Biodesign Work in Progress

“Why don’t you just make it?”

If I want to work with mycelium and see how it grows and interacts with mediums then I might as well grow some myself-so I did.

Oyster mushrooms have one the easiest and fastest mycelium growth, so I picked some up from an Asian supermarket and after slicing them up  with some soaked cardboard I left them to grow happily*.

Set up:


Setting up my mycelium experiments at the ASCUS lab at Summerhall (see
  1. Found some cardboard with corrugated insides
  2. Ripped it up
  3. Soaked it in water for 20 minutes
  4. Make layers between corrugated cardboard, slices of oyster mushroom and flat cardboard in a plastic box


Four days, seven days and fourteen days

After four days hyphae had formed and were running down the corrugated cardboard. Seven days after the inoculation and the mycelium was growing happily, constructing a spongey circular around the original mushroom sample. Mould grew and spread between days seven and fourteen; probably due to the lack of sterile conditions under which I first inoculated the cardboard medium. Also, from checking on the mycelium growth without being cautious about sterile conditions meant bacteria would easily have flown in.

Positive outcomes:

  • It’s easy when you know how
  • Relatively simple process
  • Could be done with different mushrooms to see a variety of mycelium strains

Negative outcomes:

  • Need sterile conditions, could be difficult to do at home
  • Oyster mushroom mycelium is feathery, so not very strong, to continue might be good to find another more dense and strong mycelium to grow

Next steps…

  1. Find a collection of mushrooms from around Edinburgh
  2. Grow their mycelium on different mediums and document growth
  3. Speak to professionals about the best way to go about my project

*using the instructions from


Biodesign Work in Progress

Mycelium Futures

Back to mycelium! Throughout my research I have been astonished at the amount of research and opportunities that have been discovered with this material…and yet there is still so much more that could be done.

Some of the projects I came across started to get my inspiration cogs turning; first of all I was reminded of the work that Ecovative do in the States (using mycelium as a glue-like substance to hold together agricultural waste and use the product as a biodegradable packaging component). Then I came across Eric Klarenbeeks mycelium chair (filling a 3D printed structure with mycelium spawn on a medium of straw to make a dense but lightweight core) and a collection of work by the organisation Fungal Futures, which continue to open my eyes into the possible advances in material properties when working with mycelium and fungi.

Eric Klarenbeeks mycelium chair
The Hoitink Dress by Aniela Hoitink from Fungal Futures

My concern is that I could easily buy some grow-it-yourself mycelium spawn from Ecovative in New York for as little as $10, but then it would take five weeks, $40 and countless thousands of gallons of oil to transport it across the Atlantic Ocean to my studio in Edinburgh. Especially when I know that one can grow mycelium anywhere in the world depending on strain and medium.

My next challenge is to grow it myself and to discuss variations in how to go about it with those who are in the field, namely professors of mycology, engineers and scientists who have conducted similar research.

Some of the websites I have found most useful as part of my research so far:



There is a (Musical) Fungus Among Us