Mycopigments: Exploring Mushroom and Lichen Dyes with Alissa Allen

Recently I took a mycopigments workshop with the ever so talented Alissa Allen (website here). She was visiting the Nashville IN area for a mushroom festival, and had decided to drop into Bloomington IN to host a 5 hour class on dyeing with mushrooms and lichens. Being an amateur fiber artist, I was obviously interested. When I tried to sign up for the class, I was told that it was full, but after emailing her, Alissa decided that she could squeeze one more person in, so I was very happy to be there!

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We first started off by getting acquainted with the basic process of natural dyes, which weren’t too different from vegetable and berry dyeing. You need to prepare the fiber, mordant the fiber, prepare the dye, and then finally dye the fiber.

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Some of the mushrooms and lichens we worked with were those that are local to us, such as the Dyers Polypore. Others included the Red-Gilled Cort, the King Bolete, and the Sponge-footed Tooth. With mushroom season coming up, I was excited to think about all the harvesting and dyeing possibilities!

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We had to go outside to shake out the mushroom bits, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. As we rinsed out the excess dye, we oohed and aahed at the brilliant and vibrant colours we had created.

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And finally, a picture of all the colours we were able to harvest! It was fascinating to see how the pH modifiers would change the colours back and forth from bright pinks to sunset oranges.

I would definitely recommend her class if it is available near you. If anything, it is a great introductory class to natural dyes, and a supplementary class if you are already a seasoned forager and dyer. I had a lot of fun, and we went home with our own mushroom-dyed shibori silk shibori scarves as well!

Signing off,
Marie

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