mercredi 9 février 2011

Lichen Experiments

It's not very easy to take pictures of a murky dye solution in a small jar, but I thought a few pictures might be helpful.  I'm going to re-post some pictures from a previous post in order to make it clear which lichens are fermenting in each jar.
I have 6 jars with six different kinds of lichen.  They are all macerating in the same solution of one part ammonia to two parts water.  I have them sitting out on the kitchen counter so that I remember to shake them as much as possible.  Four of the jars are making lots of color, while two of them look like failures.

Oak moss growing on a branch.

This first jar is the oak moss solution.  It turned a brilliant yellow green within seconds of coming into contact with the ammonia solution.  It's now an intriguing yellow orange color.

Oak moss fermentation.
    Because I have so much of this lichen I'm probably going to use it mostly for a more traditional water bath dye extraction.  Oak moss has a lovely strong smell and is used as a fixative in perfumes.  Wool that is dyed with oak moss keeps this smell for years.  I'm not sure if the ammonia fermentation ruins the smell, but I have a hunch that it will.
This is my most promising jar.

Yellow lichen turned brick red.

Yellow Lichen on an almond tree.

    This is most certainly a lichen that contains the magical orchil acid.  I had read that most lichens containing this acid grow on rocks and are very slow to grow.  This was a wonderful surprise.  After a couple of months fermenting I should be able to get a magenta dye.  The best part of this discovery is that this lichen grows on many trees in my area, and I know it grows quickly because in two short years it's covered a young almond tree I planted.

The next two jars are two different shades of brown.  They look like they're making some nice rich dyes, but I'm on the hunt for purple right now.

A rich dark brown broth.

    These last two are probably failures.  They were both types of lichen that, when wet. have an algae like texture and color.   You can't win them all. 

Algae looking lichen.


A little bit of color, but not enough for a dye bath.

2 commentaires:

  1. Does the growth of the lichen affect the almonds ? My almond tree has branches of lichen and there's now growth of leaves or almonds on these branches.

  2. Hi Phil, I don't think that the lichens are your problem. They're probably growing on the branches because the branches are sick or dead.