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Arts, the environment & sustainability

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Thank you to everyone that has used this discussion group and/or participated in Narrating November. I hope we can all continue exploring more sustainable ways of working in 2023. A special thanks to Ashley McLaughlin who has worked so hard promoting sustainability at OCA. It's been great working with her this last year.

I am ending the year with a few website links about sustainable/natural dyes. These can be used for fabric-related projects and also adapted to be made into inks/watercolours. I haven't yet perfected a printmaking consistency yet so my aim is to try and achieve better results with that next year. If anyone has made a decent/reliable natural relief or screenprinting ink please email me.

When creating natural dyes watch out for ingredients, such as cochineal, as these might be natural but they are also animal-based.

I have been testing creating dyes myself and have been gathering together my findings.

There's plenty of helpful websites out there – here's a selection of 4 that I came across.

This website is a friendly guide to starting out creating your own natural dyes:

Her website is also ultra informative:

This website has a more academic article about using fungi to create pigments:

Fungi as a Potential Source of Pigments: Harnessing Filamentous Fungi
Fungi as a Potential Source of Pigments: Harnessing Filamentous Fungi
The growing concern over the harmful effects of synthetic colorants on both the consumer and the environment has raised a strong interest in natural coloring alternatives. As a result the worldwide demand for colorants of natural origin is rapidly increasing in the food, cosmetic and textile sectors. Natural colorants have the capacity to be used for a variety of industrial applications, for instance, as dyes for textile and non-textile substrates such as leather, paper, within paints and coatings, in cosmetics, and in food additives. Currently, pigments and colorants produced through plants and microbes are the primary source exploited by modern industries. Among the other non-conventional sources, filamentous fungi particularly ascomycetous and basidiomycetous fungi (mushrooms), and lichens (symbiotic association of a fungus with a green alga or cyanobacterium) are known to produce an extraordinary range of colors including several chemical classes of pigments such as melanins, azaphilones, flavins, phenazines, and quinines. This review seeks to emphasize the opportunity afforded by pigments naturally found in fungi as a viable green alternative to current sources. This review presents a comprehensive discussion on the capacity of fungal resources such as endophytes, halophytes, and fungi obtained from a range or sources such as soil, sediments, mangroves, and marine environments. A key driver of the interest in fungi as a source of pigments stems from environmental fact...

This website has tips and articles about using fungi/mushrooms for dyes:

Ashley Mclaughlin


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  • 8 Jun Sat | 'Bookmaking With Scrap Material'

  • 12 Jun Wed | 'The Sustainable Site - Gardens, Sculpture, Installations and Land art'

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