Into the skin, into the soul bioplastic
The bioplastic was developed during Carolina's final bachelor's degree project, between 2017 and 2018. The process is aimed at a material less impactful to the environment, zero waste, circular and fully recyclable. In the project “Into the skin, into the soul”, she developed bioplastic and ephemeral jewellery. With the challenge of creating an object that is an ephemeral experience and also generates the least environmental impact possible, bioplastic jewellery was a way to reconquer the body as the main interface of experience in the world. It is made of a biodegradable material she developed, offering a solution for the issue of conventional plastics.
This bioplastic was developed based on other biomaterials scientific research and open source research shared on the internet but adapted to the tools and materials to which the creator had access. It was entirely developed in a kitchen, so it can be easily replicated.
The gelatine bioplastic is light and flexible. When fabricated just with water, it assumes a yellow colour with transparency. When fabricated with tea, the yellow colour from gelatine will blend with the tea colour. It can assume different colours when pigments are combined with the yellowish base.
When heated, the bioplastic is similar to a gel state and can be manipulated to transform into different shapes and textures. The material transforms into a solid state when cools down and becomes more rigid as the water evaporates.
The proportion of water and glycerine interfere with the flexibility of the material. Higher proportions generate a more flexible material. Lower quantities generate a more rigid bioplastic.
The thickness of the material can also represent different flexibility. A bioplastic with the same material proportions can be more flexible with a lower thickness. And a higher thickness would be rigid.
It can be recyclable, applying warm water and reused again.
In 2020 Carolina received an invitation from Giulia Tomasello to collaborate on the ALMA project. She created bioplastic panties that would carry a biosensor. ALMA is a non-invasive wearable biosensor designed for the detection of vaginal infections. The project aims to develop a less conspicuous, wearable system that is low cost and reusable, capable of detecting pH from vaginal secretions and gathering data that can be stored and used to reconstruct an individual’s physiological profile over an extended period of time. The sensor’s data will be interfaced with a mobile app, designed to monitor vaginal chemistry and generate educational awareness.
The first step of the process is to separate the proportion of 12g of gelatine, 12,5 of glycerine, and 60ml of water or tea. But the material can be fabricated in different quantities.
The gelatine should be poured into the water slowly until it’s mixed. After that, the material should be heated on the stove, but without boiling it. When the material became liquid and fully mixed, the vinegar and glycerine can be poured while still heating.
The vinegar is optional, it can be used to make contamination more difficult during the drying time.
All of the materials should be mixed with a spatula, but without being boiled. If it does, it will create bubbles. It should be mixed until it became a homogenous mix. When it happens it can stop being heated.
Then, the material should be poured during the gel state in a mould or on a glass sheet. In case of any bubbles appear in the process, they can be removed right after taking out of the stove, while still in a gel state. Otherwise, it will create a texture and interfere with the transparency of the material.
The bioplastic should dry in a room with a temperature between 17 to 29 Celcius degrees and air circulation. The material can’t be touched without sterilising the hands and it should aware of any possible contamination by air. The dry time can vary between 3 to 7 days, it depends on the humidity and temperature of the day.
After drying, the volume of the material will decrease at least half of the thickness. And any contact with water or humidity should be avoided to preserve the material for a longer period of time.
Gelatine, glycerine, vinegar(optional), water or tea.
Carolina Elize Puppe
The material was developed based on other open source processes (Fab Textiles and independent scientists). The design collaboration happened with ALMA project (created by Giulia Tomaselo).