Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fungus Among Us!

We went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens this past weekend and saw that they had a whole exhibit on mushrooms, with tons of varieties to see and learn about. Who knew there were so many? We later took a walk and saw many beautiful ones on our own:

Also at this exhibit they had a little Homemade Mamas-style inspiration: Making spore prints! Apparently spore prints are a great way to identify mushrooms, but we thought they were just pretty and would make lovely autumnal artwork! The kids really got into this project, too! It's a great way in incorporate art and science.

What You Need:
  • various fresh mushrooms (both store bought & wild mushrooms can work great!)
  • paper
  • glass
  • knife
First, cut the stem from your mushroom, exposing the "gills" underneath.

Place your mushroom "gill" side down on your paper.

Then place a glass over the mushroom. The glass keeps air currents from disturbing the spores and giving you a better chance of getting a good print.

The glass also keeps curious cats at bay...As you can see, we did a whole bunch of these!

Now the hard part: waiting! Leave your mushrooms alone for a few hours at least (although we recommend you leave them overnight). Don't peek!

The next day, remove the glass and lift your mushroom cap straight up - try not to smudge your print. And you should have a lovely print of spores in the shape of your mushroom's "gills"!

We thought it might be fun to cover these with contact paper (to keep them from smudging), but we decided to frame them for a little fall art! This is an oddly addictive project, and one that the whole family got a kick out of!
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