Absolute Jeanius


Dyeing with Lichen March 10, 2011

Filed under: dyeing — jeanius80 @ 1:39 pm

This Summer, the husband and dad decided to cut down a tree that had seen it’s last Spring.


The tree was a fantastic shade tree with three central trunks that gave the appearance of a nice seat. Unfortunatly, it didn’t return healthy this Spring, so it needed to go. The tree was very tall, probably 30 feet at least. I collect as much of the lichen as I could find as then cut it down and sawed the limbs up.


I weighed it prior to soaking it. I had collected just 20 grams.

I did some research online, and was dismayed to find very little information. I decided to do an ammonia and water soak. I poured 2 cups of ammonia and 1 cup of cool water into a bottle. I then added the lichen. After closing it up again, I gave it a good shake. I continued to give a shake everyday for a few weeks. TYhis served to airate the liquid, and make sure the lichen was well soaked.


I figured the dye was ready when I no longer noticed much change in the color of the liquid. I soaked 15 grams of sock yarn in water that had alum (a mordant) mixed in. I let it soak over night:


yarn, alum soak


The next step was th pour the dye into a non-reactive container ( I used a plastic bowl) and to strain out the lichen:


lichen, strained out from dye bath


I added the yarn and a generous ‘glug’ of vinegar to acidify the dye bath:


lichen dye bath


I let the skein soak for about an hour, and it had pretty much reached it’s final color, though I decided to make sure, by putting the dye bath and ayrn into the crock pot to add heat. I fiured it couldn’t hurt, and may well help set the dye better:


first soak in lichen dye bath heat setting the lichen dye


I let the pot heat completly, then turned it off and let it cool over night. It did appear to have gotten darker, but after the first cool rinse, it lightened back up:


lichen yarn, prerinsing rinsing lichen yarn


The final color is a very soft mauve. It would be great to learn a bit more and purhaps be able to get a much more intense color from thelichen. I wonder if cooking down the liquid and then using it would be beneficial? Anyhow, here is a shot of the final yarn, destiny unknown:


lichen dyed yarn


One Response to “Dyeing with Lichen”

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