Moss graffiti, also called living, green or eco-friendly graffiti is a new take on guerilla gardening, which utilises living plants to convey messages in the form of words, pictures, and other shapes. This is the latest hype in urban landscapes, adorning walls along streets and private and public buildings. Moss graffiti add a needed touch of green to urban landscapes and are a much more environmentally sound way of artistic expression than spray paint graffiti.
What is Moss Graffiti
Long gone are the days when graffiti were considered a mere act of vandalism or an “eyesore.” Street art has established itself as a legitimate form of art, which has received the nod of the art community and is welcomed to bring colour to dull cityscapes. And it now has a green touch to it as well in the form of moss graffiti. Green graffiti and reverse graffiti convey messages and trigger emotional reactions in the same way as traditional spray paint street art, but do so without harming the buildings in any way.
How to Make Your Own Moss Graffiti
Last week we showed you how to make your own vertical garden and today we’ll take a look at another scaled-down and easier way to green up your property. If you want to liven up a wall of your property or you have permission to do green graffiti in an area of your neighbourhood, here are some pointers to get you started on making your own moss graffiti.
Not your typical DIY project, moss graffiti will let you both make something creative and also unleash your inner rebel. So, forget your pastel clothes and carefully arranged supplies, now’s you chance to be naughty and make a fuzzy statement. Before you spell out ACAB on your wall, though, make sure you’re familiar with the graffiti regulations in your area, as graffiti might still be a violation.
Choose the Right Spot for Your Moss Graffiti
You will need to find a spot which is not exposed to direct sunlight. In all technicality, moss is a plant, which means it will need some supply of sunlight. If you decide to grow it on an internal wall which is not supplied with natural light, you will need a couple of light bulbs to simulate the effect of sunlight. Don’t confuse the moss graffiti with the moss tiles you can buy – they are made of lichens, not moss, and do not require sunlight or fertilising.
If you’re taking your moss graffiti outdoors, choose a place that is not basking in the sunshine all day long to sync better with the natural habitat of moss – you know it thrives best in shady moist places where hardly any other plant will propagate. Typically, a north facing wall will do best. The material on which you will display your moss graffiti project has to be porous to allow the moss to establish itself, even if it doesn’t develop a root system. We do not recommend brick walls as they need to be as least exposed to moisture as possible, and the watering you will have to do as part of the moss graffiti maintenance will affect them badly.
How to Prepare Moss Paint
To stir up your own moss mixtures, you will need:
- 3 cups of clean moss;
- 2 cups plain yogurt or buttermilk;
- 2 cups water (or beer);
- 1-2 tsp of sugar;
- optional: a dollop of corn syrup.
You can either collect the moss from your garden or any other place you can find, or buy some. Wash as much of the soil and plant matter off the moss as possible and place the broken clumps in a blender (preferably, an old one). Then add the sugar and the buttermilk or yogurt. Blend to a thick consistency. Add some water if it gets too sticky. You can replace the sugar with a water-retention gel, which you can find in gardening stores, to give the mixture a thick, gel-like consistency, making it easy to apply and help the moss graffiti stick to wood and brick. Pour the mixture into a container with a lid.
Painting the Moss Graffiti
The moss mixture can be spread in any possible pattern you wish to express your artistic vision. You can either freehand some words or shapes or, if you’re not feeling confident enough in your artistic skill, use a stencil. This is art, not a put-together recycled DIY. It has to be neat, easy to read, and visually pleasing. Think about it as a gallery piece. Yes, yes, we know some of the contemporary art exhibits that get sold for millions are not something you’d hang your old rusty hoe on, but we mean real art. We’re going for an aesthetic appeal, not a pretentious interpretation of the oppressive norms of society and, the beauty of birth, the ominosity of life, or the solitude of death enacted by sticks and fruit. We just want an inspiring word up there on our wall, all nice and green and neat.
Once you have your stencil or freehand chalked, strap on your apron, don a scarf or a barrette, take a few steps back, do that proportion-measuring thing with your hands in a rectangle form, or hold your brush, squinting, acting like you got this. Or, just grab a paintbrush and spread the moss mixture to fill the chalk outline. Like an oversized colouring book! If you have some mixture left, store it in the fridge for reapplying.
Alternatively, you can try reverse graffiti – let the moss establish over the entire wall and use a dull knife or jet wash to carve the graffiti out of it.
Moss Graffiti Maintenance
Apply new layers of the moss mixture every second day and on the alternative day, spray the area with water. Keep in mind that, as with any other living plant, moss graffiti can be a hit or miss, depending on the climate of your area and weather conditions. Usually, the most appropriate time to put up a moss graffiti would be spring or autumn, when the air is moist enough to reduce misting or applying a new coat of moss paint to once a week. Make sure the moss graffiti stays moist so it can get established, grow, and thrive.
Removing Moss Graffiti
Hard to believe anyone could bored with the refreshing appeal of green graffiti, but if for any reason you decide to remove a moss graffiti piece, spray the entire surface with lime juice. It will remove the moss completely from any type of growing surface you’ve used.