Dyer’s polypore results

Phaeolus buttons1
Colours from fresh Phaeolus

Here are the results from the two smallish, fairly fresh Phaeolus schweinitzii I mentioned in my Sept 3 post. This image doesn’t do justice to the colours – they are actually brighter than they appear here. I used a small dyepot and small skeins, one at a time, and kept the heat on low the whole time. You can see the colours in succession, from left to right. The first two baths gave duller colours (the smaller skein third from the left was mordanted in iron; all the rest were mordanted with alum), but as I did more exhausts, the gold got brighter, than faded to a soft yellow.

Phaeolus buttons, second batch
Phaeolus buttons

So when I found a group of Phaeolus buttons, still fuzzy yellow and unopened, I decided to repeat the process. Again, the succession of dyebaths goes from left to right, this time with the smaller skein having been mordanted in copper. I dyed a silk scarf in the third dyebath, with beautiful results, and again the successive dyebaths faded to a warm yellow.

Disappointing Phaeolus buttons
Disappointing Phaeolus buttons

I’d had my eye on a place where I found a large grouping of Phaeolus last year, so when I found them coming out this year at a nice button stage, I went at them with my knife, in great anticipation of their giving the same brilliant gold. I cut them into chunks about two inches wide and ended up with a good two cupsful of mushrooms in my dyepot. Again, I kept the heat low, and in went a large (100g) skein, and look what resulted: a nice mushroom tan! Thinking that this dyebath might behave like my first attempt above, where the colour actually brightened after a couple of tries, I put a copper-mordanted skein in for the second exhaust – and got a dull army blanket green!

I don’t want to discard all those good mushrooms yet (or turn them into paper), but I don’t want to waste any more wool if the colour isn’t going to improve, so I’ve taken a bit of the dyebath and a few pieces of mushroom and put them in my smaller test dyepot with a smaller skein. We’ll see what happens with this.

Blue-staining slippery jack
Blue-staining slippery jack

I might as well be dyeing with slippery jack!

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