Testing 3 Different Mordant Methods with Phaeolus schweinitzii Mushroom Dye

We found a very mature specimen of Phaeolus schweinitzii (Dyer’s Polypore) mushroom recently. I’m not sure if it had survived winter or was a super early bird as they are rare in spring/summer.

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Tweed heaven! 🙂

We decided to test the effects of various mordanting procedures. Here is how we set the experiment up:

Fungi: Mature Phaeolus schweinitzii (Dyer’s Polypore) at a 2:1 Fungi to Fiber ratio.

Fibers: Wild harvested Eri peace silk threads and handspun Corriedale wool yarn. Both were scoured well and thoroughly soaked before use.

Mordants: Copper (made using copper wire in vinegar) and Iron (made using an iron ball in vinegar).

3 Methods of Mordanting were tested:

Case 1: Fibers were soaked in a heated mordant solution first. Rinsed. Then soaked in a simmering dyepot for an hour.

Case 1: Fibers were soaked in a simmering dyepot for an hour. Rinsed. Then dipped in a heated mordant solution.

Case 3: Fibers were simmered in a pot containing both the dye and the mordant solution at the same time. Then rinsed.

Results with Copper Mordant :

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Dyers Polypore + Copper Mordant; from L-R for each set: Dye + Mordant in one pot, Pre-Mordant Soak, Post Mordant Dip

The most vibrant and even results were achieved by either mordanting before dyeing or mordanting & dyeing in one pot. I would not use the after mordant dip method at all for this mushroom. It makes sense as the metals help the pigment molecules bind better to the fiber. Dipping an already dyed fiber in an iron or copper solution does not help at all…only a small amount of pigment molecules are able to latch on to the fiber this way.

Results with Iron Mordant :

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Dyers Polypore + Iron Mordant; from L-R for each set: Dye + Mordant in one pot, Pre-Mordant Soak, Post Mordant Dip

The best results were obtained by using the dye + mordant in one pot method. This method is considered more sustainable as one ends up using lesser water. Also, this really allows the the metal and pigment molecules to dance together in the solution to really help latch onto the fiber! Other two methods gave patchy results or in the the case of the iron dip after dyeing – it seemed to have damaged the fibers a little (they were more rough & a little weakened).

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Dyers Polypore tweed magic; L-R: Dye + Mordant in one pot, Pre Mordant, Post Mordant Dip

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3 thoughts on “Testing 3 Different Mordant Methods with Phaeolus schweinitzii Mushroom Dye

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  2. this is great thanks!!
    do you use the mushroom fresh or dry it first? and do you leave it to soak in the water with the yarn, or boil it and then strain out the fungus bits?

    Like

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