Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It’s All About Color

All of these beautiful colors came from mushrooms. Students from all over the world gathered at 13th International Fungi & Fibre Symposium and exchanged samples of the yarn they dyed last week at the Mendocino Art Center, California. (Click on the highlighted text for more information about the Symposium.)

Beautiful silk scarves dyed with mushrooms were on display. These lovely ones were created by Julie Schleuder. Some of them looked like resist dyeing to me.

The pink is from Cortinarius Semisanguineus, the lavender from Hapalopilus Nidulans, the brown from Phaeolus Schweinitzii, and the gray from Hydnellum Peckii. (You will have to excuse my shaky spelling of these names, I am not a mycologist.)
This cute knitted hat was made by Marilyn Caddell from Scotland. The artist noted that the purple yarn was dyed with Hapalopilus Nidulans with alum mordant. Don’t you love the little mushrooms marching around the band?
There was a class busy making felted bowls from wool roving blended with mushroom dyed roving. The class was working very hard when I stopped by and the results were intriguing.
Here is a cute troll guarding some mushrooms.
The mushrooms were made by felting and so was the troll.

If you expected mushrooms to produce only browns, beiges, and earth tones, the displays showed the wide range of colors extracted from fungi. This striped weaving gives an idea of the range.

A beautiful afghan made with mushroom dyed yarn was presented to the founder of the mushrooms for color movement, Miriam C. Rice, at the banquet Friday night.
It was also a celebration of Miriam’s 90th birthday.

Miriam’s granddaughter, on the left, is a videographer. She covered the Symposium and interviewed participants.
Dorothy Beebee, illustrator extraordinaire, has been exploring mushroom dyes with Miriam since 1974. She illustrated Miriam’s newest book, Mushrooms for Dyes, Paper, Pigments & Myco-Stix™. The book was just published in December by Mushrooms for Color Press, Forestville, CA 95436. (Click on the highlighted text for purchase information.)
Once upon a time, long, long ago Miriam Rice dropped a skein of mordanted yarn into a cooking pot of mushrooms she was going to throw out. She pulled out the skein and saw it had turned an outstanding, bright yellow. She experimented with all sorts of mushrooms for a couple of years and found a new world of color.

Someone told Miriam about a little fiber art book publisher called Thresh Publications in Santa Rosa, CA. Miriam’s colorful yarns made their way to the little publisher and she was told to go home and write a book. She did.

Robert and I thought there might be some interest in this new branch of natural dyeing. We knew an illustrator, Dorothy Beebee, so we asked her to draw ONE mushroom for the cover of a little book called Let’s Try Mushrooms for Color. In 1974 that little book was published.

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Blogger Del said...

What a lovely story and what an inspiration Miriam is. Thresh Publications gave a gift to the world, didn't they? Thanks for sharing.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Tanya Brown said...

That story had a nice arc to it. Now I understand the connection between fungi and fibers a bit better. Your images were fascinating; I kept mentally saying "oh, wow" as I went through them.

9:37 PM  
Blogger atet said...

I never would have believed the range of color available with mushrooms if I hadn't seen it. Thanks for the wonderful post and for the great story. It's fantastic!

12:23 AM  
Blogger QuiltingFitzy said...

I have some idea this isn't "The end of the story!"

The colors are amazing!

4:13 AM  
Blogger sophie said...

Great photos and a nice story. When I first started dyeing (straw for hats, when I lived in Oakland), I explored natural plant dyeing and heard about a woman in Mendocino who taught workshops on dyeing with mushrooms, Reading your story, I'm kicking myself for not finding my way into one of those workshops then . . . now, I'm 2500 miles further away.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Jeanne Turner McBrayer said...

I am awed by the range of colors produced by the mushroom dyes.

Now please assure me that isn't mushroom wine at the banquet!!!

6:01 AM  
Blogger Christine Thresh said...


That goblet held Miriam's orange juice, but fine local wines were served at the banquet.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Very interesting process. I had never heard of mushroom dying before. The colors are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Gisela Towner said...

What beautiful colors! The book just moved to the top of my wish list.
I had no idea...

8:59 AM  
Blogger meggie said...

What a fabulous story! Is the publishing business yours & Robert's?
What a surprise to find how many beautiful colours come from mushrooms! Who knew they were hiding there, in the humble funghi.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Christine Thresh said...

We published fiber art books in the 1970s. It was lots of fun.
Nowadays I just quilt and publish quilting patterns.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Wow, how interesting! I never knew that mushrooms could be used for dying.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Gerrie said...

I love those mushroom colors. I need to get my hands on some. And what a great story.

6:33 PM  
Blogger k baxter packwood said...

It's nice to see what Miriam looks like~! And Dorothy as well. My PhD studies are in Mycology and Textile Science, at Iowa State, my area being the dye lichens and mushrooms. I would have loved to have made it to the symposium but alas time and money were a big factor this time.


7:13 PM  
Blogger jpsam said...

What a great post! Something for everyone: Color, knitting, felting, dyeing, publishing, fungi...whodathunkit?

7:57 PM  
Blogger sophie said...

Ps. I enjoy your blog so much that I'm passing on this award.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Dolores said...

Thank you for sharing. Great pictures. Love the felted mushrooms.
My daughter use to be obsessed with mushrooms and had to photograph every one she saw. Hoping our yard will fill up again so I can experiment more with dyeing cloth.

Love your blog!

8:20 AM  

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