Nedfalds-lav

Nedfalds-lav er perfekt til naturfarvning, det gør nemlig ingen skade at samle det nedfaldne lav op – det kan alligevel ikke gro videre. Tue-grenlav er en af de almindelige arter, som også er let at genkende.

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Når jeg går tur på blæsende regnvejrsdage finder jeg tit masser af lav, der ligger spredt på jorden under træer. Lav, som vinden har flået af grenene. Efter en god storm har jeg nogle gange fyldt alle mine lommer plus tilfældige skraldeposer med sådan noget nedfalds-lav. Det skønneste nedfald, med den fantastiske duft som kun lav har.

Indsamling af nedfalds-lav gør ingen skade, for lav-totter, der er flået ned kan alligevel ikke vokse videre. Så det er den bedste (nogle vil sige den eneste) måde at finde lav til farvning. Når jeg kommer hjem med sådan en skat plejer jeg at sprede lavet ud på en bakke til tørring (så det ikke bliver muggent).

Nedfalds-lav tørrer. Det ser ud til at være et stort stykke Evernia pruniastri til venstre, til højre Ramalina fastigiata for oven og formodentligt en art Parmelia for neden.

Før man kan farve med nedfaldslavet, er det nødvendigt at sortere det og bestemme arterne. Med nogle arter skal man nemlig bruge en simpel kogning i vand (BWM), mens andre skal trække i ammoniak:

Kogning i vand er selvfølgelig det letteste. Lavet simres i vand og køler af. Garn tilsættes til dette farvebad, og opvarmes en timestid uden at koge.

Ammoniakmetoden er noget mere besværlig. Lavet trækker i 1% ammoniak (oprindeligt brugte man gammel urin) i flere uger eller måneder. Glasset rystes og åbnes dagligt for at ilte væsken. Den røde væske bruges til sidst som farvebad.

I begge metoder er det unødvendigt at bejdse garnet, da lavets farver er substantive (de kan altså binde direkte til uldfiberen uden bejdsning).

Lav, der trækker i 1% ammoniak.

For at kunne artsbestemme lav købte jeg for nylig Frank S. Dobsons bog “Lichens, An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species”. Den indeholder en god introduktion til lav, og en detaljeret bestemmelsesnøgle med beskrivelser og fotografier.

Med Dobson i hånden har jeg tænkt mig at kigge lidt nærere på de slags lav, der typisk falder ned fra træerne heromkring. Altså, hvordan man genkender dem, hvilken farvemetode der skal bruges, og hvilke farver det giver.

Jeg begynder her med den slags lav, der måske er allerlettest at genkende, og også meget almindelig: Ramalina fastigiata, eller tue-grenlav. Den falder tit ned i større totter, som er helt dækket af udvækster, der ligner små sugekopper. Det er apothecier, som er lavets frugtlegemer. De laver kønnede sporer, som kun indeholder lavets svampedel. Når de spreder sig og spirer et nyt sted skal de mødes med en ny alge for at blive til et nyt lav-individ. Men alt det behøver farveren strengt taget ikke at bekymre sig om, bare man kan genkende apothecierne.

Et stykke Ramalina fastigiata, som er helt dækket af apothecier. Sådan nogle totter kan være op til ca. 5 cm.

I “Lichen Dyes, The New Source Book”opfører Karen D. Casselman Ramalina-arterne på listen over laver, hvor man skal bruge ammoniakmetoden.

Jeg har tidligere afprøvet denne metode med Ramalina fastigiata, og fik en lys rosa farve (billeder her).

Men Ramalina-arterne står faktisk også på listen over de arter, hvor man kan bruge den simple varmtvandsmetode. Derfor afprøvede jeg den simple metode med lige mængder Ramalina fastigiata og garn, men det gav absolut ingen farve (ingen billeder!). Konklusionen er, at Ramalina fastigiata hører strengt til ammoniak-arterne.

