This open-ended craft exploration is directly inspired by a recent ‘Fungi Treasure Hunt’ walk and talk in our local park, recommended to us by a friend and that we attended as a family. All of us found the treasure hunt both hugely informative and educational, as well as inspiring. It was fascinating to experience the park in such new detail; seeing things that we would ordinarily no doubt miss, learning the names and so many interesting facts about all the fungi we found. The rich variety of shapes, sizes, textures and colours of all the different fungi species we saw were so awe-inspiring, and it was lovely to see the children so engaged and taking plenty of beautiful pictures, and enjoying the sense of discovery when they spotted something new.
We chose to use air-dry clay as a medium to recall, talk about and further explore the fungi that we had seen on our walk. We’ve found ourselves using air-dry clay a lot this year; it’s been very popular in our groups and amongst my daughter and her friends and it nicely echoes our Spring craft in the PowerWood creative corner (so you might already have some to hand) 😊. Air-dry clay is fairly inexpensive and can be easily found in high street shops like The Works (UK), and doesn’t require an oven for baking. If stored well, it can last a while too. It is versatile, in the sense that you can more easily work on different scales and create larger projects and it is relatively mess free if you work on a small tray or some baking paper. It does involve the sensory experience of getting hands a bit messy – it’s great to experience this from time to time, and indeed working with clay can feel very grounding, however you could use Polymer Clay as another mess-free alternative (and especially good for small detailed makes).
The tutorial below is more of an invitation to explore than step-by-step guide on how to make specific mushrooms… feel free to explore your own geographical area or garden looking for inspiration in nature, or express your own knowledge and passion through this craft… the mushrooms, toadstools and fungi that you make can be realistic and to scale, or miniature versions of fungi you’ve seen, or, you might choose to make more imaginary fungi that could be combinations of fungi you’ve seen, and painted in fantastical colours. You might even choose just one mushroom that is your favourite, and make a larger version of it to turn into a garden ornament? If you do make several mushrooms, you could turn your creations into an autumnal centre-piece display/decoration, use them to decorate plant pots, or just have lots of fun making, playing and exploring with clay…
Whatever you create, wishing you a very cosy autumn with plenty of nature adventures and…
Note: if you do go on a fungi-spotting nature walk, please don’t pick or eat anything without the guidance of an adult guardian or an expert!
© 2022 Abigail Cole
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