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[personal profile] helen99 posting in [community profile] naturaldyes
Note: I haven't tried this yet so can't yet verify how it actually works.

There was a meeting of the Mycological Association of Washington (MAW) this evening. The speaker was Susan Hopkins, who gave a talk on making textile dyes from various types of mushrooms. During the talk, she distributed a handout titled, "The Best Mushrooms for Color: A short Selection of the Best Mushrooms to Dye Wool". My favorite mushroom dye was made from the Hapalopilus Nidulans, which turns a vivid purple when mixed with a strong alkaline like ammonia or potassium hydroxide. That's something I'd like to try - it's a local mushroom so I may be able to find some around where I live. From class notes:

Preparing the wool: Before using the dye on wool, the wool is prepared with a "mordant" (a chemical salt which allows the dye to 'take'). Mordants add "hooks" to the wool so the dye will catch. One type of mordant can be made by mixing 1-2/3 tablespoon of alum, 2 tsp of cream of tartar and 2 cups of hot water. Animal fiber (e.g., raw wool) seems to work better than vegetable fibers such as cotton. Wash the wool in Ivory Snow to remove any oils or dirt, and then simmer it in the mordant for an hour. Move it around in the mordant three times while it's cooking. Let it sit overnight in the mordant. Using rubber gloves, squeeze the excess water out but don't wring it, and then let it air dry.

Preparing the mushrooms: Start with correctly identified mushrooms that have been dried. Use a ratio of one-to-one (one ounce dried mushroom to one ounce wool). Break up the mushrooms into pieces that are as small as possible. Place into a nylon stocking or cheesecloth and tie securely. Submerge in warm water (preferably no chlorine) and soak overnight in a plastic pot. The following day, simmer mushrooms for one hour in water to which has been added enough drops of ammonia to change the PH to 9 (use PH sticks to test the PH of the water).

Once the dye bath is ready, place wool in the dye bath and simmer for an hour

This link shows other dyes that can be made with local mushrooms, some of which I may be able to grow myself. I've had some luck with growing Reishis, which make rust colored dye. Mushrooms for Dyes, Paper, Pigments & Myco-Stix™ by Miriam Rice contains additional information about mushroom dyes.
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