Making Pure Culture
Mushrooms are the reproductive organs (“fruiting bodies”) of a much larger living entity, much like an apple is the reproductive organ of the much larger apple tree. Mushrooms spend most of their time hidden from view, living underground as a giant matrix of cells, or eating the insides of dead and dying trees. I grow my sculptures from a mushroom called Ganoderma lucidum, also known as Reishi or Ling Chi. If you walk in a forest you might see these growing off of trees as tough semicircular shelves.
Mushrooms Eat Cellulose
This fallen tree has broken open, revealing the white spongy body of a mushroom that is digesting the wood from the inside out. This blob of cells emerges from the tree to form a mushroom, which you can see on the top right.
Forming the Body of the Mushroom
The body of the mushrooms takes form inside of custom built molds. Like plaster or cement, it can be cast into almost any shape.
Some early experiments at growing and fusing mushrooms together.
If you would like to learn more about this process, or want to grow your own mushrooms, check out the article I wrote for Make Magazine.