Gourmet Mushroom Sculpture

The Artist


centertown garden


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mushroom blog

Aug 22

I will be selling Phone book kits at the Stitsville Organic Farmers Market on Thursday between 3:30 and 6:30.


Aug 15

After a week in montreal I found all sorts of mushrooms growing on my reject phone book stack.


pale oysters

herecium to eat



no good




Aug 7

Strathcona was a sunny success.


My mom explaining how the phone book kits work at Art in Strathcona Park.



Aug 5

I smashed open some jars that had begun fruiting in an attempt to make a tasteful display for Art in Strathcona Park this Saturday. If you want a phone book kit to grow mushrooms in your kitchen come to Strathcona Park on Aug 6th.



Aug 4

My knuckles are raw from knocking up jars and my fingers are bleeding from smashing jars to liberate the fruiting grain spawn within. Today I did what I've been putting off for weeks: deciding what kind of oyster mushrooms to grow on the main sculpture in the Centertown Community Garden. I decided not to decide. Instead of using just one strain we will use three which means we can make three different sculptures. I chose the three healthiest strains I have that are ready to be transfered: Yellow, Blue and Grey oysters.


July 26

ORP mycoremediation update:


News today that the mycelium we transfered to straw in an area contaminated with oil from farming machinery is growing happily!


July 25


Herbfest was wonderful! Lots of people were interested in the project and took kits home to grow them selves. There were at least two great ideas: One man plans to drill through his oyster book and mount it on a wall in a shady courner of his garden. Many people were interested in keeping the mycelium growing in their gardens and one man is planning to directly transfer the spawn from the phone book pages to a straw bail. I can't wait to see how these projects go.


July 19

I found some grey oysters sneeking out of a phone book bag today.

grey oyster mushroom

I like them more than I thought I would. They are a bit green and iridescent.


July 14

communtity garden

I met Claire, the representative of the Centertown Community Garden today. We are both exited to build the main sculpture there in Aug. Members of the Community garden are invited to participate by collecting phone books, then we will start the mushrooms growing on the books and design and build the structure together.



July 13

I added to the quarantine tower today and found these Hericium growing.


July 6

I found this article on the Full Circles blog about my project.

full circles blog

They say this blog is one of the most colourful, exciting blogs they've ever seen!


July 1

While dumping some spent oyster cakes today I noticed the original oyster column prototype that I built for the New Art Festival in the Glebe that had been banished to the compost due to contamination was covered in big lilac coloured mushrooms! This means 2 things: Oysters are resilient and can overcome Thrichederma infection and neglect, and that the phone books take a bit longer than I expected to fruit. This is good news


While I was away I lost quite a few phone books to Thrichederma so I started a new sculpture with my unhealthy phone books in hopes that some of them will fruit and to see if it's possible to build with multiple species of phone books touching each other.


I was expecting the Ghost Fungus to produce large brightly bioluminescent fruit, but for its mycelium to not glow. A strain with glowing mycelium would be ideal for this project since the mycelium will be exposed but I've had trouble with the Panelus stipticus, so I am using the Ghost Fungus instead. I heard today that the mycoremediation team from the Re:Generate Long Crew snuck off in the night with one of my glow in the dark books. They opened the pages to find glowing mycelial patterns. They said it felt like I had given them a book of magical secrets!


June 29

I started to clone the glow in the dark Honey Mushroom mycelium we found in the woods near Collingwood. The idea is to put it in a highly nutritious and confortable environment (petri dish) and hope the mycelium will grow really quickly. Then I can isolate that growth from any contaminants and start it on grain, and then phone books. What we found is exiting because it is the only edible glow in the dark mushroom and is considered choice, even above Morels and Chantrelles by some. The mushrooms are big and grow in large amounts and look more like the standard mushroom shape people are used to. This would be an ideal mushroom to grow in gardens as art and food.

honey mushroom bootlaces

Honey mushrooms send out black bootlace rhyzomorphs unlike any other mushrooms. They send these down under the bark of a tree they are growing on, into the ground in search for another tree to infect. This way a single Honey mushroom organism can have many host trees that are not connected physically in any other way. A particular Honey mushroom patch is categorized as one of the largest living organisms having been recorded to cover 2400 hectares and is estimated to be 9000 years old.


