Community Green Space Embracing the Natural Sciences
The cell wall of fungi is comprised of chitin, a biological polymer which also makes up the cell walls of crustaceans and arthropods. Like chitin, cellulose is also a biological polymer but it makes up the cell walls of plants. So, just how plants can be the main ingredient of paper, mushrooms can be too! Polypore mushroom species like Ganoderma, Fomitopsis, Trametes and other tree-dwelling fungi can be ethically harvested to make mushroom paper. The process is fairly simple and offers a fun and environmentally sound hobby.
Mushrooms have the ability to produce an array of colorful dyes. Miriam C. Rice is known as the mother of mushroom dyeing as she discovered mushroom dyes while experimenting in northern California in the early 1970’s. This technique has been adored ever since.
While many mushrooms can produce dyes not all can do so as they must contain a water-soluble pigment that is resistant to sun and washing. As with other natural dyeing, mushrooms are broken into small pieces and simmered down in a dye bath. A 1:1 ratio with a protein fiber, silk, wool and mohair to name a few, and dried mushroom matter works very well. Phaeolus schweinitzii or dyers polypore, is a commonly found dye mushroom in Michigan and produces beautiful yellow to deep green (with mordant) colors. To learn more about mushroom dyeing stay tuned for some of our upcoming mushroom dye workshops!
Myco-materials, materials made from mushroom mycelium, have been on the rise, gaining progressive popularity. As a structurally sound, sustainable and biodegradable material, many companies are adopting the idea, furthering the interest and research going into these products. As Mycelium is the fibrous vegetative structure of fungi, it can be shaped into strong materials for everyday use. By growing mycelium in specific design molds, possibilities are endless. From replacing styro-foam, wood and leather, myco-materials can pave the way to utilizing toxic free, ethically produced products.