This is a very cool and creative aproach that anyone who n-joyes cooking and building would find lots of satisfaction when playing around with this. Cooking? yes! because making spawn and playing around with fungus mycelium is just like cooking: follow the recipe or get creative with the ingredients you have and give birth to amazing art works.
If you’re interested in this you’ll need spawn. Purchase it from local spawn suppliers or make it yourself. Mostly Reishi (Ganoderma sp.), Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) or Mesima (Phellinus sp.) are used because of their superior binding properties but feel free to try some other mushroom kinds. Explore and experiment with it, take notes and see what’s the outcome.
Steps to follow
- Get some hardwood sawdust, grinded cobs, or agricultural waste
- Mix it up with 2% hydrated lyme and 2% gypsum
- Add water to it to regulate moisture content
- Place that in a container or a filter bag (at this step you may use the desired shape container)
- Fold the bag and heat disinfect that for 1 hour (pasteurize or sterilize it)
- Let it cool
- Next mix it up with fungus mycelim (5%)
- Place it into the desired shape (make sure to clean that with 70% alcohol or other disinfectant) and cover that to avoid contamination
- Allow time for full colonization
- If possible use a press to make the whole colonized material dense (otherwhise it might shrink and loose it’s shape)
- Dry it up or let it dry
The steps described above it’s just the standard method but feel free to create your own methodology. Also try different fungi and see which one works best. Think about letters, animal shapes, boxes, or anything that comes in mind, get creative let your mind flow 🙂
Don’t forget that in fresh state your mycelium shape will be well defined and robust pretty much how it should be but if not dryied right away with time it will shrink and alter it’s form. What you see in the image above it’s the altered form of a once well defined shape.
The hardest thing of the whole process is to ensure a mold free substrate. Some lab substrate preparation and inoculation techniques will help you avoid running into such issues but always a good habit is to use fast colonizing fungi able to colonize your substrate at a fast rate and prevent mold formation. Use any material from coarsely ground corn cobs to ground straw or deciduous wood sawdust. You can try doing this at home (without lab conditions) by purchasing spawn, heat pasteurizing sawdust and than inoculating that in open air but this could turn somewhat tricky due to high mold formation risk. If you think of seting up a lab for this you’ll need a flowhood, an autoclave/pressure cooker or a low-pressure steam disinfection device (diy) and some lab consumables -this will significantly reduce contamination risk.
Mushrooms love moisture, but you’ll need to find a balance between what’s too moist and what looks like a moisture lacking substrate. Grab a handful of substrate when squeezed you shouldn’t see water dripping (1-3 water drops will be fine though).