Every year I seem to be in London when the mushroom season is at it’s peak in Finland, There is a rainbow of colours to dye with in the fungi family and I love foraging them for food as well. When I visited home last month I was gifted some cortinarius semisanguineus and cortinarius sanguineus mushrooms, a small sample of each, but enough for some dye experiments
When I got back to London, I weighed the mushrooms. I had 5 grams of cortinarius sanguineus and 4.5 grams of cortinarius semisanguineus. This might seem like a small amount, but the colours go quite far.
I started my dyeing with cortinarious sanguineus. I soaked the dry mushrooms for about half an hour, the liquid immediatly went brigth red and afterwards I simmered them for another half an hour. I measured the PH of the water which was 5, a more acid PH than my usual dye baths. The recommended ratio of dyeing with these mushrooms is 1:3 so 5 grams should dye 15 grams of fibre. I had a 20 gram skein of Merino/Nylon as well a silk sample ready (both premordanted with alum) and a small snippet of unmordanted shetland roving so decided try dyeing these. The dye liquid was a strong red, but shifted to a more orange after I added my fibres. I used an aluminium pan although I normally dye in a stainless steel pot. I left the fibres to simmer for an hour and then to cool in the dye bath.
These two mushroom varieties can give you several dye baths. I dyed a small secone bath with 10 grams of bfl/bamboo, silk sample (both premordanted with alum) and a tiny piece of unmordated shetland roving. Afterwards I kept the mushrooms, but discarded the small amount of liquid I had left.
I then moved onto my cortinarius semisanguineus caps (separating the caps from the stalks yields different colours). The recommended ratio of mushrooms to fibre is 2:3 so I dyed a 10 gram skein of alum premordanted merino/nylon, silk and a snippet of unmordanted shetland roving. I measured the PH of they dye bath which was 7. The fibres were dyed as before and I managed to get a second bath from these mushrooms as well.
These mushrooms are truly magical and I feel so lucky to have these gifted to me. I’m hoping one year to be home around the time they start popping up from the ground.
There was a little bit of colour left in the dye bath so I’ve combined the mushrooms together and am attempting to make some watercolours out of them. Fingers crossed it works!