Cloud silk is a natural material created from the mycelium of the cloud parasol mushroom. In most species of fungus, mycelium is primarily found only in the substrate, and visible mycelium above the surface is a sign of disease or poor growing conditions. The cloud parasol also forms strands of its thin, hair-like white mycelium across its entire structure, often intertwining with that of nearby cloud parasols. These strands of "silk" can then be spun by certain shapers or through more traditional methods into textiles or other functional items.
Substrate SilkThe most desirable cloud silk is that taken from the caps of paired cloud parasols, known to be stronger and easily taking most dyes evenly. However, this is only a small percentage of the mycelium produced by the mushrooms, the remainder growing underground in the substrate. This substrate mycelium can also be crafted into silk, but requires several more steps to remove all trace of the substrate. The resulting silk is not as naturally durable, but can be refined through shaping to get nearly the same amount of elasticity and strength as that gathered from the caps. Substrate silk is also more of a dull grey color, and dyes applied to the silk are muted slightly too. The composition of the substrate is also a factor, as certain minerals can further discolor or alter the formation of the underground silk produced.
Lab-Grown SilkThrough precise control of the temperature, humidity, and composition of the substrate, it is now possible to grow larger quantities of high-quality silk without environmental contamination as a factor. Rather than relying on naturally paired cloud parasols that are close enough to form silk in the wild, they may be planted in an engineered substrate in pairs and harvested long term. Shapers are also able to affect the growth of the silk as it occurs, vastly increasing yields and making for stronger base silk before processing begins. In addition, the development of "clean" substrate allows for the harvesting of all the mycelium from a mushroom without loss of utility. Substrate mycelium farmed using this engineered substrate can match the wild cap-silk in strength and color.
Pale Ache and the MycocephsThe skin condition known as pale ache is caused by the cloud parasol mushroom, through skin contact with the caps or spores. By using gloves, pale ache can be easily avoided in most situations. Cloud silk does not carry the pathogen that causes pale ache, and products made from this versatile material are in no way dangerous to their users. A Nommo that has been infected by pale ache will become a Mycoceph on death. While a mycoceph is directly connected to the cloud parasol mushroom by way of infection, the mycelium they produce is mutated, weak, and fragile. The consistency is that of cobwebs, and it is effectively dead material. It cannot be shaped into anything useful, which is fortunate because of the dangers that would be involved with trying to harvest silk from these aggressive creatures.