Biochromes Gabriela Lotaif
Final Outcome Bacterial dye Gabriela Lotaif

Red cabbage (Brassica Oleracea Var. Capitata F. Rubra)

Red Cabbage


  • Chop cabbage in strips and place it in the dye pot
  • Cover it all with already hot water
  • Bring water to boil then lower temperature to leave it a low simmer
  • Simmer for 40 minutes or until leaves start losing their natural colour and liquid is deep purple or blue
  • Strain off the cabbage, squeezing it to extract any colour left.
  • You now have purple coloured red cabbage dye!
  • Deep fibers/fabrics in while water when dye is still simmering for 40 min – 1 hr
  • Leave fibers/fabrics inside the water to cool off overnight
  • Dye fibers/fabrics in neutral version, add vinegar and in baking-soda after to see the results.

red cabbage recipes

INFORMATION OF DYE STUFF USED: 2,33 Red cabbages, all bought in Barcelona at mercadona around the 15th of October of 2019.

red cabbages used


Water Ph

Black Beans (Phaseolus Vulgaris)

Black beans


  • Place Black Beans in a pot with water
  • Leave it overnight
  • Sift the beans keeping the water on a recepient that would fit the fabrics.
  • You now have deepmpurple coloured black beans dye!
  • Deep fibers/fabrics in the water and leave them for at least 2 hours. I did two tries, one leaving it for 3 hours and another overnight.

Black beans recipe

INFORMATION OF DYE STUFF USED: 1 Package of Black Beans bough in Barcelona at mercadona on the 13th of October of 2019.


Water Ph


The main mordents usually used are copper, alum and iron. Because copper is very contaminating in Fab Lab Barcelona we chose not to use it.

We decided to go for: * Alum on its own * Alum + Tartar cream * Iron

The mordents need to be weighted in relation to the quatity of fibers/fabric they will be used on in the following proportion:

  • Alum alone: 15% wof (weight of fabric)
  • Alum + Tartar: Only used in animal! 6% of wof
  • Iron: 3% wof

Fiber Preparation

We first separated enough samples of vegetable and animal fibers.

Fibers all separated

Then we weighted the two different kinds, one at a time.


weight of animal and vegetable fibers

Then we divided the animal fibers into 3 equal weight bulks of 16g, each to be treated with one type of mordent (alum, alum+tartar, iron) and the vegetable into 2 bulks of 124,5g, each to be treated with one type of mordent (alum, iron)

We followed to measure the correct percentage of mordent for each bulk and to trat them accordingly. We joined the vegetable and animal bulks that would have iron and the ones that would have alum. We added the mordents to ambient temperature water and we added the fibers inside. We then took it all to the hob and heated both pans until they were boiling and brought the temperatures down to a low simmer, which we left for around 30 minutes each.

Natural Dyeing

At Fab Lab Barcelona all of us students collaborated in order to make as many natural dye recipes as possible. We ended uo managing to do the following:

All done plus tests

  • Black Beans @gabriela.lotaif

  • Red Cabbage @gabriela.lotaif

  • Spinach @lucrecia.strano


  • Onion Peels @amaya.deyavorsky

Onion Peels

  • Chicory @amaya.deyavorsky


  • Rusty Objects @loana.flores

rusty Objects

  • Ecoprint @loana.flores @lucrecia.strano @estefania.cavalie


  • Avocado Peel and Seeds @juanfelipe.enriquez


  • Pomegranate @estefania.cavalie


  • Annato @agnes.costaolive


  • Mushrooms @agnes.costaolive


  • Hibiscus @nico.tando


At the end of it all Hinako, one of the interns at Fabricademy gathered all the dyed samples into a huge bio-textile-pantone:

Biochromes Gabriela Lotaif

Natural Inks

Me and @amaya.deyavorsky made two different types of inks, one for markers and watercolours and another for screen printing.

We chose a colour/dye stuff for each and prepared them with their supposed bases: alcohol for the marker ink and arabic gum for the screen printing one. We ended up not having enough time to test it, though :(


Bacterial Dyeing

Final Outcome Bacterial dye Gabriela Lotaif

The Bacterial Dyeing process was very new to me and I really loved learning it. The idea that another living being will host itself there in your "creation" and give it colour is such food for thought too!

In Fab Lab Barcelona we used the Serratia Marcescens Bacteria, which gives a very strong shade of pink, a colour I don't particularly love, but amazed me of how strong it turned out to be.

  • We begun the process looking at different techniques of dying with the fabric being somehow prepared to receive dye in only some parts of it, such as Shibori, Tie DYE and Batique you can find a summary of them via this link

  • The fabric we had was a viscose fiber one. We tied it each in our own way, with the fabric dry as it was.

  • It looked like this:

Shibori Bacteria Dyed fabric Gabriela Lotaif

  • Then we divided each fabric in one petri dish, as mine was a bit thicker once folded as well as the ones made by @loana.flores and @amaya.deyavorsky we all shared a bigger Petri dish.

Petri Dish Gabriela Lotaif Loana Flores and Amaya De Yavorsky

  • We followed to sterilize the ambient following Jessica Dias's lead (the BioLab intern in Fab Lab Barcelona).
  • We cleaned the tables very thoroughly with alcohol
  • We placed the camping gas in the centre of the table and turned it on
  • We spread alcohol around it on the table

Steril environment for bacterial dye - homemade

  • We then sterelized the petri dishes. We placed them all closed in a heat-friendly plastic bag and put it on the pressure cooker for 15 to be sterelized. We left the Petri bag folded very openl;y only to make it fit so that the vapour would reach all the fabrics.

Heat-friendly bag and pressure cooker

  • Once we had steril petri dishes with the fabrics we put them in the steril environment we crafted.

  • Each on their turn, we cleaned our hands with a lot of alcohol and did our own Bacteria placing:

  • I cleaned my hands with a lot of alcohol (we decided not to wear plastic gloves near the fire)
  • I very opened the bottle with the LB Broth (liquid that feeds the bacteria for it to grow), very closely to the fire and placed the lid on the table The recipe for LB Broth and for Nutrient Agar are here bellow. We used LB Broth as we needed a liquid mean and agar is solid.


  • I held the bottle with one hand and the other very slightly opened my fabric's petri dish's lid so I could put some of LB Broth in it

  • I closed my fabric's petri dish's lid and brought the bottle back near the fire, as well as its lid to close it steril
  • I very slightly opened the lid of the petri dish with the bacteria and took the Innoculation Loop, which which I gently took a very little bit of it in order to place it on my fabric petri dish
  • I closed the bateria's petri dish lid and slightly opened my fabric's one, only enough to insert the Innoculation Loop and gently touch the fabric with it, placing the bacteria there
  • I repeated this process 2 more times.

Gabriela Lotaif dyeing with bacteria

  • We then sealed the petri dishes with the bacteria placed on the fabric and put it inside the incubator (a little fridge that keeps the bacteria in 25º temperature)

Incubator for bacteria

  • We left the bacteria there for 3/4 days

  • We took the bacteria from the incubator, unsealed the petri dishes, placed them back into the heat-friendly bag and put it on the pressure cooker for 25/30 to kill the bacteria.

  • I took my fabric, rinsed it in cold water and opened it:

Step by step opening bacteria dyed fabric Gabriela Lotaif

Here is everyone else's that open at the same time as me: Everyone's bacterial dye