Experimenting with moss graffiti

Photo: Moss graffiti on East Street.
Moss Graffiti
Moss graffiti on East Street.

In a fitting pairing of medium and message, East Street resident Kit Burroughs has honored the words of American poet Robert Frost with a bit of green graffiti: instead of using spray paint to spell out Frost’s words along a wall outside her house, Burroughs used a homemade paint made of moss.


The moss graffiti, as it’s commonly known, recently caught Burroughs’ eye on the Internet, and, with a giant slab of cement out in front of her house, she decided to take advantage of her opportunity to try it out.

Moss graffiti isn’t difficult to pull off, Burroughs said, and takes only a few ingredients. If applied correctly, and tended to over the first few weeks, the moss should remain alive and continue to grow over time.

Here’s a quick tutorial.

• Gather a few handfuls of moss and carefully wash off the dirt.

• Break the moss into chunks and put it in a blender along with a cup of buttermilk, a cup of water and a teaspoon of sugar. Blend until the mixture reaches a paint-like consistency, adding corn syrup to thicken it, or water to thin it, if necessary.

• Paint the moss on your chosen outdoor surface with a paint brush. Reapply over the next few days or weeks as needed.

Moss needs moisture to grow, so on sunny days like the ones we’ve been seeing in Juneau recently, the moss should be sprayed with water regularly to keep it damp. Lime juice can be used to kill the moss if it’s no longer wanted, or to delineate clear areas of the design.

Burroughs said she chose the quote -- “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,” from Frost’s poem “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” -- because it seemed apt for the location of her downtown house, which is backed by the steep green slopes of Mount Maria and Mount Roberts.

Burroughs outlined her design in chalk first before applying the moss paint with a paintbrush. Stencils are another option. Alternatively, some moss graffiti artists apply the moss paint to a broad area and then sculpt it with a knife or power washer, like this artist from Belgium, Stefaan De Croock, known as Strook: inhabitat.com/strooks-reverse-moss-graffiti-mural-emerges-from-a-wall-of-the-stuk-arts-centre-in-belgium.

For more inspiration, check out the work of British designer Anna Garforth: inhabitat.com/anna-garforths-phenomenal-green-graffiti-art-is-made-out-of-moss.

To check out Burroughs’ work, visit East Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets downtown.


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