Golden Gills

What luck to stumble upon this cluster of noble Gymnopilus ventricosus in the middle of May on a bright and sunny day! Spring this year (2020) consisted of several cycles of intense rain followed by intense heat uncharacteristic for the Bay Area. I had seen a few out-of-season fungal flushes earlier in April, including a… Continue reading Golden Gills

Colorful Coral Mushrooms

Most fungal dyes are relatively consistent in their results, but one genus' color is nothing short of elusive: Ramaria spp. Many characteristics of the coral mushrooms paint them as nature's tricksters: they are notoriously challenging to identify because they can shift color over the course of their maturation, and their manifold branching can leave more… Continue reading Colorful Coral Mushrooms

Get an (Ompha)lotus that purple!

An abundant mushroom, the Western Jack O'Lantern (Omphalotus olivascens) and its cousins are often mistaken by amateur mycologists for the much more edible and desirable chanterelle. In addition to delivering a nasty stomach ache to the unwary, some report that Omphalotus harbors a delightful surprise ability to glow in the dark. Much like the trickster symbol… Continue reading Get an (Ompha)lotus that purple!

A Chemistry Lesson

It's one thing to see a surprising dye color emerge straight from its plant/fungal source such as the pink hiding inside avocados, but it's another entirely to observe a pale, barely-there color turn vivid with the addition of another solute. A little bit of chemistry and patience can take a small dye palette and expand… Continue reading A Chemistry Lesson

Adventures in Avocado

Oh, the delight I feel when I show off my avocado yarn! Peoples' eyes go wide with disbelief when they hear of the color's source. One of nature's little surprises, these green-brown drupes will render a range of colorfast pinks to fibers of all kinds. Avocados make an excellent beginner's natural dye. The material is… Continue reading Adventures in Avocado

Phabulous Phaeolus Fungi

A great introduction to natural dyeing, the Dyer's Polypore (Phaeolus schweinitzii) is a forgiving and plentiful dyestuff. A single specimen is usually more than enough to dye 200g of wool (not including multiple rounds of dye bath exhaustion), and the pigment sticks readily to wool fibers without a mordant. It is simple enough to identify, and… Continue reading Phabulous Phaeolus Fungi