1. Grab your little sister and the bravest inhabitants of the doll house
2. Hop on a magic carpet (preferably hand knit)
3. Flee to the woods
5. Brew potion (flower petals and lichen preferred)
6. Serve in acorn caps
7. Savour the power
(She is five years younger and believes in your power,
or at least in your ability to transform a grey day with a babysitter
into something else).
that the potion had power after all.
So last week
when my pockets overflowed with wind-blown lichen
after a somewhat scary storm,
I knew what to do.
And where to find help.
I measured lichen by the hand full.
Note: according to Vitt, Marsh and Bovey, vulpinic acid, the prominent lichen acid present in Letharia vulpina (second from the left above), is in fact poisonous. L. vulpina is also known as Wolf Lichen because it was apparently used in Europe to kill wolves by poisoning them with a rolled ball of Letharia, animal fat and nails. So wash your hands or use gloves for this one.
Indeed, According to the Doctrine of Signatures, which was formulated in medieval times, this lichen was supposed to cure disorders of the lung....unfortunately for us, this cure does not seem to have had any foundation. (Vitt, Marsh, Bovey p.235)
The question for today however (a question to which I do not yet have the answer),
is how to fill that interesting value gap between the rather blah yellow I got from a pot full of unidentified lichens scattered amidst the ones I knew, and the glorious russet reds from L. pulmonaria.
Exhaust bath perhaps?
pps Please Note that lichens tend to be very slow growing. Limit your collecting to a tiny percentage of what you find in any given area and learn what you are gathering.
ppps. BOOKS: Truth be told, I have dyed with these three lichens before so though every day, every season, every batch is slightly different from every other, I mostly know what to do and what to expect. It is a treat, however, to open the covers of my old friends and read the names out loud. If you, too, enjoy this or want to explore, learn and identify further, here are a few suggestions:
One of my favorites (currently out on loan so not part of this post) is
Dyes from Lichens and Plants by Judy McGrath
Also, Craft of the Dyer by Karen Leigh (Diadick) Casselman,
Casselman more recently wrote Lichen Dyes; the New Source Book, but I don't have a copy.
In addition, there are myriad natural dye books worth exploring which may or may not talk about lichens.
One way or the other, the Modern Natural Dyer, is on my xmas list.
has grown into a glorious adult with magic and power of her own.