Cups from the river

Our first full try: from river clay to tea bowls.
Thanks to the generous Ruth Frances Greenberg’s vast talents and tools.


Eureka! Mycelium

I think we found our myco pal!!!!
Normal enough — when wearing plaid.
Sampan Super Chai‘s new friend, Jon Salmon of Mycosense Mushrooms, a PDX-based start up and supplier of kits and spawn inoculants “with the goal of enabling individuals to grow their own choice edible mushrooms right in their own homes starting with our Miraculous Growing Kits. For the adventurous mushroom enthusiast we’ve assembled an assortment of mushroom cultures and growing supplies that build on the do it yourself ethos we are so proud of here in the Pacific Northwest.”


I’d been searching for someone who would understand the (subterranean) landscape of growing mycelium materials, and would be up for working with us in a more scientific capacity than I possess (putting it mildly; I’m a haven for contaminants).  I posted a “collaborator wanted” listing on a variety of local and national sites, and perhaps it’s true that you need to be on the ground with the equivalent of a local phone book and a local mindset; some mycological Kismet helps too.

Next step: assemble equipment, get spawn, substrate and a more detailed protocol for pasteurizing, spawn selection, labeling, documentation, work flow, time frame.

TLAAG and I will be working at the White Stag Summer Residency by the Burnside Bridge through August…


chai goddess

Ruth Greenberg generously took Sara’s and my (stupidly, virtuous, instructive, intimate) hard labor of crushing, prepping and wedging the clay… and made cups. It’s magic.

These aren’t fired yet… mind…



Foraging for chai and pesto in PDX

Was lucky to go foraging with Eric Lyon of Oregon Black Truffles on Larch Mountain for native forest chai ingredients, and Becky Lerner of First Ways at the Sandy Delta, for nettles to make pesto :

The double-fisted King Bolete is not from today; it’s part of Eric Lyon’s haul from last week. There’s Eric Lyon, by the clear cut. Beyond the clear cut is forest. We found Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) and later, Vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla ) and Licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza).

Clouds and sun today at the Sandy River Delta, confluence with the Columbia (where so many rivers flow, mighty, mighty). Sara Huston of TLAAG and I learned about uses for St John’s Wort, Elderberry, Cottonwood, Mullein, Plantain, Yarrow, Oregon grape (most delicious), Teasel, and we harvested nettles.

Back at Tiny Home I washed the nettles and bagged them for Monday; and dehydrated the Vanilla leaf. My house smells incredible.

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Such mounds of dead biomass, like walking on a velvet mattress.

Digging for wild ginger in the ground, and the licorice ferns through the mossy mats of Giant maple trees;  sticking fingers into a body of earth and pine litter (one horizontal, one vertical –  as the ferns are epiphytes); feeling one’s way with eyes closed along  the roots; then pulling gently away. Delicious, strange, quiet.

PDX week 2

Sara Huston of TLAAG is back.

Together we processed over 40lbs of clay – crushed, mixed the river clay with 20% ball clay, wetted, and wedged.


…and I need to pay tribute to my temporary roommate at NDOI, Miriam. She’s a very self-possessed, human-agnostic, cuddly comedian.

PDX 2014 week 1 report

I’m in PDX this month in residence at an awesome tiny home, through Ann Chen’s good graces and her project NDOI (Nomadic Dept of the Interior); Ann also cofounded Phats Valley Residency in Cape Cod. This house is a handmade cabin, in the middle of NE PDX. Its chief resident is a cat named Miriam.

I’m spending the rest of June setting up things for July-August.
At that time, I hope we’ll be testing designs, doing some public events (including food, drinks, walks, kayaking and talks), growing mycelium to test forms and density, and getting the clay cup and tea plan organized.

I’m still looking for a cube-truck sized piece of riverside land to do this all on, just a 2 month loan….


1. Carrying a dirty shovel on public buses and into Safeway is a great conversation starter, ranging from toxic clay to Brooklyn weaponry to “Are you alright?”

2-11. Dug 40 lbs of clay up by Linnton, with PNCA MFA CD colleagues Alicia Navarette and Emilie Skytta (thanks Alicia for documenting!!!). Finding the site required some remembering, but it’s a nice exposed bank of relatively elastic clay, and clean of debris and vegetation.

12,13. I  broke it up into small pieces to dry out in the PNCA Ceramics studio. I’ll condition it next week.

14. A bowl made of mycelium from ecovative. Made by TLAAG, my Sampan Super Chai design partners.

15. Pea flowers (edible) that I am freezing. Planning a big dinner end of the month at Cyril’s PDX, with their chef Marie Mourou, and the generosity of proprietors Sasha and Michael, who run in tandem Clay Pigeon Winery. They — and their output/progeny/love fare — are delicious.



This is a recording from Linnton today, on the way to the clay banks on the Willamette. We walked from the train tracks where we parked the car, past a foul former something (electric grid hub, cleaning pools?), past some young-looking wetlands scrub, and past the landmark radio towers. Huge beasties, with delicate birdsong all around.

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Other things that happened:
Oliver Kellhammer and I skype-planned some public engagement actions for late July. He’ll be coming from work with Kathy High in Troy, doing brownfields work with NATURE lab. Ethnoecologist Kimberlee Chambers will be joining us in thinking through food. Consider: nature walks, specimen collection, umwelts, picnics, kayaks, bioremediation superstars, design charrettes.

Here are some titles:

Otter (or Osprey) Umwelt
The Jacob von Uexküll Memorial Picnic Kayak
With Oliver Kellhammer and Kimberlee Chambers

The Mighty Mouse Botanical Scavenger Hunt
in the Willamette Cove
with Oliver Kellhammer

Working with Non Human Helpers
Design charrette on using remediating materials in Sampan Super Chai

More to come on this soon.