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shades of Pisolithus

Posted on Mar 14, 2011 by in mushroom dyes, natural dyes | 2 comments

Judging from its appearance, I never would have imagined that the humble Pisolithus tinctorius would yield such a beautiful spectrum of gold to chestnut brown color for the dye pot! I haven’t yet harvested one of these fungal dye treasures myself, but Dorothy Beebee offered me a piece that was left after SOMA camp, and I happily brought it home with me.

yarns dyed with the dyer’s puffball, Pisolithus tinctorius

The piece of Pisolithus was somewhat hard and dry, so after leaving it in a bucket of rain water for a little over a week to soften, I put on my rubber gloves and broke it into smaller pieces. Then I poured the mixture into one of my dye pots and put it on the stove to heat. I let it simmer for about an hour, let the liquid cool, and then strained it to remove the bits of Pisolithus from the pot. The dye bath was a very dark brown.

Next I immersed two skeins of yarn that had been previously mordanted with alum, and then soaked in rain water. I let the liquid heat slowly and kept it to a low simmer, and after about 4 hours I turned the heat off and let the pot sit overnight. The color of the yarn was a rich brown with coppery highlights! One of the skeins is a handspun yarn of wool and alpaca that I will be combining with some of my Dermocybe dyed yarns for a scarf project, shown in the photo below.

The next day I put another skein in the pot and slowly heated the liquid to a simmer. After an hour and a half I turned the heat off and let it sit overnight. This skein came out a beautiful coppery brown. I repeated my experiment one more time, leaving the pot on the heat for an hour. This time I removed the yarn after letting the pot cool for an hour and a half and it was a unique gold color. It’s very difficult to capture these colors with a camera, but you can see the variation in the photo above, if not the exact color.

yarns dyed with Democybe mushrooms and the dyer’s puffball, Pisolithus tinctorius

2 Comments

  1. It surprising that a fungus that represents dog poo in all but smell can produce such wonderful colours

    • Isn’t it? I enjoyed browsing your website, Clive. You have clearly spent a lot of time in the world of fungi!