Mushrooms for Color

"MYCO-STIX" and Mushroom Dyes at the 3nd Annual Cordova Fungus Festival"

After all of her research, adventures, and experiences with mushroom dyes and polypore papermaking, Miriam C. Rice found a new direction to focus her work with mushroom pigments - making drawing sticks or "crayons", which she called "Myco-Stix®". Miriam experimented with many different kinds of media as binders and came up with 3 that satisfied her. The concept was first introduced to the public at the "10th International Fungi & Fibre Symposium" in Rovaniemi, Finland in August, 2001, and she has written up all of the instructions in her recently published new book "Mushrooms for Dyes, Paper, Pigments & Myco-Stix", 2007. She encouraged me to teach this class in Cordova.

Miriam Rice making Myco-Stix

The " Myco-Stix" workshop was held in Cordova the day after the Polypore Papermaking class. The day turned out to be brilliantly sunlit and so warm that we moved the whole workshop outside into the sunlight! No point in being stuck inside a dark classroom during such glorious Alaskan weather!!!

The USFS building was another non-stop center of fungal activity during the Festival with the mushroom displays, lectures, mushroom cultivation, and visits by classes of the local school children from the school around the corner. USFS folk were prime movers in organizing the Cordova Fungus Festival, with many creative knitters and mushroom dyers among them.

MAKING "MYCO-STIX" outside on a sunny day in Cordova!


(Photos by Amy O'Neill Houck)

DYES with Dotty at "The Net Loft" ~ Anyday!

Before, during, and after the entire Fungus Festival, "The Net Loft" became our haven and refuge where Dotty Widmann graciously and warmly always welcomed any stray mushroom dyer, and she always had a dyepot ready to go onto the hot-plate for our foray finds and whims! It was as if I just picked up where I left off last summer! Though we had no "official" mushroom dye workshops planned at the Festival this summer, the dyepots were going non-stop, and mushroom forays dreamed up at a moment's notice, folks always stopping by to see what was dyeing.

On a small table on the back porch of The Net Loft, Dotty W. always had pots and hotplates ready to go at a moments notice. For small batches of mushrooms, the "canning jar method" using large canning pots proved once again to be the most practical and energy-saving way to do many sample experiments at the same time.

We returned from fungi forays, sorted, and visually "identified" our precious cargo, trying to sort out, describe, (sometimes very creatively) a multitude of orange-gilled Cortinarius sp. mushrooms by subtle nuances in color and structure of caps, gills, and stalks.  The Dyebaths would have the final word as to which pigments were so tantalizingly hidden! Sadly, no red-gilled Dermocybes were collected on these trips.(They always wait to appear until my plane has left the ground...)

Dark reddish patches of pigments(?) almost visible in gills of an orange-gilled Cortinarius (D. cinnamomea?)


Once again, I offer my sincerest thanks to Erin Cooper for
organizing and inviting me to teach the "Papermaking" and
"Myco-Stix" workshops, and to Allen and Susanna
Marquette for being my most gracious and generous hosts at their home in Cordova, Alaska!
~ Dorothy Beebee
(Photos by Allen Marquette and Dorothy Beebee)



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(This Website page was updated October 11, 2009)

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