Marita de Vries

Illustrations for Sustainable Technologies, Design & Constructions

KnauwKunst – moulding mushroom mycelium into artworks

The end project of my Bachelor Industrial Design Engineering at the TU Delft. Mushroom Mycelium moulded into edible Dog Toys in the shape of famous Artworks, like the Elephant of Dali or the Venus of Milo

First I had to dive into Mushroom Biology to learn about the life cycle of fungi

The desired sculpture model, I designed with the 3D sketching program ZBrush, and cut though halves. The illustration below shows how the Vacuum Former creates (renewable) plastic molds out of the half model from the 3D sketch

The vacuum formed plastic mold can be filled with oyster mushroom breed to grow into the final shape in five or six days. On the right we see that the cultivation of toys would take 3/4 days for reactivating mushroom mycelium material (step 1), 5/6 days for cultivating into shape (step 2) and 3/4 again to dry out (step 3) to be ready for the play!

Operation Manuals were created for the mushroom mycelium Reactivation (step 1) and Cultivation (step 2)

The two mold halves have to be well-closed for the mycelium sculpture to have smooth edges, which is done though a rubber band holding the plastic lugs in place, a robe over the skinny part of the tail, and a larger rubber to close the hole through which mycelium entered

Prototypes with real Oyster Mushrooms were cultivated, trial-and-error style. The first batch was completely done in my student house which was impossible to get sterile enough for the preparation part (before step 1, to create primary mycelium), concluding in black instead of white moulds. Afterwards, I visited my friend and professional mushroom cultivator to create primary mycelium together, that I grew in many different circumstances. Variables I played with were the amount of light, the temperature, different materials to make molds from (clay, paper, plastic) and different sizes.

And even played with dogs to try their new toys out!

Redbad playing
& eating mycelium toy

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