I recently discovered the world of lichen dyeing. I stumbled upon it on the internet and have since taken out many books and lichen guides to conduct my research. And I got my friends hooked on it as well, so on Saturday, we took both our families out for a lichen excursion in the forest up the North road.
Lichens are very slow-growing organisms so it is very important to harvest them responsibly. Use only lichens that are abundant. Don't take more than 1/10 of a lichen in an area. Use any that have fallen off their substrate first. If you do harvest them when they are still attached to their substrate, make sure that you leave part of them still attached to their tree/rock/earth, as this part will still be able to grow. Finally, you don't need much to make dye. One cup of lichen is enough to make a dye vat.
Some lichens make a red or purple dye and these need to be fermented in ammonia for 3 months. Others you can use right away in a boiling water dye batch.
Peltigera aphthosa, Freckled Pelt, is an abundant lichen in our area. It is supposed to make a pink dye, using the ammonia method.
I believe this one is Cladina rangiferina, or Grey Reindeer Lichen. As far as I know, it doesn't make any dye, but it is a beautiful looking lichen. My plant book says, "The stomach contents of freshly killed caribou (partly digested reindeer lichens) are considered a great delicacy and are eaten immediately without cooking. They are said to taste like fresh lettuce salad; we have no doubt this is true." Hahaha.Our next stop was a short hike off the road to an old bear's den. Apparently it hasn't been used for hibernation for the last 10 years. Kesten and his buddy crawled right in and made themselves at home. I was surprised by how tiny that entrance was. I was expecting something bigger for a bear.