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Moss graffiti - Carly Schmitt

Crafting Break: Moss Graffiti

Whether you want to give your yard an enchanting edge or just make the neighborhood gardeners green with envy, moss graffiti is a decorative edition to any outdoor space. There are several ways to go about cultivating this unique craft project.

The moss graffiti craze on Pinterest is largely based on the exceptional moss typography art of Anna Garforth. Anna is a London-based artist who creates sheets of moss which she then cuts into precise shapes and letters for her installments.

Anna began experimenting with moss as an artistic medium after being inspired by the moss covered script adorning tombstones in Abney Park Cemetery (DesignBoom). The term “moss graffiti” was later popularized when her work began showing up on the internet.

 

Moss Graffiti craft

 

The DIY instructions found online for creating your own living moss graffiti tend to fall into two distinct camps. The “blended” or milkshake method creates cell-rich moss paint that will slowly regrow into a full plant in the right conditions.

For quicker, more predictable results, Instructables user batery99 developed another method that transplants mature moss directly onto a prepared surface. Depending on how much time and effort you’re willing to put in (as well as your local weather conditions), moss graffiti could just the natural accent needed to charm your own entourage of woodland creatures.

 

Materials Needed:

2 large clumps of moss (or more)

Blended Method:

2 cups buttermilk

½ teaspoon of sugar

2 cups of water or beer

Corn syrup (as needed)

Bucket or bowl

Paintbrush

Blender

Transplant Method:

Liquid fertilizer

Water

Starch, gelatin or agar-agar

Cotton

Soil

Non-water soluble adhesive (epoxy)
 

Step 1: Collect and clean the moss

If you’re lucky enough to live in a moderately cool and humid area, you’ve probably seen plenty of local mosses growing on nearby rocks or topsoil. These can be harvested and rinsed to remove dirt and particulates.

If you’re planning to blend the moss, go ahead and break the clumps apart into even smaller pieces so you don’t ruin your blender. Otherwise attempt to keep the moss plant as intact as possible while harvesting and rinsing it.

If your climate is too arid or hot for moss to grow naturally you can purchase live moss online. Just remember that it will require additional watering and care to stay alive in a non-native environment.

 

Moss Graffiti Collection
 

Step 2: Mix the materials

Here’s where the directions drastically vary depending on the method you’ve chosen. If you want to be able to paint and grow your creation, grab a blender. Place the washed and broken up moss inside with the buttermilk, water and sugar.

Hit that blend button and watch as it all becomes a gray-green muck. When it’s mixed. go ahead and dip a paint brush in to test the consistency. Ideally it will behave much like regular paint, with just the right amount of liquid and thickness to apply on your intended canvas.

If the mixture feels too runny, you can add some corn syrup and mix again. This should give you the desired viscosity, but if you accidentally go overboard, you can always add more water to thin it out and try again. Once you’re satisfied with the result, pour the mixture into your paint bucket or bowl.

If you’re going to be transplanting unblended moss, go ahead and mix the soil with liquid fertilizer. Add some starch (agar-agar is recommended) to create a paste-like substance.

 

Moss Milkshake

 

Step 3: Prepping the canvas

To get the most out of your project you’ll want to select a porous surface that will remain moist either through daily watering or natural humidity. While moss does require some amount of sunlight to grow, you don’t want a spot that gets too much light or the plant will quickly dry out and die.

Once you’ve found a good spot go ahead and trace the outline of your desired design. If you’re looking for some inspiration, DecoArt has adorable fairy stencils that would look amazing. (Seriously, send me a picture if you make one.)

If you’re planning to transplant, cover the area with adhesive before quickly applying clumps of cotton. Now apply your soil paste on the cotton until it’s about half a centimeter thick. This will give the moss room to take root.

 

Transplant Moss
 

Step 4: Moss It Up

After you’ve drafted your design, you can begin painting the area with your moss milkshake. Store excess mixture in the refrigerator so you can apply additional coats as needed over the next few days. Don’t use a paint sprayer to apply the mixture since this is considerably harsher on the moss and doesn’t allow it to take root as readily.

Transplanters, go ahead and trim your moss to fit with the shapes of your pattern. You may need to combine several smaller pieces to complete the full area. The moss should stick directly to the soil paste.

Step 5: Keeping it real (moist)

The first several weeks are crucial for your moss art to really thrive. You’ll probably want to spritz it with a water bottle daily as the moss takes root. Above all, do not let the area dry out or get too much sunlight since this will kill the plant. Once the design begins to grow you’ll need to trim it regularly to keep its shape.

 

Finished Moss Design

 

If you aren’t able to commit to the somewhat extensive cultivation of live moss graffiti, you can always buy preserved moss sheets instead. You can cut and apply these sheets to nearly any surface for a quick and fun temporary arrangement.

Just the thing to bring a little extra magic to your garden.

 

Header image by Carly Carly Schmitt.

Joanna Mueller

Joanna Mueller

A self-proclaimed nerd culture connoisseur, Joanna has an affinity for off-beat indie games with story-driven narratives. When she’s not writing about imaginary worlds, she spends a fair amount of time crafting trinkets from them. You can find more of her work at Cliqist.com.
Joanna Mueller

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