Capstone Overview



Project Navigation:

  1. Growing Book Covers
  2. Making Mushroom Ink
  3. Writing Content
  4. Printing Content and Inoculating with Spores
  5. Binding Pages to Covers
  6. Making a Video

Outside Help:

  1. Mushroom Workshop: Brian Barzee**
  2. Feedback: Moe Woods and Brianne Willet
  3. Feedback: Alisha Quandt
  4. Feedback: Maya Livio


  1. Growing “Better” Book Covers**
  2. Making a Paper Deckle**
  3. Making Paper**
  4. First Mycelium Prototypes
  5. Second Mycelium Prototypes
  6. Cover Prototypes
  7. Original Write Up**
  8. Complete List of Resources

** denotes processes that were not core pieces of the final project


I decided to saddle stitch one of the pages to the book covers and glued the other two inside the stitched page. The way I ended up assembling the book was not helpful for binding, but the glue and thread ended up being pretty sturdy. The thread was 100% cotton so that the mycelium could break it down easily.

In the process I accidentally glued a page in upside down. Don’t rush the process kids.


Putting a Spine on the Covers

I used burlap to bind the covers since its made from jute/hemp and the brown matched the tint of the covers better than any other color would.




Now that I have mushroom ink I was hoping to stencil all of my text into my book. I tried to laser cut my bodies of text with a stencil font but it was too small and all of my o’, a’s, b’s and so on kept losing their middle shapes. Large font worked well, but for the body text i would have to go from 12pt to around 20pt in order to keep those inner shapes.


I briefly considered making the artistic choice to stencil them anyway, but with font this small it would greatly compromise readability. The paper that I am using is also very absorbent and small letters get cloudy very easily.

Then I had the “bright idea” to stamp the whole text. I lasercut a guide for myself, but when I looked at the available stamp sets, none of them were small enough an even with guides my stamping was uneven.


So I had to make the decision to print my body text with a normal ink printer and settle for stenciling the graphics in the book with the mushroom ink. Had I found the ink earlier in the project then I could have found a solution, but since there is so little time left this is my best bet.

Once I had my pages printed out I had to cut them to size.

After all the pages were cut and folded I cut my stencils and painted pictures onto my blank pages with the C. Comatus ink that I made.




Overview: Discussion of the display requirements of this project. As a sterile book it needs a very specific enclosure to be transported and shared with others.

For the Black Box I wanted an enclosure that would allow people to feel the book without compromising the sterility of the pages. The design was meant to mimic lab glove boxes, but instead of gloves a hand sanitizer pump would activate doors for people to insert their arms. Gloves would hinder the tactile experience, so by asking users to sanitize their hands I could allow them access to the book in the enclosure.


But unfortunately with the Black Box flooded I had to go a different direction. This idea was smaller and more portable. It also allows me to store and use the project after the class is over.


A wood frame holding two glass panes allows someone to see the covers, and maintains a use of more sustainable materials. The top will be fastened with a hinge and a jar latch so that it remains accessible without sacrificing the sterile inside. I would like the sides to have clear directions burned into them.

Since there are so many connected wood pieces, I would also like to use an inlay technique to hide the joinings. By adding sawdust to the glue, I can make the cracks between the wood less noticeable and able to take stain.


Writing Content

Overview: General planning for the written material that will guide readers through the book. The content will cover three contexts with which mushrooms dwell and discuss the importance of mushrooms in these environments.

Guiding Notes:

  • Why do mushrooms matter?
    • They matter to me because they are a neglected tool that has the potential to solve a lot of human problems.
    • For the same reason they should matter to others who create waste from product consumption and basic living
  • Why do they matter in these contexts?
    • Outdoors: Nutrient transfer and decomposition
    • Indoors/Labs: Product development/medicine/waste clean up/remediation
    • This Project: Creating an understanding/relieving a fear
  • The whole point the content is wrapped in mycelium is to create a tactile experience for the user and deepen understanding about mushrooms.
  • Give physical proof of its usefulness. The words should only guide the experience, not be the main attraction.

Small excerpt from the Outdoor Context:

Considering their global abundance, naturally occurring outdoor mushrooms could be considered the most underappreciated and understudied of commonly known organisms. In urban areas where lawns are meticulously groomed, common mushrooms are considered pests and ugly annoyances that should be removed. Western culture imposes a learned distrust of any, and all, mushrooms dwelling outside of grocery store vegetable aisles. This mycophobia, or fear of fungi, is born out of a simple misunderstanding of their ecological importance and anatomy. If we knew the anatomical functions of mushrooms as well as we knew those of a common tree, our disdain might not run so deep.

To extend the tree comparison, a mushroom, in the simplest terms, is what an apple is to a tree. It is a fruiting body of a much larger organism and facilitates that organism’s reproduction. If one inspects the rich soil beneath a mushroom they will find a white, fluffy substance resembling cotton. That white fluff is mycelium, the living, branching body of fungi. Mycelium grows radially by creating pressure in tiny finger-like structures called hyphae and absorbs nutrients from the soil it permeates.

Mycelium’s existence is that of a fairly active organism. The endless variety of mycelium strains will participate in complex relationships with its surrounding environment as it adapts quickly and acts as a key network of nutrient transfer, in addition to major decomposers for diverse ecosystems.

The invisible nature of mycelium lends itself to human misunderstanding. It is mysterious and unassuming, cleaning up the waste of other life out of sight and without drawing too much attention to itself.

Logistical Notes:

  • Each section needs to be roughly 600 words in order to fill a page and a half at 12 point font and 0.25″ margins.
  • The font for the body should be somewhere between Time New Roman and a subtle typewriter font to fit the less modern look of the book and pages.
  • The voice should be informative as well as personal. This is not a research paper nor is it a narrative about my experience, it should be somewhere in the middle, possibly with some poetic language as well.
  • Facts should be kept to the bare minimum so that the reader understands but is not lost in useless detail.
  • Each excerpt is preceded by a watercolor picture/lasercut page
  • The ink and watercolor should be slightly brownish (as if I had used inky caps).
  • The pages should be printed backwards.
  • The pages will be transferred with rubbing alcohol to sterilize the pages before being coated in spores.


New Covers

Overview: Since my covers were a little smaller than I wanted and I had some extra time, I decided it was worth trying to grow some better covers.

I printed extensions that would fit on top of the molds that I had already printed. These would make the front cover thicker and the walls of the back cover tall enough to resemble a box. I did not have very much filament left so reprinting brand new covers was not viable.


I super glued the covers onto the old molds and lined them up so that the insides were mostly flush. With 3D printing there is a lot of warping, especially on prints this small and thin.



My mycelium samples I had leftover were pretty dry and I only had a small container that wasn’t showing any contamination so I went to Home Depot and got some sawdust to fill them with. I was hoping the smaller wood fragments would help the emblem on the front cover show better. The large chunks of hemp in the first covers could not fit into the small printed details.




I bought a used rice cooker at Goodwill to sterilize the sawdust but unfortunately a fuse blew in the bottom and I did not have the right supplies at home to fix it. So instead I just boiled the sawdust for about an hour.



Once it was sterilized I put about 2 cups of flour on top and mixed it up. I packed the molds with the rest of the mycelium I had and mixed it with enough sawdust to top the molds off.


The molds were wrapped in cling-wrap and put into a box to keep them warm and away from sunlight.


Progress Checks

A few days before the one week mark


11/10/18 (About a week and a half)