Now this is strange . . .

Thanks to an abundance of spring rains, we’re seeing mushrooms a few weeks earlier than usual this year—we can only hope this bodes well for an exceptional season later in the year!

Tapinella atrotomentosa
Tapinella atrotomentosa

This gorgeous Tapinella atrotomentosa caught me quite by surprise a few weeks ago. The slugs had already nibbled on it a bit, so I cut off the largest cap, then tucked ferns and the spiky leaves of Oregon grape around the remaining little ones to give them a chance to grow. I took my treasure home, cut it into slices, and put it on the sunny deck to dry. My dearest used the oven that evening when making dinner (he cooks all our meals, which pleases me no end), so I popped the tray of almost-dry mushrooms into the still-warm oven after dinner.

Much to my dismay, my little strips of Velvet Pax looked over-dark the next morning; not exactly burned, but darker than I’d expected. What had I done? I usually don’t find enough of these to treat them so recklessly and callously! There was nothing for it but to put the sorry little bits in a test dyepot with a few strands of mordanted yarn, to gauge the damage.

Clearly I need to get back into the routine—I’d used a little glass pot, and even though I’d set the heat on medium-low, I turned my back for what seemed just a minute, only to turn back and find my little pot almost boiling over. I was sure I’d screwed it up completely.

Tapinella burned then boiledFB

But look what came out of the pot (from left to right: no mordant, alum, iron, copper)—does that not look blue to you?

The dye liquid, although a small amount, was still quite dark, so I popped in another test bundle and watched it this time, careful not to let it get over-hot. And this time the colours were more like what I would expect from a Tapinella pot allowed to overheat.
Tapinella burned exhaustFB

I hesitate to try and repeat these results on a larger scale, but if I find a good number of Tapinella this year, I may just have to.

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4 thoughts on “Now this is strange . . .”

  1. I definitely see blue!!!!! And I too just found five of these so am going to use them fresh, couldn’t believe they were alread out and dh spotted them,three on the forest floor and two on an old stump…also on chantie, and two hydnellum rapanda..which we ate….hope this keeps up and you get lots for your classes…….blue , yes, definely blue!!!!

    1. It’s a crazy year for mushrooms, isn’t it (so far, anyway)? A couple of days ago we found enough chanterelles, plus some winter chanterelles, to top a pizza. I just hope this bodes well for the fall season!

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