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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Dabbling with Dyes

Told you I'd got the bug again for lichen dyeing, didn't I.  We were out the other day and I went for a walk at the edge of a forest.  I'd taken a carrier bag in anticipation and wasn't disappointed, there was lots to collect.

The first interesting thing I found was this :-

This is orange peel fungus which was growing on a dead branch on the ground, so I didn't feel bad about bringing it home.  In fact everything I collected was on bits of dead branches which were lying on the ground.  Don't know if I'd ever get any colour from this, but there wasn't enough anyway.

The following two lichens both went into the dyepot yesterday

I don't know what this one is called because it's very similar to lots of other lichens.  I think it's a pretty common one though.

This one, I think, is oak moss lichen and there was lots of it.  Quite a lot had blown out of the trees and was just lying on the ground.  After I'd cooked up this one and strained it, I was left with quite a pale green coloured liquid and didn't have very high hopes for it at all. When the wool was put in it gradually became a really nice pale sage green which I was very happy about as I haven't managed to get green from natural dyes yet (other than dyeing blue and then yellow).  When it came out though and was rinsed, it turned quite a pretty yellow.

It actually doesn't look like this at all - it's much yellower.

The green lichen almost had a very sad end . . . I almost burned it!  I'd put the pan on very low to simmer quietly for a while, then went into the garden and did a bit of weeding. Unfortunately, I got carried away and did a bit more than I'd planned - completely forgot about the pan.  When I went back to the kitchen the pan was almost dry and the lichen had stuck to the bottom.  I put some more water in and gave it a good stir and let it cook for a bit longer.  Luckily, I hadn't lost the colour, and this is what eventually came out :-

It looks a bit patchy here, but when it's carded up and spun that patchiness will disappear.

While I was at it, I decided to put the wool I dyed last week back into the apricot bark dye bath.  It did absorb more colour this time and I'm much happier with it now.

Again, it'll look a lot different when it's spun.

After I'd finished the afternoon's dyeing, I went for a walk in the garden to see if there was anything else to be gathered.  I found quite a lot of a quite insignificant looking lichen so brought some inside to identify.

I don't know what's going on with my camera, but this is actually yellow all over.  This is xanthoria parientina which is an orchil-bearing lichen.  This is treated quite a lot differently to extract the dye as it's fermented in ammonia and water for 3 or 4 weeks until the liquid turns red.  It's then strained and the wool inserted, which turns red.  When it comes out and is hung up in the fresh air, it then turns blue or purple.  How cool is that!!

This is actually a bit of a pain to collect as it has to be scraped off the branches and twigs, but I think it's going to be well worth it.  As you can see, I don't have enough yet, but hopefully tomorrow I'll go and collect more.

I had a root around on the firewood pile too and found some interesting looking bracket fungi.  I haven't photographed these yet because they're a bit inaccessible.  I'll pull some out in a day or two and then maybe see if I can get any colour out of them.  Lots of projects to come!

P.S.  The drum carder is back in action.  The drive band is fine, two of the little pulleys on the side must have become a bit dry and were difficult to turn, but after all the oil I put on there they loosened up again.

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