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Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book Paperback – Oct 5 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book
  • +
  • The Rainbow Beneath My Feet: A Mushroom Dyer's Field Guide
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  • A Garden to Dye For: How to Use Plants from the Garden to Create Natural Colors for Fabrics & Fibers
Total price: CDN$ 61.24
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; 2nd Rev ed. edition (Nov. 2 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486412318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486412313
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 9 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Casselman is a consultant who has taught natural dyeing across North America, Europe, and Australia. Her dyed textiles are in the McCord Museum of Canadian History and the Smithsonian Institution.


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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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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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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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Good book with lots of info, few pictures.
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Great book
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