by Brady and Erin Raymond
As the rains begin soaking in and temperatures start to drop don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled this fall for dye mushrooms. We often get so consumed with finding the consumables we forget that mushrooms have other uses too. If you are into cooking and you like crafting, specifically with animal fiber, dyeing with mushrooms may be right up your alley. Here’s a quick run down and if you’re interested check out the links at the end of the post for more info.
Phaeolus schweinitzii or the “Dyers Polypore” is probably one of the easiest dyeing mushrooms to be found. They can grow to be quite large and often one comes across the browned and desiccated remains of the previous year. It is, however, the younger specimens of the current year that one hopes to find. Aptly named, the “Dyers Polypore” can yield both a beautiful goldenrod and a rich forest green depending on how the yarn has been mordanted.
Well, not all Cortinarius. Too bad though, there are so many of them. Specifically, you are looking for species with brilliantly colored gills like the specimens photographed above. Some will have brilliant orange or yellow gills as well. These can be easy to walk by and pass off as just another mushroom. The picture on the left shows yarn dyed with Cortinarius smithii, which has red gills. You can get a number of different colors from one mushroom by using different mordants as well as adjusting the dye bath pH.
Oh yes, those delicious lobsters of the forest will give wonderful color as well. The specimens photographed above were eaten as they were still in prime condition, but those old nasty lobsters are the best for dyeing with. This mushroom will also give some great colors with pH modification. Only the red/orange part of the mushroom will yield color, so for a more concentrated dye bath, you can peel the skin off the mushrooms that are still white on the inside. Then you can eat the rest of the mushroom if it still looks good.
Hydnellum aurantiacum (and most other mushrooms with teeth)
This mushroom is just one example of many toothed fungi that are great for the dye pot. Brilliant blues and greens come from mushrooms like these. Shifting the dye bath pH to 9 is required. See the Mushroom Dyes part 3 linked below.
If you want to learn more about dyeing with mushrooms check out these articles from the archives. In these articles, Erin goes over the basics. The supplies you need, what mordants are, and a few different types of mushrooms.