Art From The Woods: Mushroom Etchings and Moss Graffiti

With the combination of the cool weather of autumn, and the dwindling harvest, you may be ready to put your garden to bed. But, this is the perfect time to take a walk in the woods and explore the foliage of the natural world.

Wild mushrooms and moss are often associated with moist fertile fall plants in the Northeastern U.S. Mushrooms and moss pop up all over the woods, especially during a rainy fall. Enjoy the beauty of the season by collecting mushrooms and moss for these inspired natural art DIY projects.

Mushroom Etchings

Tree mushrooms with their sculptural fragileness grow on live and rotting trees and can be etched on. Tree mushrooms are also called Shelf or Bracket mushrooms (because of how they attach to the tree). These mushrooms can be carved using a sharp object. The masterpiece can even be displayed on its own since a Tree mushroom can often stand on its own edge.

Mother Earth News explains the process of etching on shelf mushrooms, “It’s best to pick the tough, woody polypores in the late autumn or winter months … and then to dry the well-shaped, usable specimens for a week or more before you draw on the undersides with a sharp nail, etching tool, or dry fountain pen.”

When dried, these mushrooms become almost as hard as a block of wood and will last for many years. I show a fine example of a shelf mushroom etching in this econesting post.

Here are tips for foraging for wild mushrooms. This informative article from Mushroom Collecting provides some comprehensive information about shelf musrooms.

Moss Graffiti

Another natural wonder found along wooded trails is moss. This lush plant often rises in moist places and cushions the rock faces that anchor the forest floor. Moss’ velvety texture is so beautiful that it must have been the inspiration for richly colored velour and velvet fabric. Did you know that moss could be painted with too?

Living walls seem to all the rage in garden design and decor. I find it delightfully whimsical to see words and murals painted with moss. It can make a garden wall come alive and look like it has flocked wallpaper attached to it.

When moss is spray-painted onto a surface, it creates a naturally organic paint. This is not at all like the eco-unfriendly traditional enamel-based aerosol sprays that are hazardous to the environment and your health.

If you love the look of this moss graffiti, try one of these recipes on a garden wall.

Photo Credits: econesting, Mother Earth News, Anna Garforth via Environmental Graffiti

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Dale Overall

Delightful, love both mushrooms and the enchantment of moss especially when driving in rural areas and seeing it growing on weathered old wood fences!

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago


Janine F.
Janine F.3 years ago

beautiful thanks

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Jennifer C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Good reading. Thanks for the article.

Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago

That's pretty neat. Thanks.

K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Debra S.
Debra S.5 years ago

I'm going to write my name on the side of my house in big, stylized letters. The local hoodlums will be so impressed with my creativity and use of alternative materials!

Lu Ann P.
Past Member 5 years ago

this was really interesting and fun. i wonder, though, about the viability of moss? i've read books that said we should be careful of harvesting moss because it takes so long to grow and the current popularity is making it financially viable for some people too wipe out moss wherever its found. i'd love to hear more from care2 about that bc i love the graffiti idea.

Tom Mccurry
Tom McCurry5 years ago

This is COOL! Has anyone tried the moss "recipe?"