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Shaping a mycelium core surfboard

Reese is on an experimental journey to transform a home-grown mycelium into a sustainable surfboard. Using a mix of mushroom mycelium – the root-like fibers of fungi – and wood chips, Reese is working towards creating a base for the surfboard. The mycelium binds and holds onto the wood chips, thus forming the board’s core.

This unique method is a refreshing deviation from the usual surfboard production process which often employs foam and fiberglass, substances notorious for their negative impacts on both health and the environment. The vision is to create a surfboard whose fiberglass can be stripped off at the end of its lifecycle, allowing the board to be composted in a garden.

While this venture is still in its early experimental stages, Reese remains open to success or failure. Regardless, there’s a commitment to keep pushing toward innovative solutions.

The process of creating the mushroom base wasn’t too complex. Reese made use of mycelium-infused wood chips, encouraging growth by adding a mixture of water and flour. A plywood mold was used to shape the mycelium into the rough form of a surfboard.

In this first trial, Reese opted to follow the provided instructions which included lining the project with plastic, even though it seemed to contradict the eco-friendly nature of the project. A mixture of flour was added to the mycelium to give it more nutrients before packing it into the mold.

The plastic played the role of maintaining the moisture within the mold as the mycelium grew. After setting up, the mold was placed in a dark, controlled corner of the room, covered with towels to block sunlight.

Five days later, the mycelium had grown into an interesting, sponge-like texture. At this stage, it was moved into a container with a dehumidifier to halt the mycelium growth.

Interestingly, the aim is to make a kite surfboard – a smaller board that endures more strain, providing a solid test for the mushroom core’s durability. Reese is targeting a shape called “The Creep,” a favorite for kite surfing, to compare the mushroom core surfboard with the traditional foam core ones.

After overcoming the challenge of the mushroom base’s crumbly texture, Reese plans to fill the center section with spackle to avoid excess glue absorption. This spackle, made from gypsum powder and water, can also enrich gardens, adding another eco-friendly aspect to the project.

With the board ready to be shaped – a stage filled with anticipation – the promising outcome thus far gives Reese hope. The intention is to cover the entire deck with a spackle before shaping the bottom, ensuring that large pieces don’t break off.

The mushroom-based surfboard weighs too much compared to a traditional surfboard – this is a showstopper.