Foot Stool: Processing

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  • Post published:January 26, 2020
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I have renamed this project to foot stool, since it is no longer a side tablet (too short). In the last post, I mentioned the possibility of sanding and coating the mycelium for a better finish, and I have decided to do just that. I started hand sanding the stool, which worked for the mycelium itself but didn’t get very far with the hemp hurds, so I switched to a sander. Some of the more even points of contact blended well, but there are still raised areas and deep gaps. When I tried to keep sanding down the raised areas, I ended up reaching a point where the mycelium started to crumble away instead of sanding down, so I had to stop.

I found that milk paint could work for covering the piece after I smooth it out. Milk paint is biodegradable and zero VOC. Lime activates the proteins in milk which cause it to stick to the surface. I will order some, probably in white, to paint with, and since it ships as a powder I can store it before use.

I thought of using a starch based glue mixed with the sawdust from sanding in order to fill in gaps, but since starch based glue is water soluble, I won’t be able to paint over the piece after filling the gaps, so I am not using the glue after all. I started researching alternatives that I could use to smooth out the entire piece now that bits are beginning to pull away, and it seems that there is a sustainably sourced resin coating that could work, but it is not available in the US. I might look into making a bioplastic and using it as a form of joint compound or skim coat, but it will have to be water-resistant.

Side Table: Dry

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  • Post published:January 5, 2020
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The mycelium component of the foot stool is now dry, and I baked it to kill off the fungus. There are some brown/orange spots and the seams don’t line up, so I might sand it down and put some kind of finish over it before adding the bamboo top, but that won’t happen for a while. It is now a single piece, so the growing the slices together worked.

Side Table: Ready to Dry

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  • Post published:December 20, 2019
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Today I removed the stacked mycelium from the incubating bag and set it out to air dry. The slices seem to have grown together well, so it should stay in one piece. The areas where the bag touched the mycelium are not fully coated in the white powdery coating, but I’m fine with it. The white part seems to flake off and get all over everything in my previous tests, so I may need to scrape/sand it off, or maybe even seal or paint the final piece.

Because I only have three slices, the resulting foot stool should fit into my oven, so I have brought the piece home to air dry, and I will bake it when I have a chance.

Yesterday I worked on my presentation. I created a diagram showing the textures of the mycelium throughout the growth process, and I redesigned some previous slides.

Side Table: Stacking Sections

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  • Post published:December 17, 2019
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Today I removed the slices of the side table from their molds. It was surprisingly easy to remove them, much easier than the plastic mold I purchased from I was able to get out the spacers that I had put in to reduce the amount of mycelium needed for each piece, and then I stacked the three slices. I put everything in a larger bag, and after sealing it and poking holes for condensation to escape, I put two heavy textbooks on top to keep everything in place. In two days I should be able to take the piece out and let it air-dry. I am a little bit worried about the three slices growing together because the sides that touch are not fully flat, but I think it will be more of a visual issue.

Side Table: Filling Molds

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  • Post published:December 12, 2019
  • Post category:Blog

Today I broke up the three bags of mycelium and filled the molds to form the slices of the side table. It did not go as planned.

I think I miscalculated the volume of mycelium that I would need, so I did not have enough to fill all of the molds. I noticed that the three packages did not look like much when I received them, but I did not think anything of it. It took 2.5 bags just to fill 2 molds, so I wanted to place cups in the center of the molds to take up space that would not be structurally important to the final shape. I could not access any cups in time, so I had to resort to crumpled up paper towel wrapped in plastic wrap. This is not at all sustainable, since I will probably have to through it all out later, but my work is more of a proof-of-concept. If this were to be manufactured, no paper spacers would be needed, just like cardboard and tape molds will not be used in a manufactured version.

I also ran into a timing issue, so I had to stop working and cover everything in the morning before coming back to work in the afternoon.

I ended up with two almost fully filled molds and one that will be thinner. The piece will have to be a foot stool since it will probably only be 10 inches tall (I couldn’t make all of the slices). Now I have to wait 5- days until I can start growing the pieces together (I still have to figure out how to hold them together without a stabilized clamp. I need to make sure they can at least air-dry by the time winter break starts, then I will bake the piece after break.

Side Table: Hydrating Mycelium

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  • Post published:December 4, 2019
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Today I rehydrated the three bags of mycelium for the side table. I followed the same process as in the original test (following the written and video instructions from Now I need to wait four to five days (12/8-9) before I can break it up and fill the cardboard molds to start the growing process.

Side Table: Mold Making

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  • Post published:November 28, 2019
  • Post category:Blog

Over the last two days I have begun working on the side table to grow out of the mycelium. In order to create cardboard molds, I needed to figure out what pieces I needed to create the conical shape. I modeled the design in Fusion 360, but it does not have an easy way to unroll the 3d shape into a template, so I recreated it in Sketchup, which has an extension to to the unwrapping. I could not figure out how the export the file correctly, so I tried Rhino3D. I knew Rhino could do exactly what I wanted, but I had already used up the trial. I ended up taking a screenshot of the result because I couldn’t export anything, then I resized it in Photoshop. I printed it as a poster to tile the image across multiple pages. After trimming all of the pages, I could tape them together to get a full template.

I cut a piece of cardboard to match the template, then I tested out how the shape would look. I liked how it had a teardrop shape instead of being perfectly round, so I decided to keep the design that way.

The next day, I cut the thinner strips from the full cardboard sheet because I need to grow the mycelium in thinner, 4 inch thick, sections for better airflow. has a tutorial for making cardboard molds, and they recommend covering the cardboard in packing tape so that the mycelium will not grow into the paper, so I spent the entire day working on that. I then cut teardrop shapes as base pieces and attached them to make sure that the mold hold their shape. This is not the most environmentally friendly, since I am covering everything in plastic, but if this product was produced, a single reusable mold would be used instead of a cardboard and packing tape one.

After calculating the volume of the table, I found that I need about 2.5 bags of mycelium, so I ordered three. I will hydrate them when they arrive, then I can begin growing the pieces for the side table.

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