Aya Koné

Sculpting with Mycelium

Making a Fertile Figure from Mycelium and Myco-Clay


Fresh mycelium base for foundational structure
Rotten mycelium overlay to sculpt detail
Gloves to protect from splinters

Optional: Toothpicks to stab parts together that simply won’t stick


Fertility Figure: Side View - The completed torso of fertility figure, after attaching breasts to the belly, is set to rest and solidify.

I have just finished my Y-shaped support post prototype, and have pieces of mycelium in various shapes scattered around me. I have been carving the support post to shape, excess pieces of mycelium falling to the ground. I do not want to leave anything to waste. Around the corner sits the huge bucket of rotten and fresh mycelium-clay. I decide to build a decorative fertility figure. I begin by stacking the excess, fresh mycelium cuttings as a base form in the shape of a full, pregnant belly with a long flat neck. I layer the mycelium like a crooked pyramid on the lower end of the foundation. I begin to saw off bits into the shape of a full belly. It is not exact by any means. I stuff more excess fresh mycelium into the cracks, and use the looser bits to shape the stomach. I realize it doesn’t need to lay perfectly flat, I can use the rotten mycelium-clay mixture as a sort of glue. I begin to layer the mixture over the fresh mycelium base-form. It is so malleable I can begin to use it to shape the features of the belly. I can smooth it quite evenly. I form a large outie belly button. Having found a new technique, I begin to form the breasts of the figure. Again, I use large bits of the excess fresh mycelium and shape it using the rotten muck mixture. I use this rotten muck to attach the breasts just above the belly. As it is quite fragile, I decide to pause working on the figure for the day, and let the pieces of fresh mycelium grow together over the next two weeks.

A few weeks later, when I come back to it, it has become a solid body. The pieces have all grown together. A new layer of bright white mycelium has encompassed the back. A faint white layer of either mold or mycelium has found a home across the front of the figure. I bring the torso back to my studio in the Hague. Sitting inside in the warmth, it seemed to find enough comfort to sprout a mushroom off the left side of the belly.

She had a baby!