Dyeing with Dyer’s Polypor

On March 17th some members of the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild gathered for the first in a series of three mushroom dyeing workshops given by Ann Harmer (Mushroom Annie).


Ann has a wealth of knowledge and experience with our local mushrooms and their use for eating, dyeing and papermaking.  She brought along two wonderful binders filled with mushroom-dyed samples.


The mushroom we focused on this week was Dyer’s polypor (Phaeolus schweinitzii).  This mushroom grows only on old wood and starts appearing in early September.  Ann took this photo of a Dyer’s polypor in mid-October of last year.

3Phaeolus schweinitzii

Ann showed us her Dyer’s polypor sample card.


The goal of the workshop was to use dried Dyer’s polypor to dye wool that had no mordant, wool which had been mordanted with alum, copper and iron and then do a post-mordanting with copper and iron.  The first step was making labels out of Tyvek and attaching them to the wool.


Then we weighed the mushrooms, using 2 parts per weight of dried mushrooms to 1 part fibre.  The mushrooms were put in a fine-mesh bag and then broken into small pieces.


The bags of mushrooms and the wool were put into pots with just enough water to cover and were brought to a simmer and held just below the boiling point.  We kept a close eye on the pots.



After the wool had coloured nicely we removed it from the pots and Ann post–mordanted some with iron and copper.


Finally, we laid out all the labeled wool to admire our work.


Thank you Ann for a wonderful day!

By Heather Apple

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