The Fungus Edit

Parmelia sulcata - Lindsey

Parmelia saxatilis is a lichen found throughout much of North America. It forms flat, crusty mats on a variety of surfaces, including trees, rocks, and wooden structures. This lichen is grayish-green in color and will result in a variety of orangy yellows and buff colors. [1]

800px-Roccella fuciformis

Orchil lichen or Roccella tinctoria is a lichen found in Canada and in the United States around the Great Lakes and mountainous regions. It usually grows on moist rocks near water. When dry, this lichen is stiff with a velvety upper surface. Orchil produces pinks and fuschias. [1]

How to Harvest Edit

Lichen is most easily harvested when wet. Use a knife to lift pieces of lichen from the wood. Then spread out the pieces of lichen to dry. Once dry, the lichen can be stored almost indefinitely. [1]

LIchen should never be picked from living trees. It should only be collected from fallen branches. Lichen can take up to 100 years to mature and are important to ecosystem wellness.[2]

How to Extract Color Edit

Parmelia should be crushed and soaked overnight in cold water. The next day, simmer at 85 degrees Celsius for at least an hour. Strain the dyebath into a clean container and add wetted fiber to the clean dyepot. Simmer for another hour at 85 degrees Celsius. This is the ideal temperature. 200% WOG will produce rich oranges. Lesser percentages give less interesting tans. Colors tend not to be lightfast.[1]

Orchil requires planning. Crumble the lichen and place it in a glass jar with 1 cup ammonia and 2 cups water. Stir, then cover the jar to keep the fumes inside. Leave in a safe, warm place for at least 10 days. Twice per day, stir vigorously to mix the solution. Waiting another two weeks will extract even more color. It shouldn't go bad, even if left for a few months. When you are ready to dye, strain the dye liquid into a clean container. If you save the lichen, you can reuse it with fresh ammonia and water to extract more color. Once you are ready to dye, add the required amount of liquid to a dyepot full of water and add wet fiber. WOG is figured from the weight of the ammonia solution, not your original dyestuff. [1]

While some sources suggest pre-mordanting is necessary to obtain colorfast results [1], most other sources explain that a mordant isn't necessary, but can increase fastness of the dye and amend the color. [3]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Stralen, T. V. (1995). Indigo, madder and marigold: A portfolio of colors from natural dyes. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press.
  2. Duerr, S. (2010). The handbook of natural plant dyes: Personalize your craft with organic colors from acorns, blackberries, coffee, and other everyday ingredients. Portland, Or.: Timber Press.
  3. Bolton, E. M., & Bolton Holloway, J. (n.d.). LichenDyeing. Retrieved June 15, 2016, from