Date: April 21, 2017
This is the first of two updates for our experimentation with grass. To my surprise, when checking on my grass after not watering it for some time, the seeds had sprouted and some grass had grown. The grass had grown about 2-3 inches. I attribute my project no drying out to either other people watering it for me, or the fact that I had placed my “grass beard” in an Arduino case, and had it filled to the top. When I checked, there was still a lot of water sitting in the bottom. Some, but not all the seeds had sprouted. I believe this is the case because when wet, the foam that the seeds rest in floats to the top. Which means some of the seeds are not exposed to the water, even if the case is full.
Kombucha Workshop ft. Marcela
21 APRIL 2017
Reflection on Workshop:
On Friday, Marcela came into our class and was able to teach us how to make kombucha. I had never heard about kombucha and was definitely intrigued to learn more. She came into class with a lot of different jars that contained a variety of different things. The biggest takeaway that I got from the kombucha workshop was learning just how tedious the process is. There’s so much that goes into it all, for example you can’t leave the scoby for a certain amount of time and putting it all together is just so precise. It was very interesting though on how it all works and how it is something that really anyone can make. I hope we get to learn how to do more things like this!
When it came to my midterm project it definitely took a much different direction then I had initially expected. For starters, I did not think I would work with someone but ended up having a partner. Once we started to work together we thought we were going to bring to life some lungs made out of different materials. In particular, we were planning on using moss to recreate some lungs as well as grow grass to do the same. However, as we continued to do this we realized that not only was the grass not growing but it just felt repetitive. Everyone seemed to be creating pieces that had moss and we just didn’t feel that what we were creating was something we truly liked. We began to brain storm and figured out what else we could do. After throwing ideas back and forth we decided to create jewelry. This jewelry would be made out of plants and reusable materials. We collected flowers from outside of the NYUSH building and found material in the IMA lab such as old wires and began to create. We also had 3D material printed to be able to create a bracelet made out of moss. With the help of Marcela we were able to get insight on just how to create different things. Our “collection” ranged from headbands, rings, chokers and bracelets. This was a very fun project that I was very much connected to and felt that we created something that also brought attention to design. To repurposing old materials and bring a new light to it all. Some setbacks that we faced was the lifetime of it all. The jewelry would not last any longer than a day. This is something that was frustrating but something that we plan to fix in the near future.
Date: April 21, 2017
Instructor: Professor Dan
Using mycelium, the analogous structure of a root in a mushroom, as a building material has multiple benefits. Not only is it fully organic but it can be home-grown, and thus it allows for local manufacturing and innovation. Because of it’s chemical properties and its digestive function, mycelia can be used to construct and form any shape, but it can also be used to transform or glue other materials. It can be stronger than concrete and significantly lighter, and its insulating properties provide many possibilities for the manufacturing of fire, mold and water resistant materials. This is an organic, possibly cheaper, alternative to petroleum-based assembly.
Of the materials featured on the ecovative website, the one I found the most interesting was the Grow it Yourself kit, which is a bag of ‘mushroom material that has been specially dehydrated to be shelf stable’. Giving people the opportunity to manufacture their products, to engage with the process and to understand where the things we use come from and how they are made is essential in the development of a society that’s more committed to the environment. Accessibility also allows for innovation and thus the impact of these products often goes beyond a single plastic item.
After 1 week, the results are dismal, to say the least, unfortunately. The good thing is I did achieve some growth which shows this project is not a complete failure and has some potential for greatness.
I can count on my hands how many grass shoots there are which is not good. I think there numerous reasons for this though, firstly, I put alot of seeds into the top part which may be causing overcrowding and a lack of space to grow. Secondly, the first few days I wasnt watering correctly. I would just spray it and as Dan said, the water often doesn’t penetrate further than the stocking. So I now dunk the whole stocking into the water which I think has made a difference as now I am getting sprouting. Lastly, I will admit my watering on the weekends is very poor.
I hope to improve my watering over the next week and hopefully, that makes the difference.
After reading Philip Ross’s research into re-purposing local agriculture waste as a useful construction tool, I was left in a weird state where I was both intrigued and skeptical at the same time. At first, the idea of using mushrooms and fungi to make a strong building material seems rather counter-intuitive, since one would assume the material would degrade naturally rather quickly. Additionally, the article cleverly states that the material is stronger than concrete by weight. It would be very easy to overlook this key statement, and erroneously assume that the fungi material is indeed stronger. However, there is an immense difference in density between the two substances, so a comparing the two in a practical sense is like comparing apples to oranges. Though I think the majority of Ross’s research is not focused in the practicality of the material, but rather having the ability to do so and then the abstraction of the material as a means of art.
For this week, our lab consisted of learning from Marcella how to make Kombucha tea. This tied into our lesson about fungi and mushrooms, since the tea is a living substance that receives its energy from outside sources-rather than normal green plants that use the sun and their own interior process of photosynthesis. The tea is a SCOBY or a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast system, meaning the bacteria extracts energy from the fermentation of yeast. In the end, the lecture was interesting and maybe in the future I will make my own Kombucha!
This Friday we learned how to make kombucha. I didn’t know what kombucha was at all before Marcele gave us the introduction. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink with sugar and is supposed to have some healthy benefits to our body. To make kombucha you need black tea (the most common and easiest one to succeed), brown sugar, started tea and/or SCOPY (they’re the source of bacteria and yeast). The process was very easy and similar to that of making yogurt except that yogurt has more requirements for temperature.
This is a piece of scopy. “SCOBY” is actually an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” Its size depends on the shape of the container and the time length of its growth. It has very interesting texture when it’s dried out so many people actually used it to make clothes. It also looks like “meat” to me and there are indeed some people who like to cook it as meat. I don’t know if I would try cooking it just because its interesting smell.
Anyway, DIY kombucha sounds interesting and all the materials are easily accessible. I might give it a try and see how it tastes like.
My grass project started on April 14th. We were provided with stockings, grass seeds, potting soil and some rubber bands. Looking at all the materials, I thought of creating something like a “balloon animal” with the grass balls being the balloon. This should be fairly easy to create. So I filled the stockings with mixture of soil and grass seeds and made four “balls”.
To start the seeds, I need to put them in somewhere warm and keep them wet. I chose the spot next to the window so the sunlight can provide warm environment. Before hanging them up, I soaked them into water to make sure they are all wet.
I watered them on the following Saturday. When I checked them on Monday, there were only a few sprouts in the bottom ball. All the other balls were dried out. I thought it was because all the water would go to the bottom one eventually when I water them so the top ones dried out easily. Dan showed us the “controlled group” that he started at the same time we began. They’ve already grown for at least 5 cm. I thought mine was falling behind because I did not give the grass seeds enough water. So I put them back to the box because it’s more convenient to water and water will be evenly distributed.
On April 19th, the grass in the original bottom ball continues to grow but there were still nothing in the other balls even though I keep watering them everyday.
On April 23rd, there were finally some grass growing in the other balls and the original bottom one seems to be growing very well. After the other balls are fully grown, I will hang them back. I guess I learned from this project that if you want to have something planted vertically, first you need to succeed horizontally.