Aya Koné

Making Myco-clay

Turning rotting mycelium into moldable material


2 parts rotting mycelium
1 part hay/pink oyster mushroom mycelium

A giant bucket
A large tarp to lay out material
2+ feet/hands to stomp, turn, squish and mix

The giant bucket of r otting mycelium, fresh pink oyster mushroom mycelium and hay has been dumped onto a tarp. The feet of Eros are seen stepping on the material to spread it out. He is stomping and squishing and sliding. Simultaneously, he is breaking apart bits of the fresh pink oyster mycelium in his hands and letting it fall into the mixture. 

We are clearing out the old bags of mycelium, scattered around the grounds, and come across the most foul smelling muck. These bags have been sitting here, nestled beside a planter, still in the plastic, for about a year. The mycelium has begun to decompose, anaerobic bacteria eating it up and turning the rather solid mycelium filled with hay, string and stone bits, into a smooth yet firm clay-like substance.

We decide to mix it with the bags of pink oyster mushroom, as this particular strain of mycelium is incredibly loose, the bags are mostly hay, and it is not sturdy enough to build with. The mixing of the old-rotten-slush-mycelium with the mostly hay of the pink oyster mushrooms will hopefully create a loam-like material that we could potentially build bricks with.

We begin a series of attempts to mix the material.

Eros begins in a small bucket, using just his hands, turning and blending the combination between his fingers. Picking it up, cupping it into his hands and rubbing it together. This creates small clumps.

Together, Arne and Eros then begin mixing the material in the giant bucket. They throw the bags of pink oyster mushroom mycelium onto the rotting muck and begin digging into it, turning and melding the material together with their hands, a small rake and some large sticks. This begins to blend the material, but they can not quite reach the bottom.

We then lay down a large tarp across the motorbike parking, secured with a bag of mycelium in each corner. We then begin to rip open the year old rotten stuff and dump it onto the tarp, the sulfur like smell begins to rise, and we continue tearing the plastic, turning it over and watch it fall into the heap. It has become a small hill. Arne and Eros put on their white socks. They both step into the muck, and begin turning it over with their feet. We throw in some of the fibrous, hay-filled, pink oyster mushroom mycelium. Feet still stomping, the mixture begins to thicken. We continue this exchange of squishing, stomping, ripping, mixing till a malleable, yet sturdy consistency takes shape. This proves the most successful attempt at combing the materials.

We mold a few free-form bricks from the material, compacting and shaping it in our hands, and lay them out to dry in the sun. The next day, they have become quite stiff, solid blocks: stackable even. It seems we have uncovered another practical application for the material in decomposition.

Note: these bricks will not fruit new mushrooms.

Eros combining mixture of rotting mycelium, fresh pink oyster mushroom mycelium and hay in a small bucket. He combines the material with his hands. He alternates between techniques. First, he is spinning his hand in circular motions through the material. Then, he is cupping the material in his hands and rubbing it together. 

Eros and Arne combining  mixture of rotting mycelium, fresh pink oyster mushroom mycelium and hay in a giant bucket. Arne is seen stabbing the material with large pieces of wood and making circular motions. Eros is seen using a small rake to dig into the bucket and combine the materials. 

Eros and Arne develop a rhythm for combining the  mixture of rotting mycelium, fresh pink oyster mushroom mycelium and hay on the tarp. Eros is seen stomping on the material in white socks, while Arne shovels and tosses the material towards Eros. This way, as the material spreads out, Eros can keep stomping.