Punalur – Mycelium


Nadia is an animator and sculptor with an artistic practice primarily using steel and stop-motion as methods of storytelling. Her work disrupts and engages in traditional processes, specifically related to her relationships with her family and intersections with the land.

Project Overview

It was the last day at my mother’s family house. Pink and weathered, it looked the same as it did 8 years ago. It’s in Punalur right across the train station. We had been going back and forth from her family house and my dad’s, as we do every trip. Every day I gazed at the green through the rods barring me off in the window, too hesitant to go down the stairs and be surrounded by the vast array of bushes and trees. It was the last day. I ran down the stairs, film camera in hand, as my mom frantically packed to leave. I took a few shots, tried to enjoy it, but I had to leave. As I went toward the stairs I saw this ornate window in the shed. It was a window that couldn’t even be opened, it wasn’t made to be open. I kept walking. paused. I wondered about when I would be back, if it would be another eight years. I told myself it would do no harm to just take the picture. I snapped one on my phone and ran up the stairs to say my goodbyes. Months later, I showed my mom the photos after developing. She said she didn’t go down the stairs.

How does it feel to be forgotten?

I recently recreated this ironwork that is present in front of all the windows in my dad’s family house. It is a motif throughout my thesis. It is seen everywhere within this house. This ornamental “window” from the Punalur house is seen every now and then. There is such detail and care to it’s shape, even though it probably was casted many times. It is now weathered, somewhat forgotten, used for wire and thread to be wrapped around to make hung lines to dry clothes. Through recreating this window I think about how I can remember this object, how I can instill a sense of care. My collaborator helps insure that with kindness and strength.


I initially prepared three bags of mycelium, two bags of wood pellets inoculated with Reishi and a bag of straw inoculated with Oyster mushrooms. I then began to prepare making the shape that I would vacuform to make my mold. I wanted to recreate these blind/window like ornamentation from the shed in the backyard of my mom’s family house. I have more information on why in the statement above. I started sculpting it out of oil based clay on a board, but after many hours of working on it I was suggested by Ryan and my classmate Austin to model it in Rhino and 3d print it. I would say that the amount of time it took to model in Rhino was the same, or maybe even longer, then how long it would’ve taken to sculpt it out of clay. But having it be 3d printed allowed for more precision, a certain attention to symmetry, and also a print that i can vacuform many times rather than worrying about the clay getting mushed from the pressure of the vacuform. This was really helpful because I had to make two molds for both blinds. After I had two molds with clear PVA plastic, I packed them both with the inoculated wood pellets with Reishi. I only ended up using half a bag. I crumbled the contents in the bag, opened it, shimmied the babies out, and then packed them in with a cell spreader. I sealed them up and put them in the incubator on December 8th. On December 10th I demolded them, flipped them, and gave the side that was in the plastic a spritz so the mycelium would grow over the top. They grew until December 14th, and then they got baked. After about 20 hours baking in 60 degree celsius, I pulled them out and took them home. I cyanotyped a print of a film photo I took in my mom’s backyard on cold-pressed water color paper.

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