Category Archives: natural fibers

Spidergoats?

By Carmen Rivera

Scientists hope to soon be able to spin spider silk without the aid of spiders, achieving this task would not only be an amazing technological breakthrough in the field of genetic manipulation, but also in the development of new and exciting fibers. Randy Lewis, a professor of molecular biology in the University of Wyoming, who’s been experimenting with the genetic manipulation of the spider’s silk producing protein. The development of the spider’s silk fiber would be an amazing advancement in the fiber sciences field by being an organic material that is not only elastic, but also quite possibly the strongest man-made fiber. But where do goats come into the mix? Well, spiders being the territorial and aggressive creatures they are make it impossible to farm, unlike goats that are accustomed to such. Because of that Prof. Lewis started working on implanting the spider’s silk producing gene into the goat’s genetic structure. The results were unbelievable, it worked! Goats could now produce the same protein that allowed their milk to be spun from liquid to solid. Such amazing results caught the Army’s attention. They now plan to use the goat’s milk fibers in their bulletproof vests, which are now 100% effective. After the development of the “Biosteel”, or what the spider silk is now referred to as, scientist researched into even further possibilities like bulletproof skin. Scientists took the genetically modified silk and cultured it with human skin cells that, after about five weeks, created a tough, flexible, living material that is calculated to make a slow bullet ricochet from skin. Scientists hope to further refine the discovery into cells that can actually stop any type of bullet as consistently as bulletproof vest. And so the spider gave the goat genetic properties that made silk as strong as iron that then made skin as strong as Superman’s.  Science will never cease to amaze us.

Photo Source:

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/11/30/spider-goats-and-other-genetically-engineered-nightmares

Sources:

Handwerk, Brian. “Artificial Spider Silk Could Be Used for Armor, More.” Daily Nature and Science News and Headlines | National Geographic News. National Geographic Channel, 14 Jan. 2005. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0114_050114_tv_spider.html>.

“Military Breakthrough: ‘Bulletproof’ Skin Made from Spider Silk.” The Week – Science+Tech. The Week, 19 Aug. 2011. Web. <http://theweek.com/article/index/218433/military-breakthrough-bulletproof-skin-made-from-spider-silk>.

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Color The Way Nature Intended

by Jennifer E. Kim

Naturally colored cottons are different from white cottons for they do not need to go through the dyeing process to achieve coloration. They come in 8 to 12 different colors, some being beige, red, earth brown, chocolate brown, and green. They are cultivated and taken care of without the use of pesticides, and grown separately from other cottons to prevent cross-contamination. By not using chemical dyes, as well as reducing the use of pesticides, the naturally colored cottons have become popular for being ecological and environmentally safe. But there are some problems with the cottons, which  has to do with the length and the strength as well as the cost. Compared to the white cottons, the naturally colored cottons are shorter; they are ¾ of an inch, while the white cottons are usually an inch. The only solution to this is to continuously grow cottons from the best plants, as well as take extreme care in growing and cultivating the cotton. Due to the hardship and the workload  that is required to produce the cottons, the price for them is about $2.42 per pound, as compared to 70 cents for undyed cotton.

One of the  well-known cultivator of the naturally colored cotton is Sally Fox. Sally Fox started to be interested in naturally colored cotton as she came across brown cotton seeds. As she planted and grew them, she discovered that her brown cotton also had green cotton as well. From there, she carefully examined the them and began to breed them in different ways, which allowed her to create six shades: “Coyote and New Brown, both of which are reddish browns, milk-chocolate colored Buffalo, sage-colored Palo Verde, Green Fox Fibre ®, and a dark forest New Green”. These are registered under trade name Fox Fibre, which was “the first commercially spinnable, naturally colored cotton”. Fox’s study and work in cotton breeding led her to create Natural Cotton Colors Inc., which “expanded the range of natural cotton clothing and home products available in the United States and abroad”. In regards to business, Fox Fibre has sold their product to Levi Strauss, who would use it to make shirts and jeans, to Esprit, who used it to make striped T-shirts that were about $38 each, and to Fieldcrest Cannon, who would use it to create home accessories.

