Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Lichen Update; playing with photooxidation

{i just love the definition for photooxidation: Oxidation under the influence of radiant energy (as) light}

I've got quite a few (12) lichen jars going.
I check on them daily and give them a good shake when I remember. 
They are my babies.
Collecting just the right kind of lichens that will produce bright and bold colors has been a tricky and fasinating road for me. 

Foraging from Califonia to Ireland has been a wonderful journey for me into the world of lichens. 
Here are tiny samples I set up to see if any would ferment into colorful dyes. 

5 minutes after set up. 

{pretend your looking at a 2nd picture} 
after a few weeks, the middle lichen jar has turned a deep red. 

Today I used my jar from July 7th 2013 of about a tablespoon of Xanthoria that I collected from a granite stone on the Eastern Promenade.
It fermented it with 1 part ammonia to 2 parts water for 8 months before today. 
Of course it seems like a very long time. But once a lichen jar is set up, I just go on living my life (as I check it evey day for fun). 

I started with only 1/2 cup liquid lichen dye and added 6 cups water which was enough to cover the yarn. I let it cook away for awhile. I did neglet the pot for a little bit and it was boiling when I checked on it but everything was fine. The yarn is still as soft as can be. 

It did take quite a while longer for the color to really sink into the fiber. 
I babied it though and let it do its thing.

Some natural/plant dyes only need about an hour or so to let the color absorb. 
But sometimes, a plant needs a bit longer to reach its full potential. 
And I think it's important not to rush this process. 

{if you haven't heard yet about this lichen and the crazy it does~ here's why this lichen is special}
Xanthoria lichen has a special UV type of sunscreen acid inside. It's like something protecting it from its self- or something like that. 
So- when this dye is exposed to sunlight, the color goes from pinky to purply to blue grey. 

At the end of the day, I hung the yarn over the pot and let it dry over night.
I was surprised to see these purple splotches beacuse it wasn't drying outside where the UV rays were hitting it. However- it only had a few of these spots all the rest was pink. 

{the green yarn is from the carror tops I was doing at the same time in the next pot. I just like these colors together. Don't you?!} 
This is the yarn before I took it outside.
It was almost dry with only a few purply blue spots. 

I then tried another experiment and put it back in the pot just to get it wet.
Then i brought it outside to dry in the sun. 
Sure enough, pink to purple to blue. 

This process here, of the first pink color changing to purple and blue is called
I included a link here but it's more interesting than it is directly related to this lichen. As I find it in my notes again, I'll add it another time. 
I also dyed a vintage silk hankerchief avaible in my shop!

in these pictures, it shows, the lichen, dye, and items dyes:)
And I had a little helper with the lighting. 
This summer, in June, I'll be attending a week long lichen ecology study at the Eagel Hill Institute in Stuben Maine. 
I really look forward to learning more about lichens so I can apply appropriate standards for collecting. 

I will also be teaching a really fun and informative workshop focusing on lichen collecting principles, and how to set up your jars- here at the Maine Fiber Frolic. 
You can sign up for my workshop Lichen Magic through their website. 

I'm also teaching two other plant dye workshops at the Frolic; 
Foraging for Color
Rainbows in my Dye Pot.

If you've dyed with lichens or have been curious where to start, I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

ox, Rachel

1 comment:

Alissa said...

Beautiful! I just love this lichen magic!!