The amadou mushroom material is a great alternative to leather, and it can even be used to make a unique and stylish mushroom hat.
The amadou mushroom hat has been surging in popularity in recent years with mycologist and author Paul Stamets wearing the stylish mushroom hat in interviews and videos.
If you envy Stamets’ hat, don’t worry, because it turns out that there is a community of artisans, craftsmen, and mushroom enthusiasts who meticulously craft these beautiful amadou mushroom hats.
The amadou material is derived from Fomes fomentarius, which grows on the back of coniferous and angiosperm trees. The mushroom has also been referred to as tinder fungus and hoof fungus. The fungus turned into a felt-like material, which can be used to make purses, wallets, and of course, hats.
To turn the fungus into usable felts, the mushrooms are dried and pressed into sheets and then glued together, according to Amadou Hats. The feel of the felt has been described as similar to a soft red deer suede.
But the history behind this fungus goes much father back than trendy shops and mycologists.
The discovery of Ötzi the Iceman, a well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived 5,000 years ago, proves that ancient people used amadou.
According to Wikipedia:
The fungus is known to have been used as a firestarter in Hedeby, and it is known that the fungus was used as early as 3000 BCE. When found, the 5,000-year-old Ötzi the Iceman was carrying four pieces of F. fomentarius fruit body. Chemical tests led to the conclusion that he carried it for use as tinder.
And since Otzi the Iceman, Fomes fomentarius has been used by Romanians to make amadou pelts.
Traditionally, Romanian artisans have collected the fungus from old beech and birch trees, which requires a minimum altitude of 1,500 meters and at least two years of growth time.
After the material has been soaked in hot water and trimmed with a knife, the amadou is stretched by hand. If they’re crafting a mushroom hat, the amadou pelt is pulled onto a wood mold to create the hat shape.
The difficult process for creating these hats definitely pays off because they look amazing and stylish.