June 28

The Pink oyster sculpture at Re:Generate was appreciated but not a wonderful success. The mycelium, which was once fluffy and happy did not recover from the handling and the long drive up to the land. The pink baby oysters that had started before I left turned white after the two days in the car and no new primordia formed. There was no oyster mushroom meal at Om this year but we did find a use for them. In addition to the oyster mushroom mycoremediation project to clean up a minor oil spill on the land the phone books were tossed in the KYBOs (out houses) hoping that they will thrive and break down our waste in an attempt to really leave no trace.

A guided mushroom walk had been planned as a workshop at the gathering but not many conspicuous mushrooms were around to guide people to. I saw lots of Dryad saddles, Horse Hair Marasmius and Dead Man’s Fingers but worried the community would not be impressed. We did manage to collect two strains of glow in the dark mushroom mycilium that I will try to clone in petri dishes, some Chaga and  a log covered in tree ears.

After a week in the woods at the ORP solstice gathering Re:Generate, I returned late last night to find my lab thriving with healthy mycilium. Everything has colonized nicely while I was away and now I'm not sure how I will deal with this volume of spawn but am pleased with the success.


June 19

95 jars later I've got the lab ready to leave begind for a week while I'm at Re:Generate. 15 strains of myciluem happy and safe to grow for a week with out me. I was feeling proud and thinking of taking a picture to show you the sheer volume of it and then all my bins came crashing down, jars smashing, straw tea spraying everywhere! A massive mess of juicy goo perfect for any contaminant to thrive in my about to be unatended sterile lab.



I've cleaned it up and feel ready to Re:Generate.


June 15

I met Mrs Gervais grade 4 class today.

Quelles etudiants gentilles! Quelles questions inteligent! Merci less enfants pour m'aider avec la collection des livers de telephones. J'ai haut de voir les photos de vos champinions!

The kids collected two big stacks of phone books for the project. I gave them a book ready to fruit mushroom in their classroom.

I also stopped by to see the Centertown Community Garden space. I think we can build something wonderfull there!


June 12

It looks like only the Pink oyster column is coming to Re:generate. unless those hericium are just hiding inbetween the pages of the phonebooks waiting to jump out at the last minute.



June 10

I painted the tubes to be the bases of the columns today.



June 9

I've begun receiving progress reports from people who brought phone books home to grow on their own. Nigel picked up some pink oysters from Ravenswing and sent this photo in to show how much they've grown in a few days.




June 8

I started a new strain of phone book kit. This one is not edible, not medicinal but it GLOWS IN THE DARK!

glow int he dark

I am experimenting with glow in the dark mushrooms for the Open Mind festival. I've had trouble with Panellus stipticus which I hope I can get going because it's mycelium glows as well as the mushrooms. I've made these books with Ghost fungus, a bioluminescent mushroom that glows quite brightly. Click on the Glow in the Dark lable to read the text from my bioluminescent kits from last year.


June 7

I bought a 12 foot Sono tube to build the bases for the columns that will stand at music festivals this summer. The hardware stores around here did not sell concrete form tubes big enough to fit a stack of phone books inside so i went to a proper building supplier. The men there were charming. I suppose they do not have many women come by and all wanted to hold doors and carry things for me. The boy who cut the tube down to fit in my van was genuinely interested in the project. What a fun place to work!


June 6

I had a lovely time at The New Art Festival this weekend. I'm thrilled that people are so interested in the project. Thanks to everyone who picked up a grow kit and hello to all my new friends. Next step is to build the installations for Re:Generate.

art in the park


May 31

The OAG let me down.


The Ottawa Art Gallery was unable to fulfill their peomises or suport this project despite a contractual agreement so I will continue the Phone Book to Mushrooms project with out them. Next stop the New Art Festival in the Glebe and Re:Generate.


May 30

Oh good. It's much easier to drill holes through wet phone books than dry ones. What a relief. I built the first column prototype today. Its only two feet tall but its solid. I'm Hoping it will be covered in mushrooms by Saturday for the New Art Festival in the Glebe. I started inoculating the phone books for the two gourmet columns for the Re:Generate kitchen. Success is possible. A time machine would be useful.


May 29

I had a lovely time at ArtsPark and Ravenswing. Thank you every one who supported the project by taking home a phone book to grow mushrooms on your own. I'm looking forward to hearing all about the growing process and don't forget that I'm here to help.