Jars of Lichens

Lichen dyeing is a slow discipline – the slowness only surpassed by the pace that the lichens themselves grow at…

I started two jars of lichens late in February, one with Evernia prunastri (left) and one with Ramalina fastigiata – at least, I’m fairly sure that’s what it is (right).

lichens

It’s important to mention how I gathered these lichens: the Ramalina fastigiata is all windfall from a single tree that used to grow in the playground near our house. Every time I walked under it, I found at least one bit of fallen lichen, and often, I filled both pockets. But then, the other day, I walked by only to find that the tree had been cut down! Along with every other tree nearby!! I hope some city planners somewhere are hanging their heads in shame. That place is not fit for humans anymore. Or any other species for that matter.

Most of the Evernia prunastri is also windfall, but some was picked during trips to several different forest where it grows so thick that most trees are completely covered with it, and in that case, picking off small bits is OK.

Evernia prunastri, also known as oakmoss, ragged hoary lichen, and stag’s horn lichen, is a well known dye lichen, and is also a component of many perfumes (makes sense, its scent is wonderful, but that’s the case with all lichens I’ve met up close). I put 25 g of this in one jar.

Ramalina fastigiata is not specifically mentioned in the lichen chapter of “Vegetable Dyes” by Ethel M. Mairet, a remarkably useful book from 1916 that you can read for free at the Gutenberg project. Nor does “Lichen Dyes, The New Source Book” by Karen Diadick Casselman, but both books mention unspecified/other Ramalina species as sources of red/pink using the ammonia method (and Casselman also indicates that yellow can be obtained with boiling water method). I put 20 g of Ramalina fastigiata in a jar.

After adding lichen to a jar, it should be filled with 1% ammonia so it covers. I buy the ordinary kind at a supermarket. It is 8%, so I simply make a diltion to 1%.

And then comes the tedious part!

Let the lichens steep in ammonia for weeks and weeks, take the caps off every day to let in air, and shake the jars well and often to ensure aeration. Casselman warns again and again that the color will not develop properly without good aeration.

I was diligent in my vat-shaking until early April, at which point I decided to try out the dyes.

From each jar, I took the amount of liquid that is equivalent to 5 g of lichen. From the Ramalina jar, which had 2o g of lichen, that was 1/4 of the liquid or about 100 ml. From the Evernia jar that contained 25 g of lichen, 1/5 of the liquid.

I diluted them to cover the yarn and placed them in a double boiler system with glass jars inside a pot of water. I remember reading about this somewhere, but I don’t remember who the brilliant person is…

But it’s very clever for these small dye baths AND also very good because the pH is above 10 even after dilution, so you have to heat very gently to not damage the wool:

doubleboiler

I gently heated the pot for about an hour, then took out the skeins of wool instead of leaving them in the dye bath until next day as I usually do. I did it differently because I thought the high pH over so many hours would ruin the wool.

This first dyeing attempt gave a couple of skeins of medium pink shades that are quite pleasing, I think! The Evernia-dyed skein (on top) has a slightly browner tone of pink than the Ramalina-dyed one (bottom) which is truly baby pink

lichenwoolapril

After that, I let the jars continue until late June, but I’m afraid the vat-shaking was much less diligent!

But on June 21st, I decided to finish the experiment.

I filtered the rest of the liquid in each jar, then measured the pH, it was 10-11 (as expected). I split the dye liquid from each jar in two, left one of them as it was, and neutralized the other one. I used about 1 part 37% acetic acid to 5-8 parts dye. This is just what we happened to have in the house, HCl would work too. If you want to try this at home, wear goggles and lock children and pets in another room.

Then I used the same double boiler setup as first time, taking out the wool at high pH after an hour, and leaving the skeins in neutral jars until the next day. And the result:

lichenwooljune

From right to left, it’s:

1: The Evernia-dyed skein from April

2: The Ramalina-dyed ditto

3: Evernia high pH, June

4: Ramalina high pH, June

5: Evernia neutral pH, June

6: Ramalina neutral pH, June

So actually skeins 3 and 4 are just a repeat of 1 and 2 but a couple of months later. I’m really not sure why the color was better in April than in June. Because I stopped shaking the jars as much? Or does it influence the result that I used alun mordanted skeins in April but unmordanted wool in June? It shouldn’t, since lichen dyes are substantial, but one never knows.

