Introduction: Mycelium Molds

About: UC Davis Design student

Mycelium is currently being looked at as an alternative to styrofoam and other toxic packaging alternatives. Mycelium can be seen as an environmentally friendly solution to certain uses of plastic due to its incredible strength and lightweight. Today this guide will show you how to use mycelium for a simple box shaped container. This guide may serve as a good starting point to perform more complex figures and shapes with mycelium.

Step 1: Gathering Materials

Before we begin, lets start off with a checklist of materials that will be needed.

- All purpose Flour

- Isopropyl Alcohol

- Water

- Latex or rubber gloves

- Mycelium in substrate

- Breathing mask

- Plastic wrap

- 1 inch thick wood (if your making your own wood mold)

- Wood Glue

- 2 inch nails

- Power drill

- Table saw

Once all the materials and tools have been gathered it is time to construct your mold!

Step 2: Mold Building

When building the mold there is various options and things one must consider. You don't have to build a wooden mold. if you have two plastic or glass bowls of different sizes you can pack the largest with mycelium and put the smaller container in the middle. The Mycelium will grow around the container giving you a quick and easy container mold. If you wish yo proceed with wood you have more flexibility and control over the aesthetics of your mycelium container.

To begin you want to cut 5 pieces of 1in thick wood of your choice. Depending on the shape and size you can chose whatever dimensions you'd like, keep in mind the larger the mold the longer it will take to grow. I cut my mold panels to about 7" x 7" with the smaller interior box being 4.5" x 4.5". With the smaller box you want to use wood glue to seal it off and make a solid cube like shape. As for the rest of the mold you'll want to bolt the panels together using a power drill. This will allow you to take apart the mold easily if you want to put designs or holes on the side of your mycelium box. Once bolted together you want to cut a sixth piece to create a lid over the entire mold. You'll want to drill various holes to allow a bit of oxygen to contact the mycelium.

Step 3: Prepping Your Mycelium

The process of prepping your mycelium can take about 24-48 hours to activate the mycelium in the substrate. Make sure you STERILIZE your working area with alcohol to rid all bacteria, yeast, and molds. Contamination can ruin your project. Depending on where you get your mycelium there are specific instructions on how to prep the mycelium. We will be using Mycelium from the site for this example.

In order to prep the mycelium you'll want to add about 4-6 cups of water and about 6-8 tablespoons of flour to the substrate bag. Once you have done this shake the bag very well being careful not to tear the bag or the O2 release. once the bag is well shaken and the ingredients have been well distributed let the bag sit for 4-5 days in a clean area out of direct sunlight.

Step 4:

After 4-5days check on your mycelium if all turned out well the bark substrate should be covered in white mycelium. From here you'll want to begin lining your wooden mold with plastic wrap.

To remove mycelium from the bag you'll want to re-sterilize your working area put your mask and gloves on and add another 3 tablespoons of Flour to a mixing bowl and pour in mycelium. The white may disappear but that is ok.

pack in the mycelium into your mold and cover with punctured lid and allow to sit out of direct sunlight in clean area for 5-6 days.

Step 5: Baking

Once your mold has sat for 5-6 days grab your drill and unscrew your mold and remove center cube and allow to sit in open air for 2 days. Once dried bake your mycelium at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. allow to dry completely.