Mushroom Prints: How to Print Mushrooms

Martha Stewart Living, November 2000

Mature mushrooms are rich with spores, and you can make several prints with a single cap. Gills should be fully visible; avoid prospects with bruises, dried edges around the cap, or gills that are darkening or covered by a membrane. The printing process brings out the moisture in the mushroom, which can damage wood, so protect work surfaces with waterproof covering.

First, make a test print to determine the color of the spore deposit and help you decide what color paper to use. Cut off the cap of the mushroom, and lay it gill-side down, half on white, half on black paper. Cover with a bowl or glass to keep spores from blowing away and to allow humidity to increase. Let sit for at least an hour.

To make the print you will keep, choose your paper: You can print on any kind -- newsprint, cardboard, or colored art paper. If printing several mushrooms together, do so at the same time. Follow process described above, but for a denser deposit leave mushroom on paper longer -- up to overnight.

The spore print will be fragile and dusty. Preserve it with two to three coats of spray fixative. We suggest you try aerosol hair spray; it worked as well as spray fixative for us, and it's less expensive, less toxic, dries faster, and leaves no film. The spray can blow spores around, sometimes creating an appealing soft edge, sometimes ruining the print, so be patient.

Expect some trial and error in printing; it's difficult for an amateur to determine a mushroom's state of maturity, and sometimes you might not get a print at all; take heart and move on to another sample.

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