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4. Biofabricating Dyes and Materials

First, I have to say at the beginning I didn´t understand what we had to do this week. Which product we had to make? as an Industrial Designer I always think in products. When I started to experiment making Bioplastics and Fabric Dyeing using natural elements I started thinking in the actual materials we usually use or the amount of water there is needed to dye the textiles and the possibility to create our own materials and make them sustainable. This opened my mind and now the material itself overtook the importance of just product making . After two days of experimenting I had more and more ideas of new materials. Is so sad we don´t have more time to be deep into it in just one week. So I focused on experimenting with the PH of natural inks with Catherine Euale (we created The Natural Swatches Book because at the end we had many trials and we though to use it as a guide to anyone who wants to get any color but doesn´t know how) and create wood chip bioplastic trying to recycle what is left in the wood product making. Another ideas I have to experiment and document afterwards is bioplastic using a biopolimer thats biodegradable and water soluble. Bioplastic using plastic bags and aluminum bags used for chips packaging.

1. Natural Dyeing

Bacteria Dyeing.

For this we used silk fabric and bacteria Type B named Serratia.

First we fold the silk in different ways. Then we put them in glass pots and then into an special plastic bag to protect it from the process of sterilized them using a pressor cooker. This takes 15 minutes. After this we clean the work space and our hands with alcohol. Pour bacteria food into the fabric to make it eat the most possible so what the bacteria excretes is converted in the ink that will colorize the fabric. To this we used a pipe gas to sterelize the plastic jar that contains the food and dont allowing it to be contaminated. This process must be done fast.

After this, the bacteria must be put it into the fabric. Then leave it for 2 days to design the pattern as it eats and grows.

After 2 days the bacteria must be killed. For this we did: Put the fabric with the bacteria in the pressor cooker for 15' for 3 times using the plastic bag to protect. Separate the fabric from the glass pots and put it again the pressor cooker. Both of them. Wash the fabric.

The result:

Fruits and Vegetables dyeing. Experiment 1.

Learning how to do it:

For this, we used:

  • Natural fabrics
  • Carbonato de Sosa (No bicarbonato de soda)
  • Alum mordant
  • Iron substract
  • Water
  • Fruit peeals and plants

We did the following:

  1. Weight the fabric to dye 38.3 gr.
  2. We added Carbonato de Sosa in a pot of warm water to clean the fabrics for 10 minutes. The amount of water must cover the fabrics to dye. The measure of Carbonato de Sosa is 2 spoon per 4 lt of water.
  3. In other pot we put the same amount of water, waited untill it boiled and added the alum mordant. The mordant should be 15% of the fabric weight. In this case we used 6gr of alum.
  4. After this we added the fabric and leave it for 10 minutes.

We used this water to extract the color from the fruits and plants. In 1 jar I put a full rose flower and in other I used avocado skin with 1 pit. The color of the water from the rose started to be light red. The color from the avocado was light orange. After some time nothing else happened. Then we put the fabrics but it didnt get the color. So I decided to boil it. Now the rose water was dark red an the fabric was getting the color. I put some petals folding the fabric and left it for 40 minutes to dye. When I boiled the avocado water with the peeals and the fabric nothing happened. So I got frustrated. I took the iron substract battle apart (which was next to my table) to throw away the avocado water and when I took the fabric out it turned blue instantly in the spots where my fingers touched it. Then I discovered that iron hepls to get the avocado color by changing the PH. Also using Lemon juice to change the PH into acid of the rose ink water I got Pink and Green.

The results where this:

Fruits and Vegetables dyeing. Experiment 2.

Shibori Technic Dyeing

We bought cotton and cellulose fabrics. We cleaned them with Sosa. Today I used cotton to make a plant composition. I used roses and sunflower petals. beetrout sprouts, eucaliptus and other leafs, and curcuma powder. I fold the fabric in a piece of fabric and tied it with a wool yarn. Then put it in a pot of boiling iron mordant water for 30 minutes. After this the dyed fabric got bright yellow color I think from curcuma and eucaliptus leafs. Not much from the other plants.

