curvylou

textiles · exploration · misadventure

More Lichen More

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Red apples on the tree, dark green leaves, darker, scary lichen, and a light green fluffly lichen/moss.
I recently finished sample dyeing with the two lichens* pictured above—the scaly lichen flush with the tree bark, and the fluffy, light green lichen (moss?) standing out from it.

I crumbled the scaly lichen, chopped the fluffy one, and boiled them each in their own pot for an hour or more to extract the dyes.

Oddly, I find pictures of boiling lichens hypnotic. I took about thirty of these:
Blurry pictures of lichens boiling, bright yellow and tan.

My favorites are the two below, where I can see visual evidence of the various shades I eventually found on my dyed wools. I find the darker one particularly luscious, especially the bubbles, which remind me of honeycomb.
Boiling lichens; liquor and bubbles are various shades of honey.
Boiling lichens; liquor and bubbles are various shades of honeys, bronzes, maples.

Big soup pots on the back deck, full of boilt lichens.Then, as usual, I cooled, strained, and divvied the dye equally into jars, and popped in my variously mordanted wools and cottons.

I treated these samples the same as the earlier lichen: let them sit three days, then simmered gently for an hour in a double boiler, which kept each mordanted sample separate, then cooling a day or two before washing.

At this point, I’m not sure if I needed to go to the double boiler extreme to keep the mordants separate. I’ve read that when samples with various mordants are combined in one pot, mordants can interact and affect results. When I dyed the bougainvillea (for the fourth time) I said hell with it, combined alum and soy mordanted fibers in the same pot, and still had different results for the different mordants. My conclusion is: I have no idea. Ha.

Results, again, were outstandingly lovely wools—honey, maple, bronze, silvered bronze, peach—and blah cottons. Oddly enough, two very different looking dyestuffs rendered very similar results.

Lichen-dyed wool and cotton. Wools are various shades of honey, maple, bronze. Cottons are blech.

Top: dye results of the light green fluffy lichen/moss, which turned yellow during dye extraction
Bottom: dye results of the scaly lichen
Mordants, left to right: alum/cream of tartar, brass, copper, iron, gelatin, soy, pee.

Lichen-dyed cotton.  Light tans and beiges, barely any color at all. Bleck!

Mordants: Booo, I lost track. Probably because I didn’t care. The only one I’m sure of is the iron mordant, rusty, center. Possibly the one to the right of it is soy.

The yarns, sans cotton background, are glorious.

Glorious lichen-dyed wools in various shades of honeys, maples, and bronzes.

Top: dye results of the light green fluffy lichen/moss, which turned yellow during dye extraction
Bottom: dye results of the scaly lichen
Mordants, left to right: alum/cream of tartar, brass, copper, iron, gelatin, soy, pee.

Possibly my failure to achieve any color of interest or note on the cotton samples is a failure to adequately mordant. I’m mordanting the hell out of some new cotton samples, spinning up some fine silk and wool, and will try these lichen dyes on those with my remaining dyestuff.

Jaunty ball of fine silk handspun, off-white.

*Please note that lichen harvesting is controversial, and I harvested very little. For my past posts on lichen dyeing and a little more information, see here, and here. For further information, see India Flint’s Eco-Colour (I found it at my local library). Please use caution and your good sense.

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