I still find it hard to believe that this luxurious purple comes from a mushroom, Hapalopilus rutilans. This is a small, brown, unassuming shelf fungus found on birch trees, trees that don’t grow in our coastal rainforest—this dyepot was the result of a gift from Sweden.
I like to throw a handful of angelina, a sparkly synthetic fibre, into dyepots to see what colour it will pick up—it’s not always what I expect. (The angelina is sitting on the lighter bundle of roving, which came from the exhaust bath.)
The roving didn’t dye evenly, as I didn’t move it around much in the dyepot—the variation makes for some interesting spinning. I used a ratio of two parts mushrooms to one part fibre.
The mordants on the bundle of test strands, left to right: no mordant, alum, iron, and copper. The sample bits of fibre threaded onto the card, from top to bottom: alum first bath, angelina, alum exhaust bath, iron from a second cooking of the mushrooms.
The copper strand came out a rich, coppery brown. I have enough dried mushrooms for another dyepot, and I think I may have to do that one with a copper mordant.
A cousin to this mushroom, H. nidulans, has been found in northern British Columbia, so I think a trip to the birch forests of the Cariboo would be in order later this year. Two dyepots are clearly not enough!