Exploring Mushrooms and Lichens for Color: Celebrating Our Fungal Forest Dye Palette
Alissa Allen, Instructor
Dates: Friday, November 10th – Sunday, November 12th, 2023 (9am-4pm)
Immerse yourself in nature like never before. Mushrooms and lichens offer a full spectrum of brilliant, permanent dyes. Unlike plants and other cultivated sources, dye fungi do not require, nor can they be farmed. The only way to access this world of color is to protect and nurture the wildlands that surround us and to go forth and collect them yourself. Learn about the ethical practice of mushroom and lichen harvest for dyeing and enhance your regional palette of color.
We will start this workshop with a walk through the forest, taking note of the entire ecosystem. In addition to fungi, we’ll look at the trees, stumps, plants, moss, water sources, and all the critter inhabitants, as we talk about the roles they play in a healthy forest system. We’ll observe mushrooms and lichens in their natural habitats, note their features, and document our findings. We’ll discuss ethical harvest and how it pertains to the practice of using fungal organisms for dyes.
After our walk, we’ll head back to the studio and test our fungi for color. We’ll talk about mordants and the effects of pH modification on the extraction process. After this module, you will forever notice fungi and you’ll know exactly how to approach them for determining their color potential.
Our second day will focus on obtaining optimal dye results, from saturation to fastness, and what you can expect. Using a selection of the region’s most brilliant and abundant dye species, we will extract a full rainbow of color. You’ll take home recipes, samples dyed in class, a two-page guide on the best dye makers, and an informational booklet that outlines everything taught in the workshop. After day two, you will have a strong grasp of how to work with the different dye groups, each of which has a slightly different protocol, and you will have all of the reference material to continue dye research on your own.
On our third day together, we will work with our own protein fiber selections. This part of the workshop allows you to explore and observe the role fiber plays in this magical process. Bring animal fibers in 1 oz parcels, clean and unmordanted, in the form of yarn, bats, hankies, fabric, or finished pieces. We will dye at least 6 of these 1oz parcels per person. Bring more or slightly larger pieces too as there will likely be ample additional dye available. This day is dedicated to taking a more playful approach which I believe is essential to learning. We will work with larger quantities, observe color variations on different fibers, mordant in the pot, and take home enough mushroom-dyed fiber for a project.
Instructor’s Bio: Alissa Allen.pdf;
Syllabus: Mycopigments Syllabus 2022.pdf
Supplies: Supplies Needed for Forest Walk.pdf