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Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book [Paperback]

Karen Diadick Casselman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 13.50
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Book Description

Oct. 5 2011
Noted textile designer and lichen expert explains how to create and use dyes derived from lichens. Text covers history of the use of lichen pigments, safe dyeing methods, ecologically sound dyeing, and use of mordants, lichen identification, and more. Text also offers a fascinating history of Asian and European lichen pigments, Scottish, Irish, and Scandinavian domestic lichen dyes, and others.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good guide, but not for complete beginners March 21 2004
Format:Paperback
This is a decent guide to dying with lichens. It is a very condensed presentation of the author's academic and practical research on the topic over many years. In terms of topics considered, the book is quite varied. It begins with a preface on ethical collecting of lichens. Next comes 10 common questions about dying with lichens covering such topics as "Will lichen dyes fade?", "How many lichens does it take to dye something?", and "How can I avoid collecting rare lichens by mistake?". Following this are short chapters on the history of lichen dyes in Asian, European, and American cultures. Then there is a very practical chapter describing in detail methods and recipes for lichen dyes, together with a list of common lichens used for dyes, grouped by dye method, and specifying final colors that can be achieved. One of the author's pet topics is ecodyeing, and she has developed techniques for dying that are less harmful to the environment than traditional methods, and she devotes a chapter to describing some of her alternatives. The last full chapter covers ethics of lichen dying and lichen identification. The book ends with a 15 page annotated bibliography. There is also an index. The only photographs in the book are the ones printed inside the front and back covers.
Overall, I found this book to be clear and very well researched. I'm quite fond of lichens, but I have no background in the dyeing field. The author seems to forget how little some of her readers, such as myself, may know about natural dyes. She uses words like "mordant" without definition. Certainly, if you are already an experienced dyer, such words and their corresponding concepts will already be familiar to you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Star here for lichen dye Feb. 16 2014
By Raven
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
More of a meta-study with recipes, than a guide, this book covers the history and modern methods of dyeing with lichens. The author constantly cites her references, and boy does she have a lot of references. This is the perfect book for someone just beginning an in depth academic study, or the textile hobbyist interested in making pretty colours.

My most favourite thing about this book is that the author advocates selvage botany. That is she discourages people from harvesting huge amounts in a non-sustainable way, but rather encourages you to pick up blow-down pieces of lichen, or to harvest from places that are about to be cleaned (like lichen off a gravestone or old building for example). The recipes require very little lichen, about 1 cup full for most. There are also instructions for Y.O.U. (your own urine) and low ammonia fermented lichen dyes, for those interested in more ecologically friendly methods.

Recipes covered include: mordanting with lichen, boiled water dye method, ammonia dye method, Y.O.U. method, and low ammonia method. Some of these methods take at least 15 weeks, so start early.

The frustrating thing for me is that the author uses botanical names for the lichens and assumes that we either know what she is talking about or have a big thick tome of lichen classification next to us to look it up. This is fair enough I suppose as she's writing for people all over the world, but as I live in a place where the lichen classification is incomplete, it makes things more difficult. HOWEVER, when it comes to her recipes, she's far more causal about classification, instead encouraging people to experiment with small batches, see what happens, and keep records.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Definative book on Lichens found in Canada Nov. 7 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Currant information on using lichens for fibre art is difficult to find as the availability of the materiel is local.
Ms. Casselman is a well known expert for using leaves ,flowers,roots and bark to obtain colours to dye
wool fleece, yarn and cloth. The section included in her book 'Craft of the Dyer' about lichens is a start
on understanding the techniques required to get colour out of the mysterious growths on rocks and trees,
and this smaller book deepens understanding of our Canadian types.
The written instructions are good. As it is difficult to identify lichens with confidence,I would wish for a better
set of drawings or photographs. Those included on the inside of the cover lack any indication of locale or scale.
My copy is already dog eared as I use it for guidance while processing wool fleece and yarn for rug hooking.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good guide, but not for complete beginners March 21 2004
By Erika Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a decent guide to dying with lichens. It is a very condensed presentation of the author's academic and practical research on the topic over many years. In terms of topics considered, the book is quite varied. It begins with a preface on ethical collecting of lichens. Next comes 10 common questions about dying with lichens covering such topics as "Will lichen dyes fade?", "How many lichens does it take to dye something?", and "How can I avoid collecting rare lichens by mistake?". Following this are short chapters on the history of lichen dyes in Asian, European, and American cultures. Then there is a very practical chapter describing in detail methods and recipes for lichen dyes, together with a list of common lichens used for dyes, grouped by dye method, and specifying final colors that can be achieved. One of the author's pet topics is ecodyeing, and she has developed techniques for dying that are less harmful to the environment than traditional methods, and she devotes a chapter to describing some of her alternatives. The last full chapter covers ethics of lichen dying and lichen identification. The book ends with a 15 page annotated bibliography. There is also an index. The only photographs in the book are the ones printed inside the front and back covers.
Overall, I found this book to be clear and very well researched. I'm quite fond of lichens, but I have no background in the dyeing field. The author seems to forget how little some of her readers, such as myself, may know about natural dyes. She uses words like "mordant" without definition. Certainly, if you are already an experienced dyer, such words and their corresponding concepts will already be familiar to you. But if you are a rank beginner like myself, you might want to find another, more basic book, or seek some instruction before trying out the instructions in this one.
The author works exceptionally hard in this book to convince readers that lichen collecting for making dyes is not necessarily a bad thing. Again, she overlooks the fact that some readers may come to her book completely unfamiliar with the controversy that she is trying to argue with. To make the issues more clear for the reader, it might have been useful to lay out the arguments against collecting lichens explicitly, enumerating explicitly what kinds of environmental costs may be involved. Her advice to lichen collectors sounds valid, however. She stresses above all, looking for "found" lichens, lichens that have blown off or become detached from their substrates and are lying on the ground, or collecting from sites that have been recently logged and consequently have great quantities of detached lichens on the ground. She also cautions against lichen collecting in groups, or taking more than 10% of a single lichen species from any one location. One obvious point that she makes is that you should consider your color needs carefully before you make your dye pot- -for example, there is no need to use lichens to make a simple brown dye, since browns can be had so easily from other materials. She also points out that you don't need to fill your pot with specimens from just one species- -think about the color you are trying to achieve, and you can mix lichens of different species to get that color. If you follow her recommendations, it sounds quite plausible to be able collect lichens ethically, and using her instructions, you should have some success with your dyes.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Academic Abstract Aug. 12 2006
By C. Gee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Deep and solid information, Casselman knows her lichens and seems to have devoted a lifetime to their study. That said this is a book for the trivia buff and the very serious dyer. You will learn more than you thought possible about lichens and their role in history. You will be able to dye with lichens, but you will have to have large expensive Field Guides in order to identify the lichens as in this book all you get is the Latin name. A small tome with loads of information that works witout the nasties -tin, chrome and copper
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lichen Dyes by Karen Casselman Feb. 15 2014
By Catharine Gunderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This little paperback is one of the few books for lichen lovers, and I have the author's other book. I refer to them (as well as a couple other books) whenever I am looking to lichen dye. Clearly written, and full of important information.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a novice book... Dec 12 2012
By Tamra - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great source for dyeing lichens, but as others say, it does assume you already know how to dye natural fibers. I would view this as a good supplement to other books. Most books do not even mention lichens, so you might as well add it to your library!
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Home Dyeing! March 7 2013
By Charlotte Carter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderful to find this little book. Seamless delivery. I would have been even happier if the book had a little more information on common names and identification of lichens.
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