Lichen: Melanelia exasperata - Obsession nr. 2
Next I put the Melanelia in Ammonia solution and I let it sit for a few weeks. This is quite common to do with lichens because some of them will produce remarkable colours if they are steeped in this stinking solution for a few weeks. And shaken every day. In the olden days they used stale urine, most often from cows. I have it on good authority from an Icelandic dyer that running after cows with a bucket to collect urine is a rather uncertain endeavour. And as much as I love the methods of old, I decided to skip this one. And peeing on it myself just seemed too self sufficient, somehow.
When it was apparent that nothing exciting (that means reds, pinks or purples in my mind) would come from the Melanelia I used it to dye a small skein of Alpaca wool. The colour was slightly olive green. Not as green as I expected because the water from it was a fairly distinct green in a muddy brownish sort of way. But I read somewhere that the colour of the dye water is not a good indication of the colour that a lichen produces. These guys are just full of surprises. But this is the greenest colour that I have had from lichen.
I put some Birchbark with Melanelia on top to make it a bit more interesting, but maybe it's just a bit creapy. But the scent is lovely, earthy and seductive. I might use that again.
But the conclusion is that Melanelia exasperata (I'm pretty sure it is exasperata, but I willing to be corrected if a lichen expert should see this) is worthless as a colouring agent in soap. It will produce an olive tint to wool in roughly equal quantity of lichen to wool. The exhaust bath will be a light beige. No reds or purples lurking in this lichen and it doesn't give much scent to the yarn, although the decoction smells nicely of lichen. But it was a nice experiment and now I can leave it alone on my tree.