Mini-project to test physical properties of various mycelium skins


Hi Guys,

Nice to find a small community of fellow myco-heads! :slight_smile:

Just briefly, I recently quit my PhD in Finland due to a “gut feeling”. As life is, a mushroom internship opportunity happened to fall into my place at the perfect time and as a mushroom dreamer, this is perfect! So, I will be able to get a decent amount of full-time mushrooming experience, whilst on the side, work on a small research project starting March :blush:

We are planning a small project that aims to produce a decent mycelium skin/leather that is relatively thin (less than 3 mm), can be stretched and works well under tension.

We plan to produce a number of skins using different strains, substrates, possible enhancing additives and post-treatment methods. We then hope to be able to manipulate and test the physical characteristics of these myco skins, such as flattening/heat-pressing thicker skins, stretching, drying/wetting and reworking, to see how thin and elastic we can get the myco-skin. Hoping to get access to the local university engineering lab. Would be nice to get some possible data from the project (Young’s modulus, tensile strengths etc…)

A couple of things in mind to try will be kombucha scoby innoculants with various strains (as I’ve heard the scoby gives a nice flexible end product), different substrates, layering of thinner substrates and using bioresin as a glue, glycerol soaking, latex/rubber additions etc…

I am not sure what substrates will be the best to try.
Any interesting ideas similar to the scoby? Maybe some gelatin additions, aloe vera or other natural additions that could increase elasticity and work-ability?

Anyways, lots of research and planning to be done still. I also don’t know if I’m planning too much for the time and resources I have, but that’s half the fun :smiley:
I just wanted to find out if anyone has any input/ideas that could assist/improve/or add to the project?

Thanks and I look forward to some discussions :slight_smile:



Hi, Best of luck with your experiments.

We have tried with @Elise, glycerol and ethylenglycol soaks, they do add layer of flexibility but they are not really fixed into the matrix.

and of course, you want to maximise crosslinking but, the conditions for this are typically very aggresive base and high temps.

I would recommend sticking to things that are natural and waste in the finnish market,but I have no idea what those are


Hi Gammarra,

Thanks, and for the tips too :slight_smile:

What do you mean by a “very aggressive base”?

I’ll look into some Finnish byproducts, good idea!



Typically Sodium sulphate and hydroxide saturated solutions at boiling temperatures, and that is the is the most enviromentally friendly I have seen reported.


Hi! I’m working on a thesis investigating properties of bacterial cellulose in order to asses whether it could be used in tensile architecture (mainly in terms of strength). From the BC part, it’s a bit what you planned to do! Here is my WIP writing which you can read through if you want: at the moment it’s mainly an intro, i did an experiment to compare different sources of kombucha/Acetobacter and with different recipes, a first try for a composite and a first try to ‘grow seams’ (=grow sheets together). (feel free to give comments if you have time)
Don’t know if you have experience with BC, but i’ve been having a lot of struggles with contaminations, this week will start growing again with new strains :slight_smile:
btw here is a post I made a while ago about my first experiments and the contaminations I had: Bacterial cellulose in architecture - culture comparison, composites, contamination
good luck!


Hi again, I just found an example with pictures etc. of people who did tensile tests on wet bacterial cellulose samples! here it is:

Hello, I'm Thijs

I do worry in that one is that one you are blending your BC, how different from blended paper, what does the mechanical destruction of fibers and I think I saw sodium fosfite create, that increase strenght? is it longer fibers or just more corosslinked?


I’m indeed very suprised that the blended BC has an almost 10fold higher strength, I think I will try out some mixed BC this week to have an idea of what it looks like.


Yeah just saw the NaOH solution there, the blender and NaOH are breaking down longer fibers and forcing crosslinking, that is likely the main driver of the strength


Do you think the same would occur for pure mycelium sheets (NaOH treatment and blending)?

How come the blended BC sticks together? Can you explain more about the role of NaOH in details? Would it also work without the treatment, only the blending?


It should even if to a lesser degree, because mycelium has more protein.

NaOH is a strong base, so it making the chain more reactive (sugar and cellulose are mostly acids and esters)

the blendign and NaOH activates a lot of funcitonal groups that will then start to react with each other as it dries.
Increasing the amount of crosslinking.

Issue with pure mycelium is that it has an acetate grop and this small group will just cap the reaction.

it is worth the shot, as a mycelium seam glue. (take 2 sheets of mycelium and use blended NAOH mycelium paste as a glue, seal witha hot press and hope for the best)


@Elise since BC sticks so well as it dries, it could also maybe be used as a glue (mixed or not) between mycelium parts?


yes indeed, I’ve been working on that actually :wink:


Is this blending + NaOH “glue” going to increase chance of contamination?
Might give it a go with 2 x ~4cm thick live mycelium boards, glue in between and heat press (I’m guessing the heat pressing should be done as soon as possible after the boards are glued together?)


well this glueing of seams would be done after the mycelium has grown and dried so chances of contamination a not really a concern


I am abit confused @Gammarra. :smiley:
Just to clarify:
We will use the heat press on the mycelium just after it has grown to the mould.
So if the glue would be put between the mycelium layers before heat pressing, wouldn’t the mycelium layers still be alive (dry, but alive)?
Also, wouuld the glue + heat press yield different results when conducted on freshly grown mycelium layers, compared to dry mycelium layers of the same make-up?


that is an excellent question, technically the glue is doing nothing but crosslink a bunch of cellulose, so being alive or not doesnt make much of a change,

the issue with living tissue is the possibility of enzymes that are opposed to the process or trigger other undesirable changes, have not decomposed yet.