Let's go on a nature walk and find an Artist's Conk!
An Artist’s Conk is a fungi that can be used as a medium for artists.
Identification: an easy fungi to identify, it grows on the sides of a wide variety living or dead trees, in a colour-banded bracket with a white underside that changes to brown with time. There are lots of common names (such as Artist Conk, Conk, Bracket Fungi) but Ganoderma applanatum is the Latin name.
How to carve onto an Artist’s Conk:
Simply carve into the delicate white or light brown area like you are drawing with a pencil, but instead using a pointed or sharp tool. This flattens the top layers and makes the darker layer below more revealed. Touching it also bruises the surface area. Some people carve these mushrooms with a knife or other pointed object. Kids can carve it too by using a toothpick, as seen in this video. You do not have to press hard to leave an imprint, just draw out your design and it will appear. Kids will find this aspect fascinating, it’s like working with a magical marker.
Be mindful when carving, you may want to plan your design ahead of time because you only get one chance at it since you can’t erase any mistakes. This is the quality that appeals most to artists, drawing with confident lines. It’s also fun to freestyle or doodle the design to ease off the pressure and go with whatever comes to mind, children might like this approach best. Allow it to dry for several days somewhere warm and dry. Once it dries you can touch the image without wrecking it.
1. Always carve the fungi right away or within a day or two of picking it or it will dry out and you won’t be able to carve it.
2. Don't pick all of them from one tree, pick one and leave the rest be.
3. Dont touch the carving area! (see notes below)
Picking and Handling:
You can find this type of fungus growing on most species of hardwoods and sometimes on conifers. It is more likely to be found growing on injured or decaying trees. You’ll often spot an Artist Conk on a dead tree that is laying on the ground or even growing on a tree stump. It is saprobic and sometimes parasitic. They will often grow back each year on the same tree. We picked ours in the fall but you can spot them almost anytime of the year. Keep your eyes peeled when you are out in the forest, looking carefully along the trunk of the tree. It can be found growing alone or in a cluster all the way up the tree.
Be careful when handling the conk, the under part is so fragile that even fingers touching it will leave a bruised mark. Handle only the sides and hardened underside while picking and carving your design onto it. We always only pick one from a tree and leave the rest for mother nature on that tree. For further instructions, watch this cool drawing tutorial below:
We hope you have fun creating these memorable Artist's conk creations. Feel free to tag us on instagram @acorns.and.aprons (on the image) to show us your creations! We would love to share it in stories.