Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mushroom Dyeing

I haven't been hooking much lately, I'm getting ready for an exciting new dye project. I have been in love with mushrooms for forty years. I used to hike around in wild areas just to see them, and way back when, I could even identify dozens of kinds, at least by common names. I had two friends who were my former teachers and who were also excited about mushrooms and wild flowers. We used to go hiking with our Euell Gibbons Stalking the Wild Asparagus and other identification books and "stalk" for hours. We ate a lot of wild plants, which worked out okay because they were both gourmet cooks - I was just an eater. Unfortunately, they have both passed on, and I have been too busy for some years now to do much stalking.

This year, I decided I couldn't wait much longer to stalk some more, even if I just go on short little hunts. I started my hunting on the internet, ordered several mushroom identification books, but I'm finding that none compare to the one I used to use. I'm going to have to hunt through my books at the farm and see if I can't find that good old book. I also acquired a highly recommended book about dyeing with mushrooms - had it here for two weeks before I had enough time to open it. People seem to have stopped using common names for mushrooms, everything is listed under scientific names, which makes it much harder for me to re-learn what I used to know. I have gathered quite a few mushrooms anyway, figuring I'll identify them later.

I'm trying to figure out how to dry the mushrooms before they turn all gooey. I put them in a covered dyepot with some newspaper, then put the pot in the sunshine. I thought the heat would dry them pretty quick, but not so. Three days, so far, and they haven't changed a bit, other than making a good spore print.

While the ones I have collected are drying, I'll have to figure out how many I need to dye. I believe the dye process is basically the same as other natural dyeing, various mordants making different colors, etc. - but I have a lot to learn.

1 comment:

gardens4harmony said...

There's a wonderful website and book about using mushrooms for dyeing fibers: http://www.mushroomsforcolor.com/