Jelly fabric is the name commonly used by fashion brands to describe bags and shoes that are made of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material. They are usually transparent, very flexible and ressemble rubber or plastic. Even though this material can be recycled, it is fossil fuel based and its production and incorrect end of life destination can result in the release of dangerous toxins. The material has been subject of intense debate over the past decades leading to many brands and governments banning or restricting its use.

This bioplastic recipe combines Gelatine, Glycerol and Water only, the final look and feel of PVC Jelly material can be achieved. BioJelly material can be colored with many different natural dyes and additives to its base recipe, serving as an alternative for bags, shoes and other accessories.

For Ephemeral Fashion Lab project I made 3 variants of this recipe, Logwood, Avocado and Mate Tea. The main recipe and pictures will show the Logwood process and the other ones are described on variations section.

This recipe is an adaptation of the BioSilicone Recipe by Loes Bogers and Cecilia Raspanti, also the recipe template was developped by Loes Bogers, as a part of her final project in Fabricademy 2019/2020.

Physical form


Color without additives: transparent yellow

Fabrication time

Preparation time: 2 Hours (time really depends on the recipe’s total amount)

Processing time: 7 days

Need attention: every 12 hours, check if it’s drying properly, not molding or bending.

Final form achieved after: 10 days


Approx. 1400 ml.

I usually assume that 20% of the water evaporates during the cooking time, but this really changes based on how much stirring or how long you leave the mixture on the heat. The longer you simmer, the more water will evaporate, which means less shrinkage during the drying process.

Estimated cost (consumables)




  • Gelatine Powder
    • Amount: 320 gr
    • Functions as the polymeer (so it becomes a solid)
  • Glycerine
    • Amount: 216 gr
    • Functions as plasticizer that bonds with the gelatine (makes it flexible).
  • Water mixed with Logwood Dye
    • Amount: 1600 ml/gr
    • To dissolve and mix the polymer and plasticizer
    • Gelatine / Glycerine = 1,5
    • Water / Gelatine = 0,2

preparationRecipe mise en place, by Beatriz Sandini, 2020

Logwood Dye (aka Campeche)

The dye logwood is extracted from the heartwood of logwood trees (Haematoxylum or Haematoxylon campechianum) that come from Central America. Logwood dye was introduced into Europe by the late 1500s in the form of logs, hence its common name. Logwood’s main use is for dyeing textiles and leather, but it is also used to produce the stain haematoxylin for microscopic slides.

The dye recipe was made based on Cecilia Raspanti material from Fabricademy 2019, during the Biochromes week.

Logwood dye recipe:

  • To make a dye bath from logwood chips, first pour boiling water over the chips and leave them to soak for at least 4 hours.
  • Then add enough water to make the dye bath and simmer the wood chips for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Strain off the dye liquid and use this for the first dye bath.
  • For my recipe I added copper liquor as color modifier and had a deep indigo blue color.


  1. Cooker or stove
    • Is this tool optional? No
  2. Pot & Spoon
    • Is this tool optional? No
  3. Scale
    • Is this tool optional? No
  4. Casting Sheet
    • Is this tool optional? No
    • I used both acrylic and glass as a casting surface, with a border made of acrylic stripes of 3mm. The acrylic thickness should be higher than 5mm to avoid bending while casting.
  5. PH stripes
    • Is this tool optional? Yes, good when using natural dyes


  1. Preparation

    • Weigh your ingredients
    • Clean the sheet where you are casting and find a place where you can leave it for a while, ideally near an open window where there's air flow
  2. Mixing and dissolving the ingredients

    • Mix the natural dye with water to acheive the total water amount
    • Bring the water to the stove
    • Add the gelatine, wait for it to dissolve completely
    • Add the glycerine
  3. Cooking the ingredients

    • Simmer and slowly stir the mixture between 60-80 degrees celsius for 50-60 minutes, until it's like a syrup
    • Bubbles and foam: the bigger the recipe the more foam you will get, so I realize it’s pretty much inevitable when making big sheets. After simmering for about 20 minutes you can start removing this foam, with the help of a big spoon or with a (not so sustainable but very effective) plastic bag method. It consists in getting a piece of plastic (I used some leftover from food packaging) and gently let it touch the upper surface of your mixture, remove it in seconds and you will see that most of the foam is glued to your plastic. I tried this method with cooking paper, but it wasn’t so successful
    • Longer cooking time allows more water to evaporate and as a result it will shrink less during drying. Make sure it's still liquid enough to pour
  4. Colour observation for the logwood dye on this recipe

    • When I started cooking the color changed for a deep ocean blue/green, I assumed this would happen because the dye was deep blue and the gelatine yellowish.
    • However after 20 minutes of cooking the color shiffted to green/brownish, so I tested how it reacted when adding some soda ash. The color changed to a beautifull deep purple, so I thought that would look better than brownish.
    • I added 3 teaspoons of soda ash.
  5. Casting

