The Magic of Mushroom & Lichen Dyes (3 days)

The Magic of Mushroom & Lichen Dyes (3 days)


An intensive 3 day study of our amazing regional fungi and lichen dye palette. Time is spent ‘in the field’ learning to identify local fungi and lichens, and about ethical and ecological harvesting considerations. Then we return to the studio, learning to craft a rainbow of dyes.

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~ About The Instructor ~

Alissa Allen is possibly the most highly regarded fungi dyer in North America today. She is an expert in the safe and ecological identification, harvest and use of a huge range of mushrooms and lichens to create spectacular regional dye palettes.

Alissa is the founder and admin of Mushroom and Lichen Dyers United and of the Mushroom Dyers Trading Post, and the author of numerous articles on mycopigments She regularly teaches throughout the US, and this is her first time bringing her wonderful skills to eastern Canada.

When: Friday 30 August - Sunday 1 September, 2019; 10 am to 4 pm each day

Where: Mamie’s Schoolhouse, 97 Rooster Hill Road, Goose Cove, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Class Size: max 15 to ensure support and feedback for each student

Age & Experience: 18 years or older; suitable for beginners and for those wishing to expand their fungi dye skills

Registration Fee:

<please note: at checkout, this web platform only calculates tax for customers with a Canadian billing address; those with billing addresses in other countries, will be sent a separate invoice for Nova Scotia’s 15% harmonized sales tax>

$625 + tax, which includes

  • 3 days of instruction (see outline below)

  • catered vegetarian lunch on days 2 & 3 day (you should bring a packed lunch on day 1, as we will be ‘in the field’ until after lunch - see below)

  • all sample materials (mini wool skeins, and a silk scarf), mordants, modifiers, and equipment

  • dye record handout

  • students are also welcome to bring their own small fibre samples (to use up left-over dye baths), which must be:

    • un-dyed pure wool, or wool/silk blend (i.e. no synthetic fibres, and no cellulose fibres such as cotton, linen, etc.)

    • not superwash

    • sport, dk, or worsted weight

    • in 28 gm/1 oz bundles, or smaller


~ Workshop Outline ~

Day one – observing /documenting / identifying

  • Dye mushrooms and lichens only occur in the wild, so we will start the course at a suitable nearby area to observe fungi in their natural habitat (address and directions will be provided to registered students).

  • While in the field, we explore the topics of fungal ecology, ethical harvest, and documenting our finds for identification.

  • After we break for lunch, we return to the dye studio and test specimens (pre-collected if necessary) for optimal colour.

  • We finish our day by completing our first entry in our dye notebooks. 

Day two - extracting, dyeing, modifying

  • We review and build on our dye experiments from day one.

  • Working with ten different species, we create a full spectrum of colour - 20 samples in all.

  • We examine the unique considerations for each colour group to maximize dye potential.

  • The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the different ways to work with natural mineral salts known as mordants.

  • We will dye a beautiful silk scarf using the mordant-in-the-pot technique and go through the steps of pre-mordanting our wool yarn for day three. 

Day three - applying skills

  • Each participant works with pre-mordanted yarn to create unique colourways to use in their own creative practices.

  • Students finish the workshop ready to ethically and fearlessly go forward, using mushrooms and lichen for dyes.

~ About Registration ~

Payment Terms:

  • Payment is due at time of registration via this web site. At this time, we can not take registrations in person, by phone, email, etc.

  • Cancellations on or before February 28 will be charged a $100 + tax administration fee.

  • Cancellations on or after Mar 31 receive a 50% refund.

  • Cancellations on or after April 30 receive no refund.

  • With permission of Mamie’s Schoolhouse, registration is transferrable to someone else (to be coordinated by the cancelling student).

  • Anyone registering for someone else is responsible for that registration, and will continue to be the point of contact on all related matters.

The Registration Fee Does Not Include The Following, Which Are The Student's Responsibility:

  • Accommodation (see links below to local accommodation information)

  • Transportation to/from Cape Breton, to/from the workshop each day, and all other local travel

  • Travel insurance

  • Meals (other than the catered lunches noted aboe)

~ About The Venue ~

  • 25 minutes north-east of Baddeck (the nearest full service community), and one hour from Sydney (the island’s largest community and location of the nearest airport), Mamie’s Schoolhouse is located on 70 peaceful, organic acres stretching west from the North River and the world famous Cabot Trail, in the small, beautiful community of Goose Cove.

  • The studio is fully accessible, and there is plenty of parking.

  • There is plenty of nearby accommodation, including an ever growing number of Airbnb options.

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With the exception of the Google Map, images © Alissa Allen.