Natural dyeing: surprise webcaps (cortinarius semisanguineus)

I did some mushroom dyeing with surprise webcap caps this week. I was very surprised (no bun intended) by them. I was expecting darker more orange toned autumn colours. According to Leena at the Riihivilla younger mushrooms have more orange colours and older mushrooms have more red colours, but that the colours can differ a lot depending on where they have grown etc. Also a funny thing is that the caps have red colour and the stems yellow colour so you can have two different colours from them! This time I only used the caps.

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Six years ago I actually collected the mushrooms myself and got lovely orange colour with wool yarn. You can read that post here.  Keep in mind that these mushrooms are poisonous, not edible! This time I used some mushrooms I bought from Riihivilla online shop a year ago. Maybe the age has something to do with these pinks? Or the tara powder I used to mordant my cotton? I really don’t know.

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I alway, always have different pots and utensils for dyeing and cooking, but especially for these mushrooms! I added the mushrooms at the bottom of the pot and added a little pit of water, not full. I let the mushrooms simmer for an hour (about 80-90 degrees celsius). Then I sifted the mushrooms away and added more water to the dye. 

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I put the mushrooms inside old pantyhose, so I could put them in the dye bath with the fabric. I mordanted my cotton sheet with tara powder and alum. The post I wrote about it is here.  

I simmered the fabric in the dye bath for about two hours in 80-90 degrees celsius (I don’t measure temperatures so much these day). I let the fabric cool in the pot and then rinsed the fabric. I read afterwards that its good to add some vinegar to the rinsing water when dyeing with these mushrooms so the colour will last better.

I used some iron modifier to some of the fabrics and they turned violet! The beige one is from when I dyed a new fabric in the same dye bath, it came out light pink and when I added it in iron water it turned beige. Such different results!

I “made” the iron water by putting some rusty screws in a glass jar with water and vinegar. I have also done some rust dyeing experiments so I used the rinsing water from them.

I also did some shibori spiral experiments.

The swirl worked fine, but I really need to use a thinner fabric when making this kind of folded shibori. I might just keep adding some other dye experiment on it. All and all dyeing with surprise webcaps was very interesting and not at all what I expected. But that’s the nature of natural dyes. You never know what you get!

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