Friday, January 27, 2012


My mother mollyfodged along with her sisters and her mother and before her, her grandmother. I remember a book I read when I was eight or nine. It was a book that I'd won and I can't remember for the life of me for what. But several chapters were taken up with mollyfodging. With cabbage. Which made rainbow colours when you mollyfodged properly.

Maybe I won it for an essay or verse speaking. Verse speaking was popular in my time. As soon as you could learn something and speak phrases by heart your parents would ask you to stand up at a family event and show off. I remember running through verses like they were a race to be run and be completely breathless at the end of the recitation and flop down, mopping my brow dramatically. Still too young to be embarrassed, that was to follow around ten or eleven when my pleas of “Do I have to?” and “I don't want to” were quickly trampled on with the reprimand that it was common courtesy to perform when asked to at a function. Manners. One's party piece was to be kept polished and willingly presented to others when asked and in return their party pieces were performed: by old, young and in between, at a family gathering. Isn't it a shame that those ways are gone now? In spite of the mortifying embarrassment of it all. It got us ready to be more at ease in public, perhaps. More confident.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, mollyfodging. I did a bit of it myself, not much. At one point I thought I could make a business out of it. For it is an art that should be revived. And maybe some of you out there have. I might try it again in the summer coming up.

Oh lawdee, some of you are now wittering on as to what in fodge I'm talking about?

“Lichen on rocks and trees used to make a dye – mollyfodge is picked off trees and used by women of Summerville to dye materials.”

And further posts on the Dictionary of Newfoundland English can be found here.


  1. I have used many fruits and vegetable skins to make dye for fabrics, but never yet tried lichen.

    I could not take my eyes off the photo, it would make an excellent study for creative embroidery. I love the colours and texture.

  2. Fortunately party pieces weren't required in my family when I was growing up. But had I been asked, I don't think I would have been embarrassed, I'd have enjoyed showing off. I was a terrible show-off as a kid.

  3. Mollyfodge - very interesting. Do you collect and then boil it with fabric? By any chance do you have a verse about it that you could share? (Okay, I'm being a bit of a fodge here.)

    This reminded me that reciting Kilmer's "The House With Nobody In It" was my early joy and later embarrassment. Loved this blog. Thanks!

  4. I've never heard of lichen called mollyfodge before. Does any lichen; excuse me; (mollyfodge), work or just certain kinds?
    I've just found your site and love your posts.

  5. I must make up a verse about Mollyfodge, yes?
    As to dying with lichen, I would just experiment with any of it and see what happens!


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