Getting into papermaking mode

Fomitopsis pinicola

Conk nurse tree

My dyepots aren’t yet exhausted, but they’re nearing the end, so it’s time to get into papermaking mindset. I spent a pleasant couple of hours in the forest this afternoon and came home with a whole bag of little red-belted conks (Fomitopsis pinicola). This is a ubiquitous shelf fungus that can grow to huge proportions—more than two feet wide, at times. You might well ask, Why does she not leave the small ones until they grow larger, thus resulting in more raw material?

I’ve learned, dear reader, from experience. As conks grow in size, they grow harder and tougher. I’ve had some soaking for years, and they’re just as hard on the scissors (and hands) now as they were when I first picked them. Even these smallish ones will have to soak for a month or two, but they’re almost pliable at this size and will be fairly easy to handle once I’m ready for them.

And with “nurse trees” like this one, I’m guaranteed a never-ending supply.

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