MSSF Fungus Fair 2013 was such a fun experience. The Hall of Flowers was filled with rows of labeled wild mushrooms, microscopes for an up close look at spores, activities for the kids, growing kits, cooking demos, and even a couple of artists. My table was next to the folks at the Sonoma County Mycological Association (SOMA), and we had a blast. I was fortunate to have Andrew Field with me to help setup, keep me company, and bring coffee on this rare below-freezing day in San Francisco. He had a fun time watching the cooking demos and learning about mushrooms from the experts scattered around the room.
I sold lots of prints, especially greeting cards, and I came home with a lovely painting of Stropharia ambigua by Lucy Martin and a growing kit so I can try growing my own mushrooms at home. Everybody at the fair was so welcoming, and I will definitely be back next year with a new batch of mushroom prints and spore print necklaces.
The Mycological Society of San Francisco (MSSF) puts on an annual Fungus Fair to showcase the Bay Area's mushroom diversity. It's a wonderful chance to see all of the interesting tasty and deadly species of fungi we have here, and to have your backyard mushrooms identified by the experts. Come enjoy cooking demos, talks, identification tables, and visit vendors selling artwork (including me!), edible mushrooms, and kits for growing your own.
Fungus Fair Info Page: mssf.org/fungus-fairs
Tickets are $10 for adults: eventbrite.com
Date: Sunday, December 8th, 2013
Time: 10am - 5pm
Location: Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park at 9th & Lincoln
This is my first time ever setting up a table to sell my artwork and it has been an interesting and busy experience. I emailed the MSSF coordinators at the very end of October to see if I could sell fungus-related artwork at the fair. In only 1 month, I managed to paint 6 new mushrooms, get them all printed and packaged, and figure out how to set up my table and all that goes along with selling artwork. It has been really fun thinking about my "brand" and creating a table that reflects my style and looks professional.
I learned a ton just from googling craft fair blogs and Pinterest. All of the crafty people out there have a lot of experience and it was so helpful to read advice, lists of things to bring, and to see how other people organize inventories and supplies. I discovered clearbags.com, where I bought cardboard backings and plastic sleeves for my artwork, boxes for greeting card sets, and also high quality paper and cards. All of the packaging really dresses up the prints and makes them look professional.
Luckily for me, I was able to utilize a friend's Epson 1400 to print out my artwork, and I'm really happy with the way the prints turned out. So happy with them that I immediately went on out and bought my own used Epson 1400. I also discovered Square, a tool for taking credit card payments with your smartphone, and I'm excited to try it out.
Hopefully we will have a good turnout this weekend. I am really hoping we have some rain before the fair so that we get a few good mushrooms popping up. I have decided that my goal for this show is to sell one piece of artwork. If I can do that, I will consider this a success! Here are the pieces I did for the show, all are watercolor on 300 lb hot press paper:
It rained a couple of weeks ago, and the first mushrooms of the season came out. I decided to have some fun with them and make spore prints. Spore prints are really easy to make. Get some thick paper (I use watercolor paper or card stock) and lay it on a surface that will not get damaged by moisture. Cut off the mushroom's stem so that the cap sits as flat as possible. Lay the mushroom cap gills down on the paper and cover with a cup or tupperware to prevent air from flowing around the cap. If you leave it overnight, the gills will release their spores onto the paper in a beautifully detailed pattern that matches the gills. If you want to keep the spore print, spray it with artist's fixative or I have heard hairspray works well too.
The best print results came from Chroogomphus vinicolor because of the thick gills and dark black spores. These were so beautiful that I made pendants out of them, and hopefully some mushroom lovers will want to buy these at the fair as well. I tried a couple of techniques for making pendants including using resin and Mod Podge "Dimensional Magic". The fastest, easiest, and most successful method was to buy silver pendants at the local art store. They come with a clear adhesive covering, so all I have to do is cut out the spore print, glue it into the pendant, and cover it with the clear cover. I think they turned out pretty well, I've been wearing this one all week.