Materials research

We are starting The Fungus Among Us, a 7 week course at ITP.
One of my goals is to build a materials library to test

– species differences
– color (in the substrate, after the material has grown)
– sealants
– pliability
– thinness
– carvability

– natural dyes,
– varnishes,
– fibers,
– beeswax

growing in burlap – shaped

  • smeared onto burlap (blended first w/substrate)
  • impregnate burlap with just the grain spawn

use bamboo skewers to create armatures

A slurry in a 3D printer nozzle

What other alkaline substrates are useful besides coffee chaff and oat straw?
How thin can the material be?
How flexible?
What organic materials can be introduced into the substrate that extend its elasticity, density, porosity?

Can you grow more mycelium on “dead” (baked) inoculated substrate? This would allow you to repair or add new parts later

Are there protocols for this kind of r + d?

Fungus gone wild

Left these test bricks for 30 days, and came back to living edible architectural edges. They were a bit rubbery but delicious oyster mushrooms (though they look more like coral reefs):




making mycelium material – some loose protocols


grain spawn (many are fast growing; Pleurotus (oyster muchroom) is probably the fastest species, and is hardy, in terms of resistance to competition,  but it will depend on the density you desire). You can purchase from mycosense,, etc. I recommend mycosense because they are a small attentive company, and they are really into this process and work.

100 cup coffeemaker with a thermometer is convenient
but a large canning pot on a stove would do

nut bags (or other mesh bags) to pasteurize substrate (easy to squeeze water out)

a press to squeeze substrate would be nice, esp if you are making a lot of it

substrate: coffee chaff, oat straw, rice husks – depends on texture you want

molds to form substrate (I’ve been making test bricks in hinged polyethylene containers)
will need to provide an air hole

polyfill or cotton bags to make an air filter fo the hole – keep contaminants out

zip locks (if you are using a very porous mold (i like perforated molds for texture) you will want to place porous mold in a zip lock to keep moisture in

freezer tape and sharpie to label molds

spray bottle with 70% alcohol (should be 70% – you don’t want to kill everything)

paper towels or alcohol wipes

vinyl disposable gloves



heat water to 160º

pasteurize substrate for 10-15 minutes

clean all work surfaces and mold interior and exterior with alcohol and dry

wash hands and arms with soap, wear gloves for the next steps:

cool substrate until you can handle it

squeeze all excess water from substrate (you want it moist but not dripping at all)

put air filter into hole in mold

mix grain spawn with substrate; there are 2 ways to do this:
“lasagna” method of layering substrate then spawn, or
premix 1:5 spawn:substrate
either way, the ratio is about 20%, might be less needed

pack mold with spawn

keep somewhere between 70º – 80º
(I keep my molds in a loosely closed cardboard box to prevent contaminants drifting in the air or falling from the ceiling)

You should have a pretty solid material after 6-12 days
It will look very white and fuzzy
Remove from mold
Dry in open air (it should no longer risk contamination at this point) for 3 days or until dry to touch

Bake in over at 150• – 200º for 60 minutes to render mycelium inert.




I’m learning how to grow mycelium materials.

First, a big shout out to Phil Ross for teaching workshops about this process, and for being a pioneer willing to share.

Here are some janky documentation images of my process (with support and help from Jon Salmon of Mycosense and Sara Huston of TLAAG). I’ll get a more orderly post together soon.


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Jon Salmon of Mycosense Mushrooms and Sara Huston of TLAAG.
Oat straw, a coffee maker to pasteurize, some 70% alcohol, Pleurotus ostreotis spawn on grain


DAY 3:

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DAY 5:

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Day 7:

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Cuisinart to make the oat straw finer didn’t work so well. The plastic containers are molds for brick samples, and in the black pot there’s oat straw in nut milk bags that I pasteurized in a 100 cup coffee pot.

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Transferred jar contents to bricks and cylinders.
Got the first cylinder out after 6 days of Pleurotus ostreatus, and it is pretty solid.

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The second cylinder of Pleurotus ostreatus eating  oat straw, left in the mold for 8 days

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And new substrate /species combos
Coffee chaff with Wood ear (Auricularia auricula-judae)
Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus)
We doubt that the wood ear will have enough mycelium presence to adhere the material together, but it does grow fast.

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Jon Salmon!

new bricks: 7/30

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new species: ganoderma/reishi:

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fabricating with fungus

We’re just finishing a 7 week course at ITP called The Fungus Among Us. It’s an independent project/research studio for 16 students looking at fungus for fabrication, food, as metaphor (eco-systems thinking), and touched on spirituality, network theory (slime mold way-finding and the “wood wide web” even though they’ve been ousted from the Kingdom). We have been growing mushrooms for food, for dye, and working with Ecovative‘s GIY (grow it yourself) inoculated substrate in molds. Students are working on lichen, Co2 sinks, electronics interfaces, material fabrication, pattern sonification… Sue Van Hook gave an incredible overview talk about fungi and Ecovative;  Christie Leece talked about her beautiful  Gowanus Canal oyster mushroom remediation project; and Corrie Van Sice came and talked about good lab practices around cultivation and inoculation. Students did case studies with a range of “experts.” It was a good trial run, we all learned a lot, and it’s compelling within the context of this program.

Here’s our grow tent



I’m working now on some buoy forms, which I hope will end up embedded with radio controlled LEDs for “the project” in PDX:




And here’s a systems map and catch-all examination of using psilocybin in the health care system for hospice work, therapy, addiction etc, after reading  the NY Times article, How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death —   on psilocybin / coping with dying trials: