My first post in this blog was the selection of an image of yellow lichen on rocks, and I mentioned at the time that lichen can be used for dyeing and that I should investigate this further. I haven't used lichen in my dye experiments yet, as I have read a few things that have dissuaded me.
Cardon dedicates a whole chapter in Natural Dyes to lichens, but opens the chapter with the following warning:
"Lichens are not cultivated and most species grow very slowly...the history of the use of lichens by humankind presents repeated examples of over-exploitation of sites, even to the brink of extinction" (2007, 489)
This is backed up by Allen in Fungi Magazine:
Because lichens take so long to grow and may not regenerate, scraping trees and stones is highly discouraged (Allen, 2014)
Seeing as there are other materials I can find and buy that produce the colours I need for my current work, I do not need to source materials that could potentially be endangered. As I am at the beginning of my knowledge on this topic, I'm not that good at identifying plants, let alone lichen types, so I will leave that for another time!
Lichen may be something I investigate in the future, along with the use of fungi. I have a mycologist friend who I would like to work with, identifying the various mushrooms than can be used to create some extraordinary colours. Grierson has a concise guide to the various types of lichen that can be used for dyeing in The Colour Cauldron (1986).
- Allen, A. (2014) 'Getting Started with Lichen Dyes'. Fungi. [Online]. 7, (2): 66-69. Available from: http://www.fungimag.com/summer-2014-articles/LR2%20V7I2%2066-69%20Dies.pdf [Accessed 8 December 2017].
- Burns, R. (2017) Islay Lichen. (Own Collection)
- Cardon, D. (2007) Natural Dyes. London: Archetype.
- Grierson, S. (1986) The Colour Cauldron. Perth: Mill Books.