|The underside of Trametes versicolor is always white|
|The two test baths|
Now, on to the lichens. I live in a place that is fortunate enough to have a wealth of lichens. Some lichens produce an acid called orchil. These lichens, if fermented in an ammonia solution, can produce pinks, reds, purples and blues. When I first started testing lichens I dried and crushed them, put them in glass jars and tried to ferment them in order to see if they contained any orchil, but there is an easier way.
|Melanelixia subargentifera -scraped area at center of photo|
|Melanelixia subargentifera - red reaction from bleach at center of photo|
|Punctelia subrudecta - red reaction at center of photo|
The two lichens that tested positive yesterday were Melanelixia subargentifera and Punctelia subrudecta. I recommend collecting lichens that have been growing in full sunlight as this seems to cause them to produce stronger dyes. Collecting lichens is always easier just after a good rain and I find it's easier to collect them from smooth barked trees such as plum trees, figs, blackthorns etc. Always remember not to take more than ten percent of the lichen present and be 100% sure that you know what you're collecting. Lichens are very slow growing. Some of them are very rare.
|Left to Right: Punctelia subrudecta and Melanelixia subargentifera|
After sealing the jar tightly you shake the mixture as many times as you can remember per day for at least one month. It can take up to 16 weeks for the dye liquor to fully mature.
How you choose to use the liquor for dying is up to you. I always dilute the liquor so that the fiber is not damaged by the high Ph. Sometimes I do a long cold dyeing process and sometimes I heat the dye bath. I always heat it very slowly and don't go above 82C.
Lichen dyes produced in this way are sensitive to light, so be sure and store your dyed fiber in a dark place.
On my lichen hunt I also stumbled upon some larger bracket fungi called Pellinus tuberculosus.
|Old Pellinus Tuberculosus - not good for dyeing|
|Younger specimens of Pellinus tuberculosus|