    • When casting big sheets, you need to be somehow fast in pouring the mixture in order to make sure you are covering all the surface and maybe some places will require you to drag the liquid into, you can do that with a wooden stick or a squeegee. Maybe some air bubbles will come out, while the liquid is still hot, you can pop these bubbles by just poking them with something sharp
    • After about 30 minutes you can moove the mold to dry in a cool place with lots of air flow (like near an open window). A warmer place might speed up the drying process but also allow bacteria to grow faster and can result in fungal growth. Avoid direct sunlight as the gelatine can also get more sticky

Drying/curing/growth process

  • Mold depth: 3 mm
  • Mold size: aprox 94 x 60 cm
  • Shrinkage thickness: 30% (after dry material thickness was between 0,6-1 mm)
  • Shrinkage width/length: 10% (final sheet size 78x56 cm)
  • After one day of drying the color changed back to brown, so it seems that adding the soda ash didn't make much of a difference here.

Shrinkage and deformation control

Letting it dry up to ten days to get to the final form. It will be very flexible at first but will slowly harden. The longer in the mold, less deformation the final material will have.

When casting on acrylic surfaces the material can be easily peeled off even when totally dry. However casting on glass can be harder to remove, specially if the final thickness is less than 1mm, in this case I recommend peeling off the material after 2 or 3 days drying and then leave it to dry on top of baking paper.

Curing agents and release agents


Minimum wait time before releasing from mold

3 days (but also depends on the thickness of the material, thinner will take less time to dry)


Store in a dry and ventilated room. If you need to move the sheet around, I suggest to place baking paper on both sides and roll it.

Further research needed on drying/curing/growth?

The material itself has proven to be very resistant, flexible and durable when stored in dry and mild temperature places.

In smaller sheets I have tested rubbing beeswax on the surface, it makes it matte but very waterproof. There is still room for development on how to do this effectively, but I believe to be an excellent solution for the water sensitivity of this material.

Process pictures

Pouring in the gelatine, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

ph-reader01checking the ph before adding soda, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

soda-ashadded 3 spoons of soda ash on attempt to change the color to purple, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

Adding a bit of soda ash some minutes before casting, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

ph-reader02checking the ph after adding soda, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

castingGlass sheet after casted, Beatriz Sandini, 2020



  • Gelatine Powder
    • Amount: 180 gr
  • Glycerine
    • Amount: 130 gr
  • Water & avocado dye
    • Amount: 900 ml
  • Avocado seeds blended
    • Amount: 50 gr
  • Soda ash
    • Amount: 3 pinches to keep ph arround 8

The preparation follows the same steps as the main recipe.

Drying/curing/growth process
  • Mold depth: 3 mm
  • Mold size: 72 x 48 cm
  • Shrinkage thickness: 30% (after dry material thickness was between 0,6-1 mm)
  • Shrinkage width/length: 10% (final sheet size 68 x 45 cm)
Process pictures

avocado seedsAvocado seeds after blending, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

avocado-dye-phChecking PH of avocado dye, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

Before and after removing the foam. Left side is with 30 minutes cooking and right side is with 60 minutes cooking, syrup like texture and ready to cast, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

sheet-castedCasted sheet, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

Material just removed from mold, after 3 full days drying, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

Mate Tea

  • Gelatine powder
    • Amount: 240 gr
  • Glycerine
    • Amount: 174 gr
  • Water & mate tea
    • Amount: 1200 ml
  • Mate tea leaves
    • Amount: 6 gr to make the tea, but used about half of the leftover leaves in the recipe

The preparation follows the same steps as the main recipe.

Drying/curing/growth process
  • Mold depth: 3 mm
  • Mold size: aprox 94 x 60 cm
  • Shrinkage thickness: 30% (after dry material thickness was between 0,5-1 mm)
  • Shrinkage width/length: 10%
Process pictures

Mate Leão, brazilian famous mate tea, Beatriz Sandini, 2020 Tea, before adding water, Beatriz Sandini, 2020

add video Syrup like consistency, before casting, Beatriz Sandini, 2020


Cultural origins of this recipe

Bioplastic production is older than petroleum-based plastics. In 1500 BC, people in Egypt were already using glues based on gelatin, casein and albumin for furniture constructions. Gelatin casting as a technique has also been used in production of jelly-based foods such as aspic, jelly desserts and candy. Plastics are man-made polymers that can be produced with petrol-based compounds but also biomass. The process to create them is called polymerization, or the chemical reaction to form polymer chains or networks. In 1862 Alexander Parkes presented Parkesine (now celluloid, an organic thermoformable material made from cellulose). In 1907, Bakelite was introduced by chemist Leo Hendrik Baekland. Bakelite is an electrical insulator and was used in electrical appliances, once formed, it could not be melted. Baekland coined the term "plastics" to describe a new category of materials. PVC (short for polyvinyl chloride was patented in 1914 (around the same time cellophane was discovered). The use of petroleum was easier and cheaper to obtain and process than raw materials like wood, glass and metal and gained in popularity after World War II. More plastics were invented and became mainstream in the 1960s thanks to its ease and low cost of production. High tech plastics continued to be developed for health care and technology since the 1970s. In short: not all plastics are petrol-based. Henry Ford experimented with plastics made from soya beans as early as 1941. Common plastics like celluloid and PLA - are also biobased but are not necessarily better in terms of reducing pollution: The time and conditions they require to decompose and be reabsorbed in nature are crucial in determining how sustainable plastics are. On open-source bioplastics: open-source documenting of how to make bioplastics with simple tools and locally available materials can be attributed to Miriam Ribul and her publication on Material Activism from 2014. Promoting collaborative production of alternatives for petroleum-based plastic, she demonstrated 20(!) known processes for material production using only 4 simple recipes. Juliette Pépin's visual research book on bioplastics (also from 2014), goes in depth into the sensory and visual aspects of simple recipes with many variations. Although bioplastics production is certainly a craft that is dispersed across many locations and times, leaving traces of many similar recipes behind, this type of cataloguing and sharing work is certainly indebted to these two pioneers.

