Preserving Pigments from Fungi and Lichen | General Natural Resources for Pigments for Paint/Ink

Good morning! I was wondering if anyone has any information, or references to preserving pigments from fungi/lichen? I am particularly interested in the Indigo Milkcap at the moment, and preserving the blue color it extrudes when cut. Also welcoming any good references for other plants/geology that would be good for pigment creating for paints/ink, as opposed to natural dying - as there is a plethora of info on that and much less for paints/ink. Many thanks in advance for any assistance and information - I look forward to connecting!

Also - I am located in the Upstate, NY area with regards to localized resources :)

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Dried, or fresh-frozen mushrooms often work just as well as fresh mushrooms for dyeing. Freezing will cause some chemical changes though that may affect the color (e.g. reds turning violet or blue). I realize that’s not exactly what you asked, however. It sounds like you’re more interested in extracting the dye to use as an ink. To actually extract the azulene compounds (which are what give Indigo Milkcap its blue color), you would probably need to do chromatography, which requires a chemistry lab. You could try to preserve just the latex, but its color will fade to green after it’s exposed to the air. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you. Maybe some of the resident mushroom experts will know more. Good luck!


Thank you so much for the information! I really appreciate any and all info! I was able to extract the latex from the Milkcap and bottled it, it is still retaining it’s blue color - slightly more greenish today, but curious to see what happens when put to paper. I added glycerine, honey and some clove oil to preserve. Also dried the remaining mushroom to crush into powder and add watercolor medium to for creating a paint - will see what color comes of that as well :) Keeping track of the process with different flora and minerals if anyone is interested im happy to share my findings :)


That’s really cool! I would love to know how they turn out. Seems like a fun science experiment.

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If you’re on Facebook you might ask “Mushroom and Lichen Dyers United” and some of the foraging groups, there can be a lot of overlap in their member’s interests. Lately I’ve noticed flora and mineral watercolor discussions come up frequently.

This is something on my gigantic artist/naturalist “to-do” list as well, so I will appreciate any and all information. As long as anything we’re collecting isn’t threatened/ restricted and I don’t have to violate any laws, I’m down to learn it and do it all!

Hey, @pynklynx, welcome to the forum!

I can’t help thinking that this is so “right back to square one”… We used to derive ALL of our pigments (dyes, inks, paints) from nature, right back to when cavemen first drew on cave walls with charred sticks. Ever since then we have been obsessed with increasing the colour palette, brightness, of making them more persistant, hold their colour true for longer, fluoresce, and even to change colour when looked at from different angles.

And then I think of the incredible sandcastle art doomed at the next high tide, of chalk paintings on footpaths that will be gone when the rain comes.

And the sadness of the memories and skills and knowledge that evaporate from the Earth when someone passes away…

The Earth washes clean and paints a new picture with each passing moment.

There is something truly beautiful in impermanence.


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