For my current research, I have been growing Kombucha fabric from living microorganisms using a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) together with tea, sugar and cyder vinegar through a process of fermentation. This originated as a byproduct when producing the Kombucha fermented tea drink. The microorganisms feed on the sugary nutrients in the liquid, building nanofibers of cellulose that bond together into layers creating a non-woven mat on the surface of the liquid. This floating mat is the Kombucha fabric and the vessel it is grown in determines the shape and size of the fabric.
Once it is grown (2-4 weeks), harvested, washed and dried, the resulting fabric can be as fine and delicate as tissue paper or as thick and flexible as leather. Kombucha has been described as the ‘fabric of the future’; there is no waste as it is biodegradable. Once the fabric is harvested the fermented liquid can be recycled and the whole process started again; it is a continuous cycle of reuse and regeneration.