The neutralized dye baths yielded more color, but the color is towards tan tones rather than a real pink. Nice colors, but I’ve gotten similar colors from avocado with less effort!

FACTS – LICHENS, AMMONIA METHOD

Mordant 10% alun on some skeins, none on the others (it’s what I had around)

Water Tap

Yarn Supersoft 575 m/100 g

Yarn:Dyestuff ratio 2:1 and similar ratios

Conclusion Lovely baby pink plus more saturated orange-pinks

Possible improvements I’d like to get more intense color with this method, and I imagine using more lichen could do the trick. But the shaking of the jars is probably just important to optimize!

 

All in all, I’m pleased with my first results using these types of lichens and the ammonia method. But I do think there is a lot of room for improvement. I’ll probably start some new jars soon!

Tilbage i februar startede jeg krukker med to slags lav, Evernia prunastri og Ramalina fastigiata i 1% ammoniak. Jeg har virkelig gjort mit bedste for at ryste dem og tage låget af lidt tid hver dag, for at der skulle komme rigeligt ilt til, så farverne kunne udvikle sig.

Det gjorde jeg i hvert fald til og med april, hvor jeg farvede de to første testnøgler, og fik fine pink farver. Fra april til juni glemte jeg nok lidt krukkerne… Så i juni besluttede jeg mig for at afslutte eksperimentet. Jeg neutraliserede halvdelen af farven med koncentreret eddikesyre, og det gav pink toner ovre i det orange.

Jeg tror bestemt ikke, det er sidste gang jeg forsøger mig med disse typer lav. Faktisk lader jeg aldrig lav ligge på jorden når jeg finder det på mine gåture, så jeg har et lager til at sætte de næste eksperimenter i gang snarest!

 

 

 

 

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Avocado, Meet Blender

Remember these jars?

fermentation

They had been fermenting for over a week, and the color of the liquid didn’t change over the last days, so I decided it was time to try them.

The front jar contains the pit and peel from 1 avocado and 1 Tsp salt, the other one the same with the addition of 1 Tsp ammonia. I combined the pit and peel in one dye bath because my earlier attempts didn’t yield different colors with them separated. And this time I blended the pit and peel, carefully and a bit at a time to not destroy the blender.

The much deeper red in the ammonia jar does translate into more color, a reddish brown, on the yarn (in front) than the jar without ammonia (in the back) which just gave the standard beige. Again beige.

avoskeins

No pink this time, maybe because I didn’t heat the avocado before fermentation?

FACTS – AVOCADO PEELS + PITS, BLENDED

Mordant 10% alun

Water Tap

Yarn Supersoft 575 m/100 g

Yarn:Dyestuff ratio 10 g yarn to one avocado

Conclusion Ammonia extracts more color

Possible improvements Boil before fermentation to get pink. Filter out blended avocado before dyeing

At this point, I think it’s fair to say that I have tried a lot of combinations with avocado fermentation of avocado pits, of the peels, and now blending them together and fermenting them with and without ammonia. I’ve achieved a range of colors from beige over pink into brown.

So I do think this concludes my experimentation with this for now. The only thing that remains to be seen is how light and wash fast this is over a longer time.

Dette er det – måske – sidste forsøg med avocado, for nu i hvert fald. Denne gang har jeg blendet skal og sten af avocado sammen og prøvet at fermentere dem i en uge med eller uden ammoniak. Sidstnævnte gav den kraftigste farve i glasset og også på ulden. Men ingen pink denne gang, kun beige og brun.

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The Faintest Pink

Once your eye adapts to spotting lichens, there is one in particular that beckons to you from just about everywhere – bright yellow Xanthoria parietina, growing on stones, fences, and branches.