Back in the lab I'm getting ready for the New Art Festival and Om.  I'll be prepping phone books all day every day this week. It looks like we'll have several feet of Pheonix oyster column for the Glebe, and a full Pink oyster and Herecium column for Om. The glow in the dark mushrooms are looking healthy too!


May 25reishi

The phone books are growing! A limited quantity of Grow-Your-Own gourmet and medicinal mushroom phone book kits will be availbale this weekend in Ottawa at ArtsPark at the Parkdale Market Park and at Ravenswing at Minto Park. All proceeds go toward funding the Phone Books to Mushrooms project.



May 24

First line of order: STICKERS AVALIBLE!


It’s come to my attention that some people are still mycophobic or phonebookphobic and worried about the toxicity of phone book grown mushrooms. The Ottawa Art Gallery has offered to have them lab tested to prove their safety but let’s just look at it logically. The possible dangers are: heavy metals from the inks, or contaminations from the Yellow Pages factory production. Heavy metals used in printing inks have been outlawed for over 30 years. I have received a personal message from the Yellow Pages environmental department head explaining that the inks used in phone book production are vegetable based. These inks will actually serve as nutrition for the growing mushrooms, not as a toxin. The contaminants from the production plant or from peoples homes are such a threat to the mushroom growing process (they will be very sensitive to any tiny microbe, spore, bacteria or competition) that the books will be pasturized beforehand. Lastly I'm growing oyster mushrooms to celebrate their cleaning strengths. They are famous for transforming toxic waste into safe compounds. They are presently being used to clean up the BP oil spill, I am confident that these tests will come back indicating that the food produced is safe to eat and that they will be as clean if not cleaner than any store bought product.

Also. My word app finally learned to spell 'mycelium'.



May 23

Crisis averted!!

I have been convinced that the mycelium I'm growing is just mold and I'll have to start over again. I have actually started several parts over but kept what I had going just in case.

Hooray!! It’s all Oyster! No mold so far! What a relief!


May 21

Last night I accidentally improved my grain prep technique big time! I have been draining my grain imediatly after cooking it. Last night I cooked it a bit hotter and a bit longet than usual then I left it to cool on the stove for a while. When I went to drain it I stuck in my wooden spoon and it snapped off! The grain had absorbed all the liquid and become super powerful! I hope this will solve my dry jar problem!!

This job is all in the prep and the waiting.


May 20


I was interviewed on Dream. Love. Grow.


May 19

Lost the glow-in-the-darks but started some new ones.


May 17

Lots of growth and loss this week. Man this project is emo.


May 15

Again, going away and leaving things seems to be the key. I took the day off yesterday and today everything is alive. Seven kinds of Oysters, Hericium, and the most impressive is the Reishi. Injecting the slow jars with water seemed desparate but it worked!



May 13

full circles

FreeCycle Blog names my call for used p)hone books and jars 'a most unusual freecycling WANTED posting


May 12

Today I shot for the moon and landed in the stars. My head is spinning from mushroomtasticness.tyj

It seems that the Pheonix are growing strong. Although it is possible what I'm looking at is just mold and everything is dead. I'm trying not to stress about it. Today I transferred the Hericium to more grain jars, acquired an impulse sealer on loan (thanks Mark) cooked grain, sterilized jars and found a great big drill bit. It turns out that drilling holes in phone books and carrying them up two flights of stairs is hard work. Carrying them back down filled with water is even more. A huge roll of poly tubing arrived in the mail yesterday so now I can start some phone books growing. I did up two and am exhausted. I’m not sure where I will find the energy to do hundreds of these or the space to store them.


May 11

I think the pheonix are Ok. And one of the pink jars is showing a tiny bit of promise. I think they are slow off the bat because they are too dry. I'll find a way to hydrate them tomorrow.


May 10

Wow. I did my first grain to grain transfers today, with the first grain I cooked myself, and the lids I made myself and pressure cooked the whole lot myself. I'm really excited to see some results but I'm a bit worried. I think I messed up the sterilization and may have lost a whole lot of Pheonix mushrooms. At this point it will be hard to tell where things went wrong but, I'm still learning so I forgive myself.  Also all the jars Mark started that are still going are going really strong. It’s encouraging but also a bit frightening ‘cause I need to move on them and expand the mycelium before they get tired. The Hericium is actually fruiting in its first jar and I’m really not ready for that.  I feel like I'm in a race to get things fruited in time for Art in the Park and other May/June festivals. Time is tight. It seems like with the equipment I have I can do all this but it will be really labour intensive. With a limit of only 8 jars a day, it will take me months to get to the point I need to be in weeks. I need at least one or two really good big pressure cookers, so if anyone out there has one I'd love to borrow it. I’ll trade you a couple inoculate phone books. The past few days have taught me a lot and I feel like I'm ready to really put the pedal to the metal with this project.


