Medusae-Project Jellyfish as a Sustainable Material
Inspired by the growing number of dead Jellyfish in the Baltic Sea, this project set out to explore the possibility of creating an environmentally-friendly material from Jellyfish. Using techniques derived from material restoration this project aimed to prove the resilience, functionality and survivability of material made from Jellyfish bells.
The Jellyfish bells were preserved using only natural additives. A mixture of different methods were experimented with to temper the bells. Effective methods were taken from ancient techniques for preserving parchment paper and from the Anthropodermic Bibliography. This involves washing, salting, tanning, layering, dying, and then finally pressing and/or sewing the Jellyfish bells together.
In collaboration with Liesel Swart, shoe designer and lecturer at the Dutch Shoe Academy we created a prototype shoe from Jellyfish Collagen. This is an example of a possible application for treated Jellyfish and through this I was able to learn a lot more about how to increase the resilience of Jellyfish collagen.
The first prototype, made from 2 overlapping pieces of tempered Jellyfish collagen, resulted in being too brittle to be used as a wearable shoe. For the second prototype, a more advanced process was used. Multiple layers of tempered jellyfish material were dyed and then pressed. This made the material much stronger, more flexible and gives the texture a leathery, paper-like feel.
I’m pleased to announce the second Jellyfish Shoe!
The project is realised in collaboration with shoe designer Liesel Swart and Aurélia Diemer from the Dutch Shoe Academy.
The model has the looks of an aqua sandal and is inspired by the water shoes that are usually made out of plastic. The material of the shoe is water repellent and meant to be treated the same way as common leather.
Photograph by Anisa Xhomaqi, Stichting Mediamatic.
Photograph by David Meulenbeld, Vice.
Lab Experiments – TU Delft
In order to learn more about to preserving organic material I visited the Department of Bioscience at Delft Technical University. With the help of a PhD student I was able to run a series of experiments to test the suitability of Jellyfish collagen as a substrate for bacterial growth.
One of the applied bacterias produced a compound similar to calcium carbonate. This compound crystallised the structure of the collagen and made the material much tougher. To produce Jellyfish material using this method the process was repeated, layer by layer, creating a pattern similar to the inside of a crustacean. The microscopic images below show how the structure of the collagen changed before and after treatment.
Photograph TU Delft.