The Mushroom Color Atlas is a resource and reference for everyone curious about mushrooms and the beautiful and subtle colors derived from mushroom dyes. But it is also the start of a journey and a point of departure, introducing you to the kaleidoscopic fungi kingdom and our connection to it.
My hope is that through this Atlas everyone will be inspired to learn more about the mycological world, and begin to understand the importance of the networks, connections and symbiotic relationships that live in our forests. Most importantly, understanding our impact on these delicate networks and our role as stewards of the land, bringing positive change to our local environments and our planet.
- “Today, more than 90% of all plant species depend on mycorrhizal fungi. They are the rule, not the exception… Out of this intimate partnership… plants and mycorrhizal fungi enact a collective flourishing that underpins our past, present and future. We are unthinking without them, yet seldom do we think about them. The cost of our neglect has never been more apparent. It is an attitude we can’t afford to sustain.”
- – Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life
I am a designer, artist, educator and native Oregonian who grew up with a deep love for and curiosity about the natural world. I have been drawn to mushrooms ever since I was a kid playing out in the forests at the base of Mt. St. Helens. Those forests were my playground until the 1980 volcanic eruption, when my playground indelibly changed. However, I continued to be surrounded by forests, near and far and everywhere in between.
I experiment with the unpredictability of plants and fungi by growing and harvesting, observing and foraging, and tethering myself to nature’s seasons. With the Mushroom Color Atlas I decided to be more exacting with my experimentation, like a scientist in a lab, following the same processes each time in order to create a baseline for mushroom color.
My background in interactive design, along with my years of teaching, informed my approach to publishing the Mushroom Color Atlas as an online, educational experience for people around the world. I was inspired to continue my own work and contribute to what I value most: curiosity, education, creativity, collaboration, community, and the environment.
The resulting color story I present in the Mushroom Color Atlas is from a point in time, but it is meant to grow and evolve like the natural world itself. It represents my connection to the mycological world and those networks and relationships. You can use this color story to inform your own work, deepen your relationship with your environment and perform your own experiments based on my findings. You might not duplicate my results but instead you will learn from them to inform your own work.
When I am not out foraging you can find me tending to the soil, working in my art studio, or leading workshops.
Studio & Flower Farm
The Mushroom Color Atlas is the result of an incredibly talented team. I am very fortunate that my husband showed a profound interest in my idea and worked tirelessly on the visual and experience design of the Atlas. My long time friend and former colleague offered up his talents in programming and a new forged friendship sparked by Instagram led to the beautiful illustrations.
Bessette, Arleen Rainis and Alan E. Bessette. The Rainbow Beneath My Feet: A Mushroom Dyer’s Field Guide. New York: Syracuse University Press, 2001.
Beug, Michael. Mushrooms of Cascadia: An Illustrated Key. Illinois: The Fungi Press, 2021.
Boutrup, Joy and Catharine Ellis. The Art and Science of Natural Dyes: Principles, Experiments and Results. Atglen: Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2018.
Dean, Jenny and Karen Diadick Casselman. Wild Color: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2010.
Harmer, Ann Paulsen. Magic In The Dyepot. British Columbia: Bluff Hollow Publishing, 2016.
Rice, Miriam and Dorothy Beebee. Mushrooms for Color. Eureka: Mad River Press, 1980.
Rice, Miriam and Dorothy Beebee. Mushrooms for Dyes, Paper, Pigments & Myco-Stix. Forestville: Mushrooms for Color Press, 2008.
Sheldrake, Merlin. Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures. New York: Random House, 2020.
Siegel, Noah and Christian Schwarz. Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2016.
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There is a huge family of people to thank and for which I am very lucky they have shared their knowledge with me. To all the generous mycologists, mycophiles and mushroom dyers who have helped me on my mushroom dye journey: Rachel Zoller, Chelsea Heffner & Wildcraft Studio School, Ellen, Vicky and Carolyn the ‘dyers’ at Oregon Mycological Society, Alissa Allen, Michael Beug, Susan Hopkins, Ann Harmer, Arleen & Alan Bessette, the Norwegian Mycological Society and to Miriam Rice for her pioneering work.
To the natural dye community that has taught me so much: Judilee Fitzhugh, Michel Garcia, Catharine Ellis, John Marshall, Yoshiko Wada, Jenny Dean, Britt Boles, Liz Spencer and my natural dye study group buddies. To all of my students, past, current and future, who continually inspire me. To the land where I live and the place where I call home which stands on the lands of the Yakama Nation, whose ancestors resided here since time immemorial. Many Indigenous peoples thrive in this place – alive and strong.