Acquaintance with the materials.

Acquaintance with the materials.

I started off this experimental exercise with researching the existing bio materials. I was surprised with the inventive ways people figured out some of these “recipes”. My first concern was my very limited knowledge and understanding of biochemistry.
Obliviously I wouldn’t find a groundbreaking solution on a molecular level. So I decided to do it the way I know best. So I just started trying things out hoping to bump into something cool.

I was fascinated by a mycelium and kombucha basics workshop I followed. So the first thing I did after the workshop was trying to grow some kombucha myself. I was really hyped to try some things out on my homegrown material. But then the waiting period started. The first days checked on it daily. I after a week or so my interest was fading away. I started to get rather frustrated with the slow growing pace.

After a day or 12 I decided to harvest my kombucha ‘sheet’. It wasn’t that thick yet but I was tired of waiting and wanted to start experimenting. I washed it with biological laundry detergent, laid it on a wooden plate and started waiting again for it to dry. So it took me more or less two weeks to end up with a less than a mm thick sheet of kombucha ‘leather’.

And then it happened I wanted to remove my sheet from the wooden plate… and I made a tear straight through the middle.

Conclusion: I kinda gave up on working with kombucha.

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I hear you… More people have this problem. Usually something went wrong with cleanliness, temperature or nutrients if it grows badly.

The waiting is an interesting issue. We see all the time that people misjudge the effort it takes to grow a material. Of course, we are spoiled: we buy wood, plastic, textile, leather in a matter of seconds and can start using it immediately (or after a 1-day delivery).

Even though it’s fun, it’s not a sustainable model. It doesn’t take us much effort, but the total effort is in the price. Pumping crude oil, shipping it to China, making plastics, shipping it back to the EU. Or growing a tree for years on end just to get that small plank you want. The reality is: materials take a long time to produce. We are just spoiled.

In order to be more sustainable, we need more local materials. That involves growing them where we need them. Mycelium material is a good example: you grow it in the shape you need it, using local wasted resources. Kombucha is another good one, if you’d use locally produce fruit or sugar to ferment it. The growth period of just a few weeks beats most other materials available to use locally, I think.

An elegant solution for those who don’t like growing and waiting would be to find help from someone who takes joy in growing things themselves :slight_smile: