Biodesign Work in Progress

A new method

The outcomes from the first tests worked…but not particularly well.  Mould grew on my first mycelium tests and didn’t have a particular structure in the sealed plastic bags. It was time to speak to a professional. After searching high and low I found Dr Patrick Hickey, based at Summerhall, he completed his PhD in Mycology at the University of Edinburgh and has completed many projects looking into the structure of mycelium as well as the bioluminescent qualities of mushrooms ( Hickey's workspace

He suggested that I need to think about three key components:

1.The type of mushroom mycelium will affect the composition of the final substance and its qualities

  • wood rotting fungus has cord-like mycelium which is tough
  • oyster mushroom has a dense, feathery mycelium
  • some good ones are stropharia aurantiaca and physalacria armillaria (see below).

Stropharia Aurantiaca and Physalacria Armillaria

2. Choosing the substance for it to grow on is important

  • On wood you get white-rot fungi and brown-rot fungi that eat different parts of the tree.
  • White-rot eats lignin which makes up the scaffolding of wood.
  • Brown-rot fungi (like honey fungus or armillaria) decomposes cellulose which is the structural component of cell walls in plant material.

3. The process in which you’re growing the mycelium substance needs to be as sterile as possible so as to prevent other micro-organisms from growing.

  • In order to sterilise things you need to either heat them up so as to kill the bacteria on the surface or spray them with ethanol.

With this new information I have now moved on to work in more sterilised conditions, so as to reduce the risk of contamination. More to follow…


By Joanna Spreadbury

Being based in Scotland gives me the creative drive to look at the local resources, people and landscape in order to inspire material exploration and development. I am interested in the process, application and explanation of both contemporary and traditional craft techniques in wood, textiles, glass and ceramics. Please feel free to contact me for collaboration enquiries