Dec 18 2009

Fun with Fungus

Captain Kirk once told Mr. Spock that he should be squatting on a mushroom. If it’s good enough for Spock, it’s good enough for mighty Dungeons and Dragons warriors. So my daughter and I used fungus to make these shelves for her D&D figurines.

The fungi, as they came off of the tree. The one on the left already has a fairly flat edge to go against the wall.

Last month, I was raking leaves around my yard and noticed a dead or dying tree with shelf fungus growing on it. I called my daughter over to see, and told her about an article I had seen on the web about using the fungus to make small, wall-mounted shelves, upon which could be displayed various tchotchkes. She liked the idea, so I got her a saw and she cut two fungi off the tree. The cutting went quickly; the fungi have a tendency to break off the tree, and to do so in one piece.

We followed the instructions in the aforementioned article. First, we baked the fungi for a few hours (Mmmm… what a marvelous smell!) to dry them out and kill anything inside (don’t want bugs eating our shelves!). Next, my daughter cut a flat edge on each to go against the wall. The fungi are softer than wood, but much tougher than the little mushrooms that grow on lawns. Sawing them was surprisingly hard work.

We sprayed them with several coats of polyurethane, and put keyhole mounting brackets on them. The article recommends one bracket per fungus, but I went with two, oriented sideways, for more stability. If you do this yourself, remember that the keyhole brackets need to be facing the same way!

My daughter chose a spot in her room for the shelves and she drilled the necessary holes. We put in screws with molly bolts, and the shelves slid onto the heads of the screws with only a modest amount of struggling.

The finished shelves

Finally, my daughter picked out the most fearsome, bloodthirsty, murderous, abominations of nature that had ever been squeezed into a 5″ height, and used them to decorate her room. I couldn’t be more proud!

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