Unpredictable but beautiful colours

Velvet Pax colours

My first mushroom dyepot of the season, using Tapinella atrotomentosa (Velvet Pax) yielded the colours on the left. I’d seen some nice purple from this mushroom on unmordanted wool, and that’s what I was hoping to get on the large (unmordanted) sample at the left; it turned out to be more brown than purple. The lighter sample to its right was the exhaust bath, while the lovely purple was a small piece mordanted with alum.

(Confession: I’ve begun putting my fibre inside a very fine mesh lingerie bag so I can extract colour and dye the fibre at the same time. When this batch began to heat up, I smelled the distinct odour of washing soda, leaving me to think I hadn’t rinsed the bag completely at the end of last year’s season. My next batch with this mushroom will get a pinch of washing soda to see how that affects the colour.)

Proceeding to another batch of fresh mushrooms (and a thoroughly rinsed mesh bag), I put a large piece of alum-mordanted wool into the dyepot, and instead of purple, I got this great olive green! The alum-treated silk scrunchy also went through that dyebath, while the sample on the far right was mordanted with copper.

I wonder if the phases of the moon, or the way I crinkle my eyebrows, has anything to do with the unpredictable results from this mushroom.

6 thoughts on “Unpredictable but beautiful colours”

    1. Look for these on old, mossy stumps or growing on the sides of fallen logs. Their brown, velvety stems give them away – they can’t be confused with anything else. I have a few “nurse stumps” that produce them year after year, and now’s the time to find them, at least in this part of the world.

    1. the advice I have gotten is “when you see purple, remove the wool.” I keep trying to capture these purples, (also found in Ompholotus olivascens) and some times I do, but every batch is different.

      1. I have enough dried Velvet Pax for one more dyebath, so I’ll watch closely and give this a try. I’ve never had the pleasure of using Omphalotus, the holiest of my holy grails.

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