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4. BioChromes

BioChromes - colour, inspiration, fascination, autumn.

”BioChromes is a naturally occurring substance which imparts colour to the tissues of plants or animals. Plants and animals commonly possess characteristic pigments. They range in plants from those that impart the brilliant hues of many fungi, through those that give rise to the various browns, reds, and greens of species that can synthesize their food from inorganic substances (autotrophs), to the colourful pigments found in the flowers of seed plants.”

A fascinating field that seems to have no end! With each result, you want to try new ideas, recipes, ingredients!


The week began with the follow-up Cecilia Raspanti's lecture on BIOCHROMES Cecilia Raspanti's Fabricademy 2022-23 Week 4 lecture on BIOCHROMES

I continued my research with Internet searches.

It's fantastic! Nature is full of color! What until now I did not realize that it can be useful in creating the beautiful, now I will be able to use in making new clothing outfits- from Onion husks .... at various flowers, everything is around us!

References & Inspiration

In search of inspiration I ended up on Pinterest.

At this moment the thought led me to the carpet that is in my grandmother's House- a traditional Moldavian carpet. The carpet was created by my great -grandmother- from wool processing, colouring, spinning to weaving. For dyeing wool threads Housewives experimented with various plants on their own. For example, to get a khaki colour, they used walnut buds, for an orange or tan colour – onion husks, and green colour can be obtained from nettle. Marigold and saffron flowers are used for yellow colour. For an intense black colour, red wine is used, and blue is due to the plant called cornflower or swallow's dress. To obtain more shades, weavers used mordant, a solution that contributes to strengthening and fixing the colour. As a mordant, weavers used sour borscht, homemade vinegar.


With beautiful memories and being full of inspiration, I started working on getting colors in a natural way/ nature-friendly way.

For this I needed: pot, fabric, yarns, scale, measurement spoons, dyeing material.

Process and workflow


I had at my disposal the following types of natural materials: cotton and linen fabrics; cotton knits, hemp, ortica; wool fibers.

For begin, I prepared the materials for coloring. Scouring is a process in which we clean our fibers. For the vegetable fibers, unbleached cotton and linen, I did this process by using sodium carbonate. For wool I give them into a warm bath. The proportions and process are presented in the following pictures. Cecilia Raspanti's Fabricademy 2022-23 Week 4 lecture on BIOCHROMES


I used Alum as our mordant, and by following the instructions provided to us we prepared the textile for the dyeing process. Cecilia Raspanti's Fabricademy 2022-23 Week 4 lecture on BIOCHROMES

The proportions (quantities): 1 gr Alum:animal fibers (wool) 8gr and 5 gr Alum:44 gr plant fibers (cotton fabrics, linen, knitwear of cotton, hemp and ortica).


For the coloring of cotton fabrics, linen and wool fibers I used Acorns, red beans, red tea with rasberries and paprika.

For coloring knitwear of cotton, hemp and ortica I used Acorns and red beans.

The quantities used are shown in the following picture.

The painting process in the following picture.

The result was amazing! I got some colors from autumn pallete!

In the following pictures you can see the results that I obtained.


For color changes I use 3 different media:

  1. sour juice (prepared from wheat bran, rye or sugar beet fermented in water);

  2. vinegar (100 ml+300 ml watwer);

  3. sodium carbonate (25 gr. Sodium carbonate+300 ml water).

The results obtained are presented in the following images.

I noticed that the most powerful color modifier is Sodium carbonate. In my case, sour juice and vinegar only acting as mordant.


For creating pigments, I used about 300 ml of dye and did the 2 alum to 1 sodium carbonate ratio. First I put in the alum dissolved with hot water and mixed he jar. After that I carefully added the sodium carbonate dissolved with water in the jar. After the "volcano" effect I used a coffee filter to pour the mixture and let everything dry.

For Ink I used honey (ratio 1:1) and water (ratio 3:1).

The pigment and Ink obtained are show in the following picture.


Because I didn't have the opportunity to experiment in our laboratory doing the dye with bacteria, two of my colleague shared their experiences in the Fabricademy Bootcamp 2022 GenevaElena Florea Burduja and Valentina Frunze


As a result, I obtained a library of BioChromes materials.

Last update: 2023-04-19