Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dyeing With Mushrooms Workshop

I may have mentioned on this blog a few times that I have been organizing a mushroom dyeing workshop for our small town of Fort St. James. Well, it actually happened! Alissa Allen, from Mycopigments, flew up here and taught us all about mushroom dyeing for a whole weekend. And not only that, but I got to spend time with her foraging during her week-long visit. It was so much fun and I learned so much!
On some of our forage walks, we were lucky enough to spot Hapalopilus nidulans, the most exciting and sought after dye mushroom in the world! I have since found a few more specimens for my collection. It dyes a gorgeous purple. It grows on decomposing birch logs (but not too decomposed!).
Very excited about our Hapalopilus finds! Prior to having Alissa here, I had no idea whether or not we had any good dye mushrooms in this area- apart from Phaeolus schweinitzii. I was pleasantly surprised to find all sorts of cool treasures!
We started out the weekend with a guided forage out in the woods. We found a few mushrooms to use for dyeing, but we also learned about a great many others! We brought all of our specimens back to label and look at.
In the evening, we had fun dyeing silk scarves shibori-style using mushrooms dyes. The next day was our intensive, 5-hour course. We had the propane burners set up outside, ready for all of our testers.
Cortinarius semisanguineus, leeching colour into the water. Look at that red! By modifying the yarn with different mordants and pH levels, we got pink, red, purple, and orange from this one mushroom!
Cortinarius croceus turned the water orange at first and when we added vinegar, it shifted to yellow. The colour wasn't super bright, but I would like to try again with this mushrooms without adding vinegar, and maybe with a higher fungus to fibre ratio.
Hypomyces lactifluorum, otherwise known as lobster mushroom. When added it to the water, it didn't do much until...
...We added ammonia, and then it released its colour!
Good old Phaeolus schweinitzii! Again, with different mordants and pH levels (and after dips in different pH baths), we got a variety of colours from pale yellow, to golden, to deep green, to a yummy yellow-green.
This is some of the Hydnellum aurantiacum (or something similar) that we found in our forests. It made gorgeous bluey-green-grey colours.
And our very own Hapalopilus nidulans! Look at that purple begin to seep into the water!
Alissa and I were very excited to try that Hapalopilus out!
Letharia vulpina is a lichen that makes a lovely chartreuse colour (that smells fantastic too!).
Checking on our simmering yarn.
Look at the Hypomyces lactifluorum! We dipped one end in a vinegar bath and it turned orange and the other end in an ammonia bath and it turned purple!
I was very pleased with the results of the Hapalopilus nidulans!
Our pallet of local colours! Look at them all! My camera does a very poor job of picking up colour, but I can reassure you that it was brilliant!
Our class.
After Alissa went home, we have been going out mushroom foraging and having some great success! I have two very eager helpers! Rain doesn't stop them in their "banana suits!"
We have found quite a few Cortinarius semisanguineus or smithii, used for making red dyes. It is always such a thrill to turn over a dull brown cap to find brilliant red gills underneath.
And we lucked out and found another little log covered in Hapalopilus! It feels like such a treasure hunt whenever we go out!

Have you ever tried dyeing with mushrooms? Did you even know that it was possible? You will find that after you discover mushroom dyes, you will start looking at the forest in a different way. You'll be noticing all sorts of fungi everywhere!

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