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October 11th, 2022

Cecilia Raspanti

The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world, in which one the most environmentally disastrous processes is the dyeing of fibers and textiles of the clothes we wear. Chemicals are released daily in rivers and nature destroying the environment around us to satisfy the colour demands that we create as designers, industry and consumers. Very few options are being explored in this fast changing fashion, clothing and textile industry, and the list of chemical treatments is only expanding.

This class will focus on exploring colouring alternatives to the current ones. Bridging craftsmanship techniques and technology, to explore alternative colour sources and their processing. Ranging from plant based, insect base and bacteria based pigments.

Program outline#

  • Overview and context: BioChromes

  • Dyes: Natural & bacterial

  • Base materials, animal fibers and vegetable fibers
  • Mordants
  • Color modifiers
  • Dyes from roots, leaves, flowers - recipes

    • madder
    • campeche
    • hibiscus
    • turmeric
    • alkanet
    • et c
  • Dyes from pigmented bacteria

    • overview
    • inspirational projects
    • recipes
    • instruction videos
  • Inks: botanical

    • Supports
    • Mordants
    • Color modifiers
    • Stabilizers


  • natural dyes:

    • madder root
    • alkanet roots
    • turmeric roots powder
    • hibiscus flowers
    • onion peels
    • campeche wood
    • weld plant
    • annatto seeds
    • mordants/scouring agents:
      • alum & cream of tartar
      • copper liquor - copper pipes+vinegar or in crystals form
      • iron liquor - rusty irons+vinegar or in crystals form
      • Na2Co3 (sodium carbonate)
    • ph modifiers
      • acids: vinegar, lemon
      • base: sodium carbonate
  • Bacterial dyes

  • janthinobacterium lividum

  • Serratia (bio safety lvl 2) - ONLY if you have a biolab environment and are prepared to use biosafety lvl 2 organisms
  • micrococcus luteus
  • LB Broth & Nutrient agar
  • animal fibers/textiles
  • wool, silk, camel hair, angora
  • vegetable fibers/textiles
  • cotton, linen, hemp, ramie *

  • Inks

  • arabic gum
  • salt
  • ethanol 96%
  • pipettes
  • natural dyes and bacteria

Weekly Assignment#

Visit the handbook to see the assignment criteria for this class.






Previous years videos#









Lecture Biochromes#

Review Biochromes#


Lecture Biofabricating Dyes and Materials#

Review Biofabricating Dyes and Materials#