It’s even in my holiday snapshots from last year, taken at Dybbøl, where the Germans beat the Danish army back to the stone age in 1864. Xanthoria parietina is the yellow splotches on these big boulders my daughter is posing on:

dybboel

And here is a branch with the lichen up close:

xathoria

The color of the lichen can actually vary quite a bit. The Wikipedia entry says that the deep yellow color is caused by the pigment parietin, which has a biosynthesis that is light dependent because parietin is actually the lichen’s UV protection. I have indeed often seen intesting lichens growing in the shade, and stepped closer just to find that it was actually a green-grey version of Xanthoria parietina.

The yellow parietin reacts with KOH to give red, one of the standard test one can make when typing lichens. I don’t know the exact chemistry, but I am guessing the same should happen when you steep it in ammonia?

Parietin, Wikipedia informs us, is also found in the roots of curled dock (Rumex crispus, kruset skræppe in Danish). Jenny Dean lists the roots of curled dock, dock, and sorrel as sources of reddish browns, but I’m not sure if that has anything to do with its parietin content.

But back to Xanthoria parietina. Irish lichens (one of my favorite web sources on lichens) tells us that it is a very pollution-resistant lichen. It seems to be spreading, and is even considered invasive by some people, so this one is fine to gather whenever you find it.

I have kept a jar of Xanthoria parietina since November 15th last year. It contained 42 g of lichen in ammonia (I buy the ordinary one at a supermarket and dilute it to 1%).

I try to remember to shake my jars of lichens. The book I read on the topic, Karen Casselman’s “Lichen Dyes, The New Source Book” returns to the point several times: “Aeration is important”, “Vats ignored […] may not develop properly” and so on.

But in real life, of course, it’s hard to remember. It only takes moments to take the lid off, replace it, and shake the jar, but like flossing and taking vitamins, initial determination can quickly wear off. Some weeks I may have shaken this jar every day, but at least half of the time, it’s just been on its own.

The dyeing process, on the other hand, is easy. Just pour the liquid into the pot and dye the yarn in it over gentle heat. My 10 g test skein came out a faint, but pretty, pink:

xanthoriaskein

and this is actually the best color that I have achieved with Xanthoria parietina. I think it’s a pretty color, although you are actually supposed to turn it blue by exposing the wet skein to sunlight. I tried that with a similar skein, but the blue tone it turned into was so faint that it was white that just felt a bit blue… My guess is that the initial pink should be very strong in order to get a good blue – this is also based on the photos that mycopigments posted here.

I suspect that the shift to faint blue will eventually happen if the yarn is exposed to sun at all (photo-oxidation). Red2white shows a series of light tests here, and in addition to color loss, there is also a change towards blue. But faint and possibly also quite fugitive – good blue can only come from indigo!

In conclusion, the dye from Xanthoria parietina is fun to play with, but not lightfast. I still find myself planning out more experiments, so next time I pass a yellow branch, something will go into my pocket (for a lovely day of acetone extraction perhaps?)

FACTS – Xanthoria parietina

Mordant 10% alun*

Water Tap

Yarn Supersoft 575 m/100 g

Yarn:Dyestuff ratio 1:4

Conclusion The color is pretty, but faint. And it is not lightfast

Possible improvements More diligent vat-shaking – more efficient aeration should develop the dye better. And maybe ripping the lichen into smaller pieces will also help extraction? According to Casselman, lightfastness improves if the yarn is dried before the dye is rinsed out

*Alun mordanting should not be necessary when working with lichen dyes, as they are substantive = able to bond to animal fibers by themselves. But I just had some mordanted skeins on hand, and it doesn’t interfere, either.

Lav-arten Xanthoria parietina bør, efter extraction i ammoniak, give en pink farve som skifter til blå i direkte sol. Jeg har prøvet at få denne blå frem tidligere, uden held. Denne gang har jeg ladet garnet tørre uden sol og fået en svag fin lyserød farve.