015

Lichen and Mushroom Dyeing

My lichen has been fermenting away in ammonia. The Peltigera aphthosa has turned a beautiful colour in the jar. It has gone from a reddish-brown colour, like in the picture below, to a deeper red that is veering towards purple.
All this from a green lichen! (Pictured below)
 In my other jar, the colour remains a muddy brown. I suspect that I misidentified the species as Alectoria sarmentosa, when it might be an Usnea species.
Yesterday, I found a branch broken off of a tree, covered in wolf lichen (Lethoria vulpina). What a score! I also found some rocktripe lichen and xanthoria. It's nice that they can sit and dry until I find more, detached from their substrate (it's going to take awhile before I have enough to dye with!).  I plan on dyeing small groups of yarn in the different lichen colours to make a Fair Isle sweater. For the main body though, I'll use mushroom dyes, so I don't overdue it with lichen.
 Mushroom dyes? Yes, that's right. You can also make dyes with mushrooms. This is a recent discovery (1970s), so there isn't a complete amount of data on it. And I'm sure there are many types of mushrooms that have yet to be tried. Now, I don't think I could identify a single species of mushroom, so I've been learning all about how to identify them. Mostly I feel totally lost (which is why I will never eat wild mushrooms- a little mistake could be deadly), but it is fun to try to identify them! One of the surest ways to help identify them is to make a spore print with the caps. You set some mushroom caps on paper overnight and the spores drop from the gills onto the paper, revealing the colour of their spores and giving you a pretty cool image. Check out some of the spore prints I made last week:

 On a hike yesterday, I was able to find a few different mushrooms that may make some dyes. Below is Suillus tomentosus (I think!) which may make a yellow dye. Experiments to follow.
 And I think these are Gomphidius glutinosus, Slimy Gomphidius, which would make brown dyes. Gomphidius subroseus, Rosy Gomphidius, which make beige and brown dyes.

 This is Strap Coral Fungus, Clavariadelphus ligula, which can make beige, light green, light brown, or greyish purple, depending on the mordant used. I didn't harvest any of these, but maybe I'll make a trip back.

 Oh, there was also a view from the top, which I barely had time to notice as my eyes were fixed to the ground looking for mushrooms and lichen.
Now, I just need to get some yarn to dye with and I'll be set. I wish I knew how to spin!

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