Krapiva Zhguchaya is a research project that explores the possibilities of using the plant of stinging nettle to create a variety of materials and products.
Stinging Nettle is a weed widespread in Europe and Asia that the majority of people try to get rid of in their yards. Traditionally it was used in Russian culture as a source for clothes, fishing nets, sailing ropes, traditional medicine, food and house insulation because of its antiseptic properties. Similar to linen production, craftsmen were extracting the fibres that grow inside the stalks of the plant to create a thread or textile and paper.
Growing up in a city, Polina Baikina (Studio laVina) often spent summer time in the Russian countryside with her great grandfather, who was an agronomist and had his way with plants. One time, during a walk in the forest, he collected some nettle and made her a toy from it. Polina always remembered this, impressed with the craft and the skill of creation. Becoming a designer she often turns to nature for inspiration.
Varvara Lazareva spent her childhood in an urban environment, feeling completely disconnected from her cultural heritage and traditional crafts. While studying design in the Netherlands she felt the desire to reconnect with her homeland.
Uncovering the family heirloom she learned a lot about traditional crafts and found her fascination in the fine artistry that comes with it.
Starting the project Krapiva Zhguchaya, Polina and Varvara wanted to create a new life for this material by making modern products and re-thinking production techniques. The stinging nettle was harvested in Russia and in the Netherlands during various seasons of the year to test how this influences the material qualities. Using the hands on approach they learned that dried stalks contain only about 10% of the fibre and the rest was the thatch, that was not used by the craftsmen before. This discovery and desire to not create waste pushed the project forward and it resulted in a wider range of products from nettle, where you would use not just the fibre, but the thatch as well. Pigments also come from the plant itself, so the whole plant is used for production.
For the carpet production they extracted the fibre and made a yarn out of it. The gradient ranges from the natural colour of the yarn that comes from the processing to the dyed yarn. The vessels are created from the fibre with addition of starch, flour and water. The table and stool recipe includes the thatch, leaves from the stinging nettle mixed with the bioresin.
The stinging nettle has a lot of interesting properties and possibilities to develop the project further that Polina continues to research, including interior finishing materials and food design.
Future Materials Encounter
Encounters are workshops and conversations around the materials of the Future Materials Bank.
Stinging nettle (fibre, thatch, leaves), starch, flour, water, bio-resin.