Swallow Knot – Mycelium

Jingwen Zhang, Interdisciplinary Sculpture, Interactive Art, 2024

Project Overview

The way that mycelium grow triggered me thinking of the idea of bond, in many different contexts. The most intuitive one for me is the knot that we have on clothes. Especially in Chinese traditional clothing, the way to tie a knot is very elaborate. So I did some research and happened to find that one of the knot name included my mother’s name. It is interesting how it bonds me to this specific knot through the bond between me and my mother.


  • We started with incubating reishi and oyster mushrooms with wood pallet and straw respectively.
  • Since i am using vacuum formed mold, i prepared a file for the knot to be 3D printed, so it doesn’t have undercuts and is resistant to heat.
  • I have to vacuum form twice to have all the details on my 3D printed knot.
  • I sprayed the mold with alcohol and put it under uv light to make sure it’s sterile.
  • Then I transferred some of my reishi mushroom into the mold.
  • I pressed as much as i can to make the reishi compacted.
  • I put it into the incubator for 3days, and it’s already looking good coated with white stuff, which is what we want.
  • I carefully and gently took it out of the mold successfully, which I didn’t expect! Because my shape is really thin and it is too detailed.
  • I sprayed some water on them and put them back to the incubator to let it grow over the surface.
  • After one day, i felt it is ready so i put it into another incubator to dry it out.
  • IIt lost almost 90% of the original weight after it’s dry.

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