Life can grow from a number of substrates. We know soil as the most common place to induce and care for plants and fungi. But as many materials contain components, such as proteins, they can be used to grow upon. With a large amount of waste being produced in industries such as textiles. How can we use this ‘waste’ and turn it into ‘food’ to support and promote life. Making products which not only clean up our environment but help improve it.
Fashion designer Amanda Morglund turns scraps of textiles destined for the bin into usable, biodegradable materials. During the textiles and fashion production process a large amount of waste is produced. These normally unused scraps can therefore be utilised as a substrate for mushrooms to grow and nutrition for the mycelium root structure. Mushrooms will grow on just about anything such as sawdust, cardboard, and cigarette butts. A mushroom’s digestive system is adaptable enough to eat many things, which means it can break down toxic or non-recyclable chemicals within the materials it’s grown on. Mushroom textiles are moisture wicking, self-insulating, and don’t require any chemical tanning. During the growing process a tiny section of the mushroom’s root system (mycelium) is added to the soaked textiles. While the mycelium network grows and interweaves with the textile fibres it begins to bind with it. When the surface of the textile has been completely grown over the mushrooms begin to sprout. These can be left but for usability the mushrooms are harvested and Morglund is left with a sheet material that mimics regular fabric. Different lengths of growth time result in varying fabrics. If thick enough the cultivated textiles could be used as a replacement for synthetic padding.
Jacob Olmedo is an MFA textiles student graduating this year from Parsons the School of Design. His work explores the political and social implications of the environment while bringing humans and the natural world together as one. The garments he has created are seen as conceptual, as they may not be completely practical, but instead spark conversations about our environment and help us understand how our lives may adapt when we become more environmentally friendly. Hydroponic textiles are turned into wearable garments to act as “environmental armor”. Wheatgrass is grown from the organic material Olmedo uses. The clothing ranges from jackets to dresses but all have the common theme of transformation. The neutral textiles support and promote plant life, and are made from a blend of fibres that hold moisture and wood pulp that holds the seeds and stores the nutrients needed for the plants. He has also found that plants with basic root structures like microgreens and grasses love wool. Therefore a rug made of woolen hand spun yarn with seeds implanted in it was created.