Experiment Log 3A

3A. Mycelium Formation Radial Layout


To explore how the mycelium network and its unique structure and formation could be mimicked to develop an alternative layout structure through observing the process of mycelium growth on substrates like a notebook.

This experiment focused on growing mycelium on a notebook instead of petri dishes, as print layouts in visual design will often be created for outcomes like magazines, books and posters. By utilising a notebook as the base medium, I aimed to compare a conventional grid layout with the outcomes of this experiment.


This experiment arose from a video I had stumbled upon about growing mushrooms on a book. This video explained the materials and process required to grow the mushrooms.

I also did further research on how other people had grown mushrooms on substrates other than soil. Growing mushrooms was also possible on toilet paper, coffee grounds and even old clothes that have any material composed of natural plant fibres. 

Artist, Lisa Franklin grows Grey/blue oyster mushrooms on a recycled book.
If successful, the growth from the notebook is anticipated to resemble this outcome.


Following the instructions provided from the video, I used a small blank paper notebook that didn’t have any printed materials on it. I wanted to experiment with a book that had no ink, in case the ink would be too toxic and prevent the growth of the mushrooms. I opted for a Muji Notebook crafted from smooth recycled paper, as it appeared more natural due to its lack of any dye treatment. The grain spawn used in this experiment was the Giant Pearl Oyster species, chosen for its rapid and straightforward growth.

Refer to the Extended Methodology (3) to read the Process in detail.  

Following the set-up instructions from the video, I placed the notebook into a closed ziplock bag to inoculate, and placed it in the same setup utilised in Experiment 1 for Cultivating Mycelium Typography - in a shoebox near a sunny window.


Within two days, the mycelium was already starting to appear on the notebook. The speed of its growth took me by surprise, as I initially anticipated a longer period for the grain spawn to start developing, given the notebook's small size and limited number of pages. However, it's possible that the quicker growth was a result of the smaller surface area, which may have facilitated the mycelium's rapid cultivation.

The mycelium was growing in small clusters of white fluffy organisms. Over the days, these clusters began to merge, and by Day 5, the mycelium had completely covered the open edges of the notebook. At that point, it was no longer possible to distinguish the individual pages that originally composed the notebook. By Day 7, the mycelium had extended onto the notebook's covers and adopted a web-like growth pattern.

Since I had positioned the grain spawn between the pages, the most noticeable growth was occurring within the pages themselves. However, I couldn't examine the growth on each page individually because I needed to keep the ziplock bag sealed until the entire notebook was fully inoculated.

After a week, I transferred the notebook from the ziplock bag to the shoebox to allow for better airflow. From this stage onwards, I sprayed the notebook with water daily, and the mycelium started growing in more three-dimensional clumps. Some edges of the mycelium started to turn yellow, and these areas might have started to degrade. To date, this material experiment remains in progress because I aim to explore additional insights once the notebook yields mushrooms. The documented photographs reflect the stages of this ongoing process, with the most recent documentation dated as Day 30 on October 28, 2023.

Mushroom growth on Notebook timelapse 


Initially, I had planned to map out the mycelium growth as it unfolded, imitating its formation and placement onto a digital document. However, I had failed to consider that I wouldn't be able to open the book and monitor the growth throughout the process. Frequent opening of the notebook would likely disrupt the growth process, potentially compromising its success since full colonisation required an uninterrupted incubation period of approximately 2-4 weeks.

Instead, I decided to refine this mycelium grid experiment on individual sheets of paper instead, which would enable more accessible monitoring of the growth. Given the uncertainty of which paper stocks would best support mycelium growth, I opted to experiment with several different paper types to observe variations in growth. Nevertheless, I remained committed to observing the notebook, as it may offer unique insights into the intriguing process of mushrooms growing within a book.