“I found a German recipe saying I should use urine, fire ashes and some kind of bark …”

…”From that day in October on I have tried growing mushrooms, not yet sure for what use. It is a very precise recipe, and each kind of mushroom has its own specifications when it comes to a certain diet and material to grow on. Out of everything I have tried, I only managed to grow the King Oyster on a very big piece of straw and crumbled mycelium from the King Oyster. By cooking the straw for about ten minutes, it becomes more or less sterilized. Then, wearing gloves that are also bacteria-free, I put bits from the King Oyster mycelium in the straw and mix it together. A plastic bag is steamed above the cooking water and then, holding the bag sideways so least bacteria will enter, the bag is filled with the mixture. Afterwards I tape the bag to close it off. The bag is then put it a dark and warm place for awhile.

41402468-7255402182_ebb1fecab6 41402466-7255399930_3af535db56 41402564-7255403476_2b126cc3f0

…..”It was then when I found out there is a species, the Tinder fungus (Fomes fomentarius) that can be made into a kind of leather, being chamois. Especially in Eastern Europe it is still used to make hats and aprons.

Recipes were scarce and most of them had potassium carbonate as the main ingredient. In search of a more natural and traditional recipe, I found a German recipe saying I should use urine, fire ashes and some kind of bark that I was unable to translate. I decided to use clove because of its strong scent instead. After a long search in the forest I found a couple of small Tinder funguses.
Cutting the Tinder fungus was very difficult. After having done so, I put everything together in a pan and let it sit for a month. Everything was grey and soaked when I opened it again, but it did not come out as I had hoped. I though the pieces would be soft and able to be mashed into a bigger piece of ‘fabric’ by hammering them into a shape. Nothing of this was true. So I washed the fungus and let it dry in the sun, hoping I could use it once I find a better recipe.

41402562-7255400902_169d66beba 41402566-7255399658_0c59f450fb

Meanwhile, I became interested in tanning fish.  …. I researched recipes and tried some of them. One of it was a Alaskan traditional method. Best was to use the urine of a boy infant, but otherwise that of a boy who’s voice had not yet lowered. Not having those available, I decided to collect my own urine again, as I was doing so for the Tinder fungus project anyway. By letting it sit for a few days, the ammonia level would rise.
After this would be the case, I took a bowl. Half of the bowl would be filled with urine, half of it with water. Having cut the !sh in the right shape and having scraped the big chunks of meat off, I put the !sh skins in the mixture. I let them rinse for a few hours. After that, I washed them and scraped the remaining fat and flesh off. Then I laid them in the sun to dry.

41402629-7255399278_fae99b881c 41402631-7255398730_c6ca8ff1f6

….Making precise patterns would become a necessity, while I wanted to keep the design open and decide by handling the material. So I had to find another way to create more possibilities of sewing on and working with the leather. On the internet I found a recipe stating I should make a mixture of half oil and half a bit of egg yolk. I tried to put the fish skins in it. When I washed them, it was very hard to get the egg yolk off and some stayed on the skins. They came out very orange and not flexible and shiny as what was written in the description of the recipe. The skins did not even became softer than without.

I then tried another recipe. First I would cut them, take the meat off and put them in the urine. Then dry them, then rinse them in soap water and then let them dry again. The skins came out wrinkled and felt like paper. By beating them though, I could make them soft and ready for use. The beating process takes rather long, an hour per fish skin, but the fish skins become soft and feel like a ‘real’ fabric.
Now still I am in the process of beating the skins, since I produced more than 80 tanned skins…..Nonetheless I first want to finish the fish skin project. Important is, now I know how the create a proper material to work with, find a use for it.

full report of Eric Peter:

The Secret Art of Growing Mushrooms

38828311-P1010147 38828312-P1010150 38828306-P1010142 38828303-P1010139 38828299-P1010136 38828297-P1010130 38828284-P1010124 38828281-P1010122 38828314-P1010151 38828478-P1010106  38828280-P1010121 38857072-P1010111 38828290-P1010126 38828295-P1010129

Wednesday 02/03/2012 we had a awesome fungi workshop at Mediamatic in Amsterdam with Maurizio Montalti, a passionate researcher, artist and engineer interested in life’s bigger and smaller insights.

Besides he learned us to make a sawdust substrate on which woodloving mushrooms like Black Poplar,  Shitake or Glow in the Dark mushrooms like to grow,  Maurizio gave detailed feedback on all our fungi questions rising from our various  trial and errors fungi experiments in the last months.

