Exploration of mushroom and lichen dyes
Our instructor for the day was Alissa Allen. “Alissa has been experimenting with mushroom derived pigments and sharing her enthusiasm and experience with others for over 15 years. Raised by a forager in the Pacific Northwest, she has been a student of the natural world her entire life. She currently calls Massachusetts home but spends most of her time travelling; studying regional fungi, and teaching residents how to recognize and utilize their local mushroom dye palettes.”
We learned about mushroom safety, identification basics,habitats and ethical harvesting. There has been no evidence of a reaction from skin contact when dealing with mushrooms. There have been cases of people getting sick from poisoned mushrooms, so don’t eat the poisoned ones! 🙂 When harvesting mushrooms be sure to take the ones on the ground or on dying tree branches. You can harvest fungi from trees but not lichen because you would ruin their ecosystem.
Mushroom identification is a learned process, Alissa provided us with a brochure with colored pictures to help assist us with proper identification. She recommended joining Facebook groups such as the Mushroom Dyers Trading Post and visiting her website for more information.
Next up! Dyeing the mushrooms! We helped chopped up different mushrooms and lichen for the jars full of water.
You can now lower or raise the PH levels to cause different color variations, but not too high! Alissa also discussed how to use mordants in the dyeing process.
We were given some recipe cards and handouts for our future fungi dyeing experiments.
We were also able to dye some beautiful silk scarves to take home with us.
Special thanks to Julie Saalsaa and her husband for opening up their farm for us!
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See you on the garden path!