One of the most interesting things I did in 2017 was a project with Jane Wood, a textile technologist from Manchester Metropolitan University. Jane’s research concerns the development of sustainable bio-fabrics and I got the opportunity to experiment with sheets of vegetable leather she had grown in vats of kombucha tea.
It was so exciting to be working with a new material particularly because it is grown and therefore has a very low environmental impact in its manufacture. Not only is 100% bio-degradable but can also ‘come back to life’ if submerged back in the vat and fed!
I happily spent hours applying the principals of millinery; steaming, stretching and blocking to see how this wonder fabric behaved. Out of this a workshop session was born and we offered the general public the chance to have a go at Hat Works Museum as part of Manchester Science Festival. And the participants did not disappoint! They really embraced the element of play to explore exactly how this fabric could be manipulated and created some amazing sculptural headpieces and brooches.
The general feeling among the milliners who attended was that this fabric definitely has potential as an alternative to traditional millinery materials – I can’t wait to do more on this.
Follow Jane on Twitter: @fashfutures