This section is attributed to Loes research and documentation

Needs further research?

Further research on the end of life cycle is needed. Better understand the timing and ideal conditions for composting.

Key Sources

Biosilicone Recipe by Cecilia Raspanti (TextileLab, Waag), Fabricademy Class "Biofabricating Materials", 2017-2019, link.

Recipes are published under a CC Attribution Non-commercial licence.


Needs further research.

Gelatin is an animal-based ingredient. Some might find it problematic to use resources that require killing an animal because of religious or animal welfare beliefs. Arguments are also made that as long as there's a meat industry, it is better to use product from the entire animal, including skin and bones. Some might consider gelatin to be a product that comes from a waste stream, but this is considered controversial by others. Acrylic (for the mold) is a petroleum based plastic but results in very shiny foils and sheets and can be reused endlessly for casting high quality bioplastic sheets. Using renewable ingredients is not by definition petrol-free. Imagine they have to travel long distances by plane, boat or truck: it takes fuel. Also, the effects of GMO technologies and pesticides can be harmful to the environment and it's worth using knowing the source and production standards involved. If you can afford it, buying organic ingredients is a good starting point.

This section is attributed to Loes research and documentation

Sustainability tags

  • Renewable: yes
  • Vegan: no
  • Made of by-products or waste: no
  • Biocompostable: yes, ideally in a home composting bin. Timing still to be further understood.
  • Re-usable: yes, by melting and recasting

Needs further research?: Not sure

Gelatine-based bioplastics can be recasted by melting them in a pot with some water (but plastics with additives and fillers might not be reusable). Should not be recycled as part of PET-plastics waste: this causes contamination of the waste stream. Compost bioplastics in a warm environment with sufficient airflow.


  • Strength: strong
  • Hardness: flexible
  • Transparency: transparent
  • Glossiness: glossy
  • Weight: medium
  • Structure: closed
  • Texture: smooth
  • Temperature: cool
  • Shape memory: medium
  • Odor: moderate in final form, strong during production. While cooking I classified the smell as “puppy pee”. When laser cutting, it also stinks a lot, it takes some weeks for the burnt smell to go away.
  • Stickiness: medium
  • Weather resistance: poor
  • Acoustic properties: needs further research
  • Anti-bacterial: needs further research
  • Non-allergenic: needs further research
  • Electrical properties: needs further research
  • Heat resistance: low
  • Water resistance: low
  • Chemical resistance: needs further research
  • Scratch resistance: moderate/high
  • Surface friction: sliding/medium/braking/variable
  • Color modifiers: varied according to each variation.


Maker(s) of this sample

  • Name: Beatriz Sandini
  • Affiliation: Fabricademy student at Waag Textile Lab Amsterdam
  • Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Date: 20-01-2020 – 01-03-2020

Environmental conditions

Outside temp: 5-11 degrees Celsius Room temp: 18 – 22 degrees Celsius PH tap water: 7-8

Recipe validation

Has the recipe been validated? Yes, by Cecilia Raspanti, TextileLab, Waag Amsterdam, 9 March 2020

Images of the final sample, variations & final product

logwoodLogwood BioJelly sheet, Beatriz Sandini, 2020





  • Biosilicone Recipe by Cecilia Raspanti (TextileLab, Waag), Fabricademy Class "Biofabricating Materials", 2017-2019, link
  • The Secrets of Bioplastic by Clara Davis (Fabtex, IAAC, Fab Lab Barcelona), 2017, link
  • The Bioplastics Cookbook: A Catalogue of Bioplastics Recipes by Margaret Dunne for Fabtextiles, 2018, link
  • Recipes for Material Activism by Miriam Ribul, 2014, via issuu link
  • Polymerization, on Wikipedia, n.d.: link
  • Lifecycle of a Plastic Product by American Chemistry Council, n.d. link
  • Research Book Bioplastics by Juliette Pepin, 2014, via issuu link
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (C2H3Cl)n, by GreenSpec, n.d., link
  • PVC: The Poison Plastic by Greenpeace, 2003, link