Book Review

The Rainbow Beneath My Feet: A Mushroom Dyer's Field Guide
by Arleen Rainis Bessette and Alan E. Bessette

Cover: Mushrooms of North America

This book builds upon the body of work developed by Miriam Rice and reviewed in past issues of this newsletter. At 176 pages it includes a number of color photographs of products made of materials that were dyed with mushroom dyes, but, more importantly, high quality photographs of many mushroom species that are suitable for producing dyes.

The photographs illustrate a detailed narrative that begins with a general over view of mushrooms, identifying characteristics and collection protocols. It goes on to discuss the techniques for preparing wool and for preparing and using mushroom dyes. This discussion, however, only runs for about 20 pages. The bulk of the book, as it's title suggests, is devoted to helping the reader find and identify the important dye mushrooms.

The identification guide starts with a photographic key system that, given a mushroom in hand, leads the reader to one of the major groups of dye mushrooms. Once in the section of the book on a particular group, the reader can review descriptions of each species and examine a related color photograph.

Each description covers the following:

We counted over 160, fully described, species and almost that many associated photographs.

If mushrooms intrigue you, but cultivation does not seem to be your cup of tea, you might consider preparing mushroom dyes or even products made with those dyes. This book will give you all the information you need to get started, we recommend it.