I was walking from the lab to the house when I realize the grosellas felt off the packaging. When I was cleaning the mess I took a piece of fabric and it instantly got the color. I thought.. Why not just squeeze the frut directly to the fabric? Maybe we can create patterns using certain amount of lemon or iron over it. Also made me think, the less amount of water the most concentrate ink we can get. So I left the fabric with the fruit over the night and this was the result.

Fruits and Vegetables dyeing. Experiment 3. The Natural Color Swatches Book.

Testing and Modifying the PH´s

Catherine and I wanted to experiment with the PH´s of the inks we get naturally and also the different types of fabrics. We used different ph modifiers ( Soda ash, Alum, Iron sulfate, Copper, Lemon drops) - different fruits or veggies - different fabrics ( Cotton Prepared To Dye - Raw Cotton Linen - Raw Cotton - Silk - Piñatex).

At the end we had a bunch of different colors from every fruit or plant so we decided to create a book. We called it The Natural Color Swatches Book. It is made for every designer or creative who wants to use natural colors on their products with fabric as a guide to find the right hue and the recipe to create it.

How to use the book? Select the color. Identify the fruit or vegetable and PH modifier at the bottom and the fabric on the left.

Then, weight the fabric you want to dye. Depending of this weight use: The approximate meisure of water using 1kg of fabric is 10lts of water. The less amount of water, the stronger is the color.

  • 8% Soda ash
  • 8% Alum
  • 1% Iron sulfate
  • 2% Copper
  • 20 lemon drops per water 250ml water

Preparation: First clean the fabric using 15% of Soda Ash in a pot with warm water enough to cover the textile. Then, in other pot heat the water you measured for the dyeing up to 90º - 95º Celsius. Add the fruit or vegeteable and let it release the color. For Avocado use the peel and the pits. Then add the PH modifier and mix it until the color is homogeneous. Add the fabric and let it as long as posible. When is done, take it out from the water and let it dry it in the shadow. Don´t rinse it with clean water as much time as you can. Even 1 month.

The fabric is ready¡

Ingredients: - Fabrics - Silk - Cotton PPT (Preparado para teñir - Prepared to dye) - Raw Cotton Linen - Raw Cotton - Piñatex

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Blackberry
  • Rose petals
  • Red cabbage
  • Curcuma
  • Blackbeans
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts Shell


Learning how to make bioplastic. Experiment 1.

The basis.

We use this materials: AGAR AGAR 300 mm water 2 gr Agar 3 gr Glycerin

The mechanical properties after dried material is: Elastic as it can come back to its original shape. It is plastic as it can keep the shape it has during the drying proccess. Is malleable before drying being able to give almost any shape and not after dried when it gets rigid. It has low hardness as it can be penetrated easily. Is not so fragile.

The color is opaque or maybe transluscent and has not any smell. Resists much more to be water disolved than gelatin bioplastic. When its been cooked it takes longer preparation than gelatine but dries faster.

GELATIN 250 water and heat it up. 48gr gelatin and add it to the water por gradually. Also 15 gr of glycerin

The mechanical properties after dried the material is: Elastic, plastic, malleable before drying. Has low hardness and is not so fragile. The color is shine and transparent and smelss like raw eggs. The preparation is quicker than Agar but it takes longer time to dry.

Wood Chips Bioplastic. Experiment 2.

Thinking in the idea of recycling. I chose Wood chips because is a material we can always find in every workshop of wood product making. And not something with a wide usefull skills.

I decided to try with Gelatin and Agar Agar. And also with thin wood chips and hard wood chips. I used the basic formula measurements but this time I did add the chips and in order to get a thick material I left the water to evaporate much more than usuall with low fire cooking during the preparation.

This one has gelatin - glycerin - water - hard woodchips.

This one has got Agar - Agar formula. With hard woodchips and less water.

This one is the Agar formula. Less water to make a mass and thin woodchips. Th

This has gelatin formula withh almost nothing of glycerin. It turned so strong.

Bioplastics with natural colors. Experiment 3.

Mixing natural colors with bioplastics was interesting. With gelatin the material worked. But with Agar Agar didn't. I found the waterink must be mixed with the Agar. If not the water added to de Agarmix don't allow it to dry. Is too much water. I used watercolors from rose petals - redcabagge - curcuma and blackberry.

I used gelatin without glycerin pouring it in a thin layer. The result is a hard film drying taking its own shape.