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Lichen Recap

28 Jul


I’ve had many questions on my lichen processing. Most of my skeins are mordanted with 12% wof of alum sulfate. sometimes I add 6% Cot.

Here is a recap from my old blog and some great reference links.

Collecting windfall-easiest to peel off branches on wet dew or rainy morning

My old blog, still transferring info slowly and surely with the recipes

My photos on my old blog with more process examples:

A nice article by Glenna Dean in the Turkey Red Journal on lichens. It was nice to meet her to get a scientific point of view on my lichen journey:

Finally a group collaboration led by Glenna Dean in comparing our process notes and working thru Glenna’s process in Turkey Red Journal. Most of us had worked with lichens before so there were some great conversations.

And an example of photo synthesis with a different lichen, Teloschistes Exilis



Lichen, Persimmon Vintages and fresh Weld results

23 Jul

I am a little late posting my results but better late than never!  May I add that it was not the smartest practice for me to run lichen (purple) and yellow (persimmon and weld) baths at the same time.  I had to be way more obsessive with my pot washing to ensure I did not mix the two colors on my skeins.  I’ve also decide I like running one substrate at a time.  The two type silks and wools work easily in the dye bath but they required different lifting and processing.  That is because I was doing some clean up overdyeing and dyeing some stash busters.  I’ll be more orderly in the future!

Lichen Over dye

This wool was over dyed with my lichen (some leftover 2nd & 3rd exhausts).

The first photo is some easter cedar which was a nice golden beige but I wanted to see what the lichen would do over the beige.

The lower photo is what I got with the lichen over dye. Nice,one really cannot see the yellow beige shining thru the purple lichen.  This is going into my rug planning.



Easter cedar over dyed with lichen

In the meantime, I had some silk that I had degummed Rapenzul from Henry’s Attic and some Habu silk.  They both took the 1st exhaust lichen in a very BRIGHT way!  The raw silk really took on a bubble gum pink which is startling to me.  I’m trying to get use to it but I’m thinking an iron overbath might make it more bearable for me.  Or maybe indigo… is almost time to do the first indigo harvest…..



I tried my fresh weld and got a much fainter yellow on my wools than I got on my silk last year.  So I pulled my dried leaves from last year and cut much more fresh weld and redyed the wools.  Can you see the difference?  Both took on a much deeper yellow.  Still not as bright in comparison to last year’s vibrant yellow on the silk!  These large skeins will be broken down and dipped in indigo to create some greens.


Cold Persimmon Dips with some Vintage varieties!

Next I had my aged persimmon juice, 2011, 2012 and this year’s 2013.  In my search for black I’ve been holding back some of the persimmon as I harvest it and set it aside to age and see if I can come up with a nice black.  I am very happy with the 2011 color.  There was not too much difference between 2012 and 2013 so I think a two year age is best.   It has deepened considerably and I still have set aside to see what another year does to the color.  The other colors I’ll probably over dye with the upcoming indigo harvest!


Top 2011 vintage
Middle 2012 vintage
Bottom 2013 fresh dip


Did 3 dips of 10 minutes with an hour of sun time in between each dip


Before Orvus wash


After Orvus wash

Degumming silk

3 Jul

This morning is dedicated to degumming silk. It is a pleasant morning to listen to the kettle sing and watch the cat in his dream of catching hummingbirds.

I did a cold test of Habu’s Kinari N-63B, explained here:

in oak gall, persimmon and two lichens before I degummed or mordanted the silk. The silk literally sucked in the dye without any treatment. Hmmmmm, something to consider in the future.


After degumming the silk will make its way thru the mordant prep and finally the dye pot! Two skeins will make their way thru the cold process of persimmon dips and sun darkening. The second two will go thru the high alkaline lichen pot. We’ll see how it holds up. I have confidence it will!

Later this afternoon my weld flowers have simmered and are waiting for a wool dip. We’ll see if I simmered enough for 8 ounces of wool!


Picking & Straining

29 Jun

So before temps soar above 100 today I picked & prepped some more dyestuff. The Diospyros Texana Persimmon branches are heavy with the green fruit and is ready to pick.

An item of interest, in the four years I’ve been watching the persimmon bushes I’ve never seen a heavier or thicker crop on the branches. I don’t know if this is the effect of more rain earlier this year compared to the 2009 & 2011 drought years. We’ll see soon how the color comes in on the silk.

In addition I strained some of my Parmotrema Austrosinense Lichen which has been soaking in a high ph bath of ammonia and water.


The lichens gathered in Dec 12 are on the left and the lichens gathered in early fall 2012 are on the right. My paper towel test gives me a decent indication as to what color to expect a dye bath to yield. Do you think it is the 3 month soak difference or the time of year gathered?


Time to wash the dishes & head inside to cool off!

Overdyeing acorn & oak galls with woad on the side!

7 Mar

Test drive today for my shoulder with my husband’s help! I got on his calendar!

Acorn and oak gall to be over-dyed with my Parmotrema Austrosinense lichen. Purple over yellow tones, I’m thinking a brown. Hopefully a nice neutral brown to brighten other colors. We’ll see. There is always the iron afterbath to take it darker.

In the meantime as my hero is learning how to turn wool skeins in the dye pot I am harvesting 2nd year woad to over-dye some last year woad blue that I want a shade darker.



Parmotrema Austrosinense

1 Jan

We have not had significant rain since September 2012 so it was really nice to get the .3 inches of rain for the new year! This moisture made the morning walk gathering lichen much easier as the lichen has rehydrated and has a greenish gray glow against the winter grasses and the wet weather creek bed. We haven’t had enough rain for the creek to run but I can assure you that the lichens are happy.


Over the past dry months we’ve had 3 significant wind events so I’ve gathered the branches against the tree trunks waiting for moisture to make it easier to separate the windfall lichen from the tree branches. I think this will be a good lichen harvest week, until the sun sneaks back out and dries everything out again.

Happy New Year to all!

teloschistes exilis

24 Oct

A quick picture post, more words later.

Below is my dye experiments with teloschistes exilis or slender orange bush lichen. It took over two years to collect 2 ounces of this windfall lichen plus one big damaging wind storm. The substrate is silk. I now know this process works as well on silk as well as wool!

The lichen was soaked for about two months in one part ammonia and 2 part water. An amazing solar photosynthesis happens when you allow the skein to dry slowly in the sun.

If anyone can provide input/resources on the chemical reaction taking place please let me know. For now, I am enjoying the color! Of course if I want to keep the pink I would allow the skein to dry in the shade.

See the time lapse below for the transformation from pink to blue.





This final photo show the two original skeins, the one on the left was rinsed with vinegar, in other words I took the ph down. The one on the right was the one which went to blue under the sun!

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