Probiotic Textiles

It’s been quite some time since my last post, so I think I should start with some updates. First off, the cultures I started nursing at the time of my last post have grown considerably:

Eyelid swab – turmeric
Eyelid swab – both chili and turmeric dyes on one plate

I have started experimenting with photographing on a black background:

Eyelid swab – chili

The plates I started at the beginning of this journey are still hanging out in the studio, and some of them have developed enough that I thought it worth taking their pictures again (also, I was loving the black back drop):

Hand swab
Teeth swab
Tongue swab

I have not been completely idol while these cultures were sitting and growing. I was curious to experiment with more natural dyes, so I decided to try beet juice and blackberry juice.

Two flaws in this plan: One, I added far too much beet juice to the one plate, so that it did not stiffen as much as I would have liked. Two, I did not wash the blackberries before mashing them up and extracting the juice, so the bacterial growth that later appeared may have been at least partly from the blackberries’ own microbiome, as opposed to my own. I also could have heated up the juice first, to kill bacteria as well as make it thicker.

That said, the blackberry plate did not disappoint:

Blackberry juice plate with swab from the back of my tongue – 5 days growth

The beet plate began leaking, somehow, and had to be disposed of. I can only hope some curious seagull did not become violently ill after picking through the rubbish.

Beet juice plate with swab from the back of my tongue, right before it had to be disposed of

Like many of my cultures, my kombucha jars have been left to their own devices for the past few weeks. They both seem to be generating more SCOBYs, which got me wondering what I may be able to do with them. I looked into SCOBY craft ideas and found that it is possible to make fabric and jewelry. I hope to soon try one or both of these ideas or come up with one of my own. I began to dry out two of my SCOBYs –  a thick one and a thin one – by rinsing them and placing them on a wooden cutting board. After a day of drying, the thin one turned into a material somewhere in between the consistency of paper and leather.


I am excited to see what kinds of probiotic textiles I may be able to create.

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