Adventures with Mushroom Dyeing

A couple of weekends ago the weavers and spinners contingent of the Powell River Fine Arts were lucky enough to have Ann Harmer come up from Pender Harbour and lead us in a 2 day mushroom dyeing workshop.  You can check out Ann’s fantastic blog of her own mushroom adventures here.

The first day the group headed out into the forest around Powell River eager to find mushrooms that would give us colour.


After tramping about in the woods lots of mushrooms were found.  When we headed back to the Fine Arts Facility Ann’s wealth of knowledge correctly identified the shrooms that would hopefully give up some of their colourful pigments.


The next day we prepared the mushrooms for the dye baths.  We had four main types of mushrooms that we were going to be working with.

These are Hypomyces lactifluorum, (Lobster mushrooms).  They need to be peeled and this is the result of the brightly coloured parings.

4lobster parings

This next picture is Hydnellum aurantiacum, a toothed fungus, cut up into small pieces and in the pot!

3hydnellum aur in pot

Next up is Phaeolus schwinitzii, or Dyer’s Polypore often found on old fir stumps.  I don’t have a pic of the “schnitzel” as I call it but here, Lois, Lis and Amy, (our guest from Campbell River) are working hard on the preparations.

5prepping 4 the pot

Last up is the beautiful, (well I think so anyway!) Tapinella atrotomentosa or Velvet pax.  Look at this lovely specimen.

6Velvet Pax 1

We also had some other varieties that we experimented with but these four were the ones that we worked with and produced samples for the whole group.  We had already premordanted our wool with a) alum/cream of tartar b) iron and c) copper.  Here we are, hard at work, (in other words having loads of fun and getting messy).

7hard at work

And here are the end results.  We got some great colours !

8photo (8)

Here are my sample sheets that we all made up.

9photo (9)

What a great experience and we learned SO much.  Thank you Ann for a wonderful workshop and Marty for organizing it. Thank you also to Doreen for being the official photographer and sharing these photos with us.

By Fran Cudworth

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