Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dyeing with lichen

On a walk this morning I found a small piece of lichen that had fallen off of a tree. Knowing that lichens can be used to dye with, with a wonderful, and surprising, range of colors, I pocketed it and brought it home.
At home, I plunked it in a small pot with about a cup of water (it was  a small piece, about 2inches x 1 inch). I simmered it for about 10 or 15 minutes and it produced an orange/yellow color.
In the picture below is the piece of lichen after the simmering process. It had originally been pale, dusty green in color:
I added a slight pinch of alum and an even slighter pinch of cream of tartar to the color pot as mordant, and then tossed in a swatch of some type of white wool yarn that I had on hand. I simmered the 4" x 2" swatch for another 10 or 15 minutes, until most of the color had been taken up by the wool.
Below, you can see the dyed swatch next to the limp, wet, piece of lichen:
What a surprising color from a bit of lichen! I've never dyed with lichens before, but if the opportunity arises to gather lichens in larger amounts, I'll certainly plunk them into the dye pot.


Nicole Beadwright Campanella said...

Very nice color. Next time you do this try crushing the lichen before boiling. You will get an even different color.

ICQB said...

Hi, Nicole!

I WILL certainly try that, thanks for the tip!