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Class 4 Biofabricating dyes & materials#

Global Instructor: 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 material and colouring alternatives to the current ones. Ranging from natural dyes, using pigments and bacteria, to material biofabrication. Local recipes of DIY materials

Program outline

  • Overview and context
  • Natural dyes & bacterial dyes
  • Dyes from roots, leaves, flowers
  • madder
  • hibiscus
  • turmeric
  • alkanet
  • Dyes from pigmented bacteria
  • Base materials, animal fibers and vegetable fibers
  • Bio textiles and materials
  • kombucha
  • fish skin leather
  • mushroom leather
  • pineapple fibre textile
  • shrimp cell
  • bioplastics


  • 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

  • bio -plastics -resins -silicones

  • gelatine
  • starch
  • glycerine
  • water
  • vinegar
  • pigments


The students can work in group, identifying tasks and splitting them, as long as they all proof they are able to carry out each task. They can choose to:

  • Produce at least one natural dye, modifying it’s colour and mordanting it in different ways to dye at least 2 different categories of fibers.
  • Explore dyeing with bacteria of different fibers and bacteria

Evaluation and assessment

Class page