We began the workshop by making a mixture of sawdust (from a nice windmill in Zaandam 49%), rye grains ( roggegraan, 4%), wheat bran (tarwezemelen 1%), calcium carbonate (krijt, verkrijgbaar bij Jacob Hooy 1%) and some water. Every substance is weighed and measured properly before we mix them thoroughly together. We put this mixture (the substrate) in special filter bags, and put the bags in a pressure cooker (for 40- 45 minutes) to get rid of the existing mold and fungus spores that are often naturally present on the wood. After we cool down the bags (which takes an hour) we add the mushroom spawn (10 gram per 1,5 kg substrate or one spawndowel) in the cleanroom, to avoid contamination and sealed the bags of. while waiting for the bags to cool down Maurizio passionate told lots of stuff like that you have to keep in mind 3 parameters for optimal growing conditions. that is temperature (25- 30 degrees celcius), humidity and sterile conditions), letting myclium growing in the dark goes faster. That bacteria normally fall from above so keep your bags horizontal when you open them and work fast. You can use 70% ethanol or alcohol to sterile your home made glove box. Oyster mushrooms are strong and can be grown on just straw nd don’t really need a hyper sterile environment.

It will take about 6 months before the shitake batches are fully grown. ( 4 months for the Black Poplar) When the time is ripe for sprouting you can give it a shock; by lowering the temperature with 10%, to let light come in and let oxygen in by simply opening the bag or by making a cut in the bag. Make sure you keep the humidity high, by spraying it every day (but don’t spray on the mushroom self). Only when the substrate block is completely white you can inject it with water with a syringe. You can as-well put  the bag in a terrarium together with a a few bowls of water, open te lit a few times a day to let oxygen in.

Also Maurzio and Margarita guided us along the works of amongst The Secret Sounds of Spores by Yann Seznec and Patrick Hickey Ecovative’s great light weight mycelium material samples, The mycotectures of Phil Ross, and the mycelium moulds of Thomas Pleeging <a href=”</p&gt;

To regenerate a harvested substrate batch, you can give it a cold bath (for about 4 hours.) and dry it with a towel.

In short  Maurizio  really opened some  doors in this workshop about the secret art of growing mushrooms.

Mediamatic’s Mycelium Rising blog has great fungal topics:

How to take care of your mushrooms


How to take care of your:

Grijze Oesterzwam, Grey Oyster-mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus

Koningsoesterzwam,  King Oyster-mushroom, Pleurotus Eryngii

-keep your substrate between 8-18 celsius
-after a few days cut two  slits of about 5 cm in the top of your bag.
-spray (for example with a plantspray) a little water through the holes.
-the mushrooms needs light, but don’t place them in direct sunlight, a basement or a shed with a small window is a perfect spot.
-after a week you w

ill see the mycelliumthreads spreading through the straw. If you bag turns green or orange, then its contaminated.(and you have to throw it out)
-whenever small mushrooms appear on top, cut the plastic on both sides till the top is completely open.
-fold the plastic down when the mushrooms grow harder, spray water 2x a day. (keep it damp, but not soaked in water)
-after the first harvest,  give your straw mixture a rest, turn the plastic back; at half a cup of water and close it with tape. after a week make some new slits in the bag.
wait patiently, the second harvest will come only after a few weeks. When nothing happen, put it away cool in a shed. Another method is that after the first harvest you can soak the mycelliumstrawmixture onder water for four hours, tkae it our and dry it with some towels. After the second harvest you can put the package on a compostheap.

-If you wanna make new substrate; boil some straw for about ten minutes and add 1/10 of your old substrate in it and repeat the whole process.


The Oistermushroom loves to eat motoroil. Here Paul Stamets  is pooring motoroil in his staw-substrate. At the moment there is more oil spilled than there is currently mycelium available. Much more mycelium is needed and, fortunately, we know how to generate it.

mycelium architecture scale model

I made an architectural scale model out of mycelium substrate blocks. He cut them in slices with a handsaw, wetten the parts which wil connect to each other. He speeded up the proces by filling the caps with sawdust. Keep the whole moist, and within no time there is a living architectural model with even mushrooms growing out to support a wall of this structure.

Ronald Schelfhout

37423533-Picture_7 37423519-Picture_6 37423609-Picture_9 37423614-Picture_10 37423502-Picture_5 37423641-Picture_11