Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Like Lichen!

I've always been fascinated by Lichen.  You know that fuzzy-mossy-hairy stuff that clings to the sides of trees.  Sometimes you will find it growing on rocks and old fence-posts too.  I've seen it growing on old barns out in the country.  Just open your eyes wide and you will start to notice it!

It looks like alien growth in some instances and seems to thrive on air.
The thing is, lichen only grows where the air quality is very high.  You can eat most of it and a lot of animals depend on it to survive.  Don't eat any of the yellow or orange lichen though, it's nasty!
Actually don't eat any of it.  I'm not an expert so don't call me if you get sick.

I decided to make some Lichen "tea" to use in developing some films and this is my result and recipe.

Bushy Beard 'Lichenol'   ( I had to make a word )
1.5 cups of dry lichen, the most common in my yard is the Bushy Beard variety seen in the photo above.
I gathered it directly from the trees and tried to not disturb the tree bark and only took the lichen.

10 oz. water --or enough to cover the lichen in small plastic covered food container.

Set out in Sun for 3 days and let it make "tea" on its own time.
Strain lichen to collect about 6 oz. liquid

I measured the ph of the lichen water each day.
Day 1=    6.5
Day 2=    5.5
Day 3=    6
Since day 3 seemed to be headed the other way acid wise, I decided to mix it up with some Vitamin C powder and Washing soda.

3.5 teas Washing soda mixed well  in 6 oz. water
½ teas Vitamin C powder added to the washing soda mix above
Combine the above washing soda/Vitamin C mix with the lichen "tea" and mix well.
The ph of this combined mixture was 10.
The smell was something like a musty Earth/ wet forest floor kind of smell.  Mossy scented and very refreshing! 

Not overbearing, curl your hair odor like the caffenol mix always smells.

I used it to develop a sheet of 4 x 5 Harman Direct positive photo paper exposed in my found tin can converted to pinhole and it turned out pretty good.
Here's my rough notes and the 4 x 5 pinhole shot I made with it.

It has a nice tone to it and this is right out of the 'Lichenol' mixture.
It was stopped and fixed and  rinsed like normal developing.

Nice to have organic supplies growing in my trees!
Try it!


  1. Wow, what a remarkable experiment! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Becky, you're amazing. This is just so brilliant.