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fibershed mushroom dye class

Posted on Mar 5, 2013 by in mushroom dyes, natural dyes, workshops | 3 comments

Last Saturday I had the fun of co-teaching a Fibershed sponsored mushroom dye class with Katharine Jolda. What a magical day it was! Because my focus was on teaching the class, I didn’t have time to take photos. But one of the students, Dona Snow, posted an album on Picasa, and has kindly given permission for me to share the link to the album and a few of her photos in this post.

We set up a display of dye mushrooms and dye samples at the mushroom dye class, as well as a beautiful board of plant dye samples designed by Rebecca Burgess. Photo by Dona Snow.

In addition to sample boards, I also made some quick shibori samples to demonstrate techniques that could be used on the silk scarves that we gave the students to dye. Photo by Dona Snow.

The setting for the workshop was the ranch of Mary Pettis-Sarley, one of the Fibershed Producers. And a dream setting it is!

Wouldn’t you love this setting as a dye studio? Photo by Dona Snow.

The mushrooms that Katharine and I had on hand were Omphalotus olivascens (some frozen and some dried), Phaeolus schweinitzii (dried), Pisolithus tinctorius (dry), Gymnopilus spectabilis (frozen), Dermocybe cinnamomea (dried) and Dermocybe phoenicea var. occidentalis (dried). We dyed samples of wool from Mill Valley that had been spun at Yolo Wool Mill, as well as some silk.

Towards the end of class we spread out the samples that we had dyed on the table, so we could see the variety of color produced. Very satisfying! Photo by Dona Snow.

All the samples were cut into smaller pieces so that each student got samples of all the mushroom dye colors produced. I was especially pleased with the variety of colors we obtained from Omphalotus olivascens, depending on the mordant used.

Yarn dyed with Omphalotus olivascens. Iron mordant produced the green, alum mordant produced the bluish gray, and no mordant plus vinegar in the dye bath produced the purple. Photo by Dona Snow.

Dermocybe phoenicea var. occidentalis is always a crowd pleaser! Left to right: with no mordant, with seawater mordant, with alum mordant, with iron mordant. Photo by Dona Snow.

Students did some creative things with clamping techniques on silk scarves. Photo by Dona Snow.

I’ll be teaching another beginning mushroom dye class next January at SOMA Camp, and Katharine and I hope to teach future mushroom dye classes for Fibershed as well. It all depends on finding mushrooms though, and that depends on the rain. It has been such a dry winter here, and it feels so good to hear the rain again tonight as I write!

Thanks to everyone who attended the class, to Rebecca Burgess for encouraging us to teach it, to Anna Smith Clark for taking photos for Fibershed, and to Mary and Chris for hosting at their beautiful home, which is also home to many adorable fiber animals. Mary sells the yarn from her animals on the Fibershed Marketplace if you wish to knit with a bit of wool/alpaca/mohair from our California countryside.

Mary and Chris’s place couldn’t have been a better setting for the class. Photo by Dona Snow.

Mary’s flock enjoys life in the beautiful Napa countryside! Photo by Dona Snow.


  1. Hello Dustin, the colors from the mushrooms are so beautiful. I never imagined they would turn out that way, especially blues! I’m sorry I missed this class though I do not think I got an email/newsletter. Maybe I should resubmit my name, or bookmark the blog(s) again (?) Anyway, looks like it was a dream of a day. You are teaching great stuff – and the setting for the class looked spectacular too.

  2. Hi Janis! Yes, the colors are surprising indeed. The class was promoted to Fibershed members first, and it filled up right away, so I never had a chance to make a more general announcement. Hope things are going well with your calligraphy.

  3. This sounds like such a fantastic workshop!