Cross-linking Medusae, December 2020
Photography by Pleun Appolonia Gruijthuijsen
I am very pleased to present my new work “Cross-linking Medusae”, a storytelling design about jellyfish. The title Cross-linking Medusae, reveals an important aspect about the treatment of the jellyfish tissue: the chemical reaction that occurs between the natural polymers (proteins; e.g. jellyfish collagen). Cross-linking is a biological phenomenon that occurs when different polymers attach to each other. I apply cross-links to change the chemistry of the jellyfish tissue to make a strong and flexible material. With this technique all pieces of jellyfish tissue bond together into one piece. This piece consists of many small pieces of washed up jellyfish, that I collected and preserved over the past 2 years.
With the design of the vest, I’d like to emphasize the flexibility and transparency of the material. The vest is made on my body size. Besides, the cross-design refers also to the cross-linking treatment of the material.
Medusae-Project Jellyfish as a Sustainable Material
Inspired by washed up jellyfish, 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. This involves washing, salting, tanning, layering, dying, and then finally pressing the Jellyfish bells together.
In collaboration with Liesel Swart and Aurélia Diemer (Dutch Shoe Academy) we created a prototype shoe from Jellyfish Collagen. This is an example of a possible application for treated Jellyfish.
Photography by David Meulenbeld, Vice. (2017)
The model has the looks of an aqua sandal and is inspired by the water shoes that are usually made out of plastic.
Photography by Anisa Xhomaqi, Stichting Mediamatic.
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. The material is water repellant, but not yet water-proof. More research will be conducted to see wheter this application is realistic.
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.
Photography TU Delft. (2015)