Autumn in Michigan is an incredible time of year, not least of all for the variety of fungi that start popping up as the temperatures cool and the rains fall. As an avid forager and mycophile, spore printing is an invaluable identification tool. As an artist, the designs they make inspire me to create.

Agaricus arvensis  or "horse mushroom"

Agaricus arvensis or "horse mushroom"

This year was an especially good one for me. Mushrooms of all sorts were in abundance, and I was even fortunate to discover a new favorite (pictured above). The horse mushroom is an edible species. It has a strong, sweet smell reminiscent of almond extract and dark brown spores that make incredible prints. All you need to do is remove the stalk, and place the cap with gills facing down on light colored paper (for a species with light-colored spores use dark paper). Leave the mushroom undisturbed for a couple hours before gently lifting it off the paper to reveal the spore print beneath. I am very excited to further experiment using the spores in my black walnut paintings.

It's winter now and the mycellium are dreaming softly under a thick blanket of snow. But I am looking forward to next season when I can grab my basket and my knife and start printing again.