May 9th

It seems the best way to grow mushrooms is to go away and leave them alone. I moved my jars into a warmer room and went to montreal for the night and when I got home everything was supper healthy! Thanks Geoff for the air filter and thanks Fiona for the pressure cooker! Love you MTL.


May 7th

Montreal artist Fiona Annis came to town and helped with the Munster Hamlet Phone Book Drive. Thank you Fiona and thanks to every body in Munster who put out phone books today.

phone book drive

Later we knocked up 11 new jars of Pink, Yellow, Gray, White and King oysters.

may 7


May 5th

PBFA was awarded the ORP Art Grant. We will install several helical columns to hold up the roof of the Kind Kitchen that will grow gourmet mushrooms. We will all help look after them and eat food grown in the kitchen! Also in the works: medicinal and glow in the dark mushrooms for the festival.


May 4th


Zen Kitchen, a fantastic vegitarian restaurant on Summerset, joins the project. If you are in the area bring them your old phone books!


May 2nd

Finished the lab. There is something really unsatisfying about building a place that no little microbe could penetrate, then leaving a hole big enough for me to get through.



May 1st

My grain jars of mycelium were safe and happy with out me while I was in Toronto. I arrived home to see they have all begun to colonize and seem healthy.

mycelial growth


April 27

Paul Stamet gave a talk at the Toronto Bottanical Gardens about how mushrooms can help save the world.

Paul Stamets

He spoke of recovering lost ancient knowledge and challanging the status quo to delovope new technologies to use mushrooms to reduce suffering and to avoid extinction. Here is my full report.


April 26

More mushroom cultures and supplies came in the mail from mycopath.

Yellow oyster - Pleurotus citrinopileatus
Pink oyster - Pleurotus djamor
King oyster - Pleurotus eryngii
Grey oyster - Pleurotus ostreatus
Pearl oyster - Pleurotus ostreatus

I picked up 50 phone books from variouse health centers. Thanks Val. You are a star!


April 24

First signs of life in the Pheonix oyster and Stropharia jars!




April 22

grain jars

I helped Mark inoculate the first 10 jars of grain. If they are succesful they will be the ancestors of most of the mushrooms produced in this project! (there are still some cultures in the mail)


April 20

Picked up a load of phone books from the Department of Defence. Thanks Shelly!

phone books

Started the first steps in the growing process with Mark! <3


April 18th

Cultures arrived in the mail from Sporeworks:

culture syringes

Blue Oyster - Pleurotus ostreatus var. columbinus
Pheonix Oyster - Pleurotus Pulmonarius
Lions Mane - Hericium erinacius
Reishi - Ganoderma Lucidum
Garden giant - Stropharia rugoso-annulata


April 14 2011

Phone Books for Food & Art was awarded the Awesome Foundation Grant!


April 5th

I ordered 10 strains of liquid cultures and will inoculate four jars of sterilized grain with each of the liquid mycelium cultures. Once the grain has been fully colonised I will split each jar of mycileum onto ten new jars of grain. This will increase the amount of mycelium x 10. Once these jars are colonised we will scatter the mycelium through the pages of thousands of sterilized phone books.

flow chart


March 17th
Trash Nothing phone book and jar collection.

phone books


March 16th

Roger Rabit confirms safety of phonebook grown mushrooms.



March 15

Trash Nothing asks to cover the project as a success story.

Trash Nothing


March 14

Yellow Pages confirms that phone books are printed with vegitable ink but refuses to sanction the project by donating over printed books.

dear bell


March 10th

Sandy Hill Health Center donates a stack of Phone books. Thanks Val!


Feb 15

Its official. I got the mushroom growing gig with the Ottawa Art Gallery! hip hip


Jan 25


I applied to participate in the Ottawa Art Gallery's Will Work for Food program



Oyster Mushrooms

When does this happen?

Paul Stamets

radical mycology