Photo Source:

http://ucanr.org/repository/cao/landingpage.cfm?article=ca.v048n05p5&fulltext=yes

Sources:

Draft_lens17898414module149870150photo_1304366301wweblogo.gif (GIF Image, 240×207 Pixels) – Scaled (0%). 16 Dec. 2011. <http://i2.squidoocdn.com/resize/squidoo_images/250/draft_lens17898414module149870150photo_1304366301wweblogo.gif&gt;.

“EBSCOhost: CURRENTS; Cotton as New as Today And as Old as Yesterday.” 16 Dec. 2011. <http://0-web.ebscohost.com.librarycat.risd.edu/ehost/detail?vid=9&hid=110&sid=9e29934b-2ff7-4e20-9ded-668481e85072%40sessionmgr111&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=f5h&AN=30213029&gt;.

“EBSCOhost: Seeds of Success.” 25 Oct. 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=fc67be52-b39a-492c-b1c3-97e8e9531ded%40sessionmgr4&vid=1&hid=11&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=9408177517&gt;.

Fox_work_1_190.gif (GIF Image, 190×190 Pixels) – Scaled (0%). 16 Dec. 2011. <http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/iap/images/fox_work_1_190.gif&gt;.

Kate Fletcher. Sustainable Fashion & Textijles: Designe Journey. London ; Sterling, VA : Earthscan, 2008. Print.

“Lemelson Center Invention Features: Sally Fox.” 25 Oct. 2011. <http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/ilives/lecture12.html&gt;.

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Stansborough Grey Wool: The Rarest Natural Fiber in the World

by Danica Carroll

 

Almost 3000 acres of green hills, with beautiful views and river valleys make up the sheep and cattle ranch of Stansborough, which dates back to the 1850’s. Barry and Cheryl Eldridge purchased Stansborough Farm after moving from England to New Zealand in 1971. It was here that the Eldridge’s discovered a primitive breed of rare grey sheep, which they have preserved by storing semen and embryos of the breed throughout the last twenty years. It took over 18 years of selective breeding to create this unique grey sheep known as the Stansborough Grey. Now a unique registered breed in their own right, the flock of 1200 sheep is the only flock of it’s kind in the world. As the rarest natural fiber in the world, the Stansborough Grey wool produces a fabric that is silky and lustrous with beautiful draping qualities. The sheep are shorn two times a year producing a staple length of about 3-4 inches. The emphasis at the Stansborough Mill is on quality not quantity, and is completely eco friendly.

The ‘Stansborough Grey’ sheep wool is spun, and then woven at the Stansborough Weaving Mill in Wellington. Cheryl Eldridge personally sorts every fleece into three shades of grey as it is shorn. The industrial worsted looms at their mill date to the early 1890’s and are the only six working commercially in the world. Cheryl has been making fabric from the Stansborough Grey yarn for years, and in 1998 started work with Ngila Dickson and her team of costume designers for many of the lead characters in Peter Jacksons famous movie  trilogy, The Lord of The Rings. After the success of the Stansborough Grey ‘fellowship cloaks’ used in The Lord of The Rings, the Eldridges have been contacted by several other productions craving their beautiful fabric for costume designs. Some of these productions include the films Avatar, Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian, The Waterhorse, BBC’s Kidnapped, and Kingdom Come.

Photo:

http://internationalfleeces.com/2010/08/04/focus-on-fiber-stansborough-grey-the-making-of-a-breed/

Sources:

Barry Eldridge. Stansborough. Stansborough Mill. n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. ‹http://www.stansborough.co.nz. ›.

International Fleeces, Inc. Focus on Fiber: Stansboroguh Grey, The Making of A Breed. 4 Aug. 2010. Web 1 Dec.2011. <http://internationalfleeces.com/author/adminmultisite/>

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