Lichen

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)
 Burns, R. (2017)  Islay Lichen.  (Own Collection)

Burns, R. (2017) Islay Lichen. (Own Collection)

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).

 

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