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!


Getting the dyepot ready

First dyer's polypore this year
First dyer's polypore this year

Our summer has been so very dry this year that I’m not finding too many mushrooms of any kind in the forest out back. I did find a couple of small Phaeolus schweinitzii near a boggy area, and these were already partially dried. I put them in my small dyepot and did a slow almost-simmer for four or five hours, then dyed some sample skeins, which came out a lovely, rich gold. I then returned the pieces of the polypore back to the dyepot for another few hours, and now a second sample dyebath is in the works. I want to see how many of these little dyebaths I can get from the two mushrooms – I’ll have photos up shortly.

All together now . . . rain dance!

Flash!! David Arora coming to Pender Harbour!

I’ve been working with a small group of people who are organizing the first Sunshine Coast Mushroom Fest, to be held here in Madeira Park on October 16-18. As we blue-skied about what we wanted this festival to look like and wondered who we should invite to speak at our first event,  David Arora’s name came up, as in, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow get David Arora up this way to talk to us?”

Well, guess what? David’s driving up from California in October to attend a couple of other mushroom events in these parts, and said he’d be more than happy to take part in our little mushroom celebration. He’ll be speaking the evening of October 17, then taking a limited number of people (thirty) on a foray/ID workshop on Sunday the 18th. Registration will take place through the Iris Griffith Interpretive Centre – I’m not sure when details will be up on their website (www.lagoonsociety.com), but if you can possibly make it here on that weekend, it will be well worth it.

Velvet pax – despite the heat

Tapinella atrotomentosa
Tapinella atrotomentosa

We went into the forest on the weekend, not expecting to find anything in the way of fungus (given our current long spell of hot, very, very dry weather), so I was thrilled to find one mossy stump with four of these beauties – Paxillus atrotomentosus, aka Tapinella atrotomentosa) growing out of the wood. I’d found a couple on this same stump last year and expected to find some later in the month, after our usual August rains.

These were clearly drying out – note the cracks on the cap – so I picked them, but left the other button-sized speciments to flesh out a bit.

The other little mushroom I referred to in my last post came out of the freezer this week and is currently sitting in a jar of water in the full sun, and the liquid has turned brown.  I’ll let it cook there until our next rain (please let that be soon!), then see what colour results.

Mushrooms are popping!

Velvet pax1 Aug11_08I’ve found a couple of small Velvet Pax (Paxillus atrotomentosus or Tapinella atrotomentosa) in the forest behind us, one on a mossy stump and one at the base of a dead tree (on which are also growing some varnished conk). I was surprised to find them so early, but apparently the June rains brought them out. They weren’t as large as those in the image here, but they were still unmistakeable, with the brown velvet on their stems and the purplish discoloration where the bugs or squirrels had nibbled at them.

Velvet pax 2009Of course, I had to try the first little specimen (its cap was already cracking) in the dyepot, and here are the results. This is the mushroom that has been known to give a purple colour, but here the alum-mordanted sample (top) has a definite greenish cast, while the iron-mordanted sample below is a nice army-blanket green.

The second mushroom I found is currently sitting in the freezer; I’m wondering if that might make a difference to the colour.

Mushroom Bowler

Mushroom bowlerHere’s a variation on the mushroom bowl: a bowler hat! It’s still sitting on the metal bowl I used as a form, but it should be ready to pop away in a few days. Given the shrinkage rate of this paper, I doubt the hat will fit on my own head, but maybe someone will find it useful.

Mushroom jewelry

Mushroom jewelry
Mushroom jewelry

I’ve been playing with mushroom paper beads lately, as well as using turkey tails for making jewelry – a whole new world, this, but a good way to spend evenings in front of the TV.

Once the beads are dry, I drill holes in them with my Dremel, then string them onto some twine and brush on a few coats of Verathane, for strength and waterproofing. Then they’re ready to use. For the whole turkeytails, I Dremel the top edge so it’s fairly flat, then drill a hole in the top for the wire loops.

All of these pieces will get tossed into the freezer for a few days, just to make sure no little critters remain inside!