First I made the kombucha and grew the SCOBY.
Then I let it dry and sketched out what I wanted to make it into.
I decided to make a wallet.
I really enjoyed learning about and making kombucha leather. This material is all natural and is starting to be used in replacement of materials like cotton. Even cotton, although it is not synthetic, is often treated with harmful chemicals and dyes that are bad for the earth. Both the kombucha leather and mycelium experiments have opened my eyes to the possibilities of using all natural materials that will easily be broken down when their life cycle is finished. Although most materials we use for anything are derived from natural resources, we process them so much, adding so many chemicals, they become not natural at all and take thousands of years to decompose if at all. These two experiments have introduced me to new fabrics I could use as a fashion designer. They have helped me become aware of one of the biggest questions in the industry. What happens to the fabrics we wear when we are done using them? These experiments have made me more curious about natural materials. For example, I noticed the cob webs in my window and I started wondering if their was any way I could harness their strength and lightness to make fabric and clothing.
For this kombucha leather piece I decided to make a wallet. I did so because I didn’t grow enough to make anything much bigger. I would love to experiment more with making clothing out of this material however something would need to be used to seal it so it could be waterproof. Beeswax is a natural waterproofer however it is oily and waxy and might not be comfortable to wear. The other thing that’s important is the fact that it really needs to be dyed to wear. I do like its natural brown color for certain clothing pieces but some people might find it unsettling because it resembles skin.
I believe my wallet design could totally take off in real life. Overall, making the wallet was pretty easy. The SCOBY just takes a while to grow. However, I think it can be used to make many different things. For this project I made a wallet. However I had scraps left that I could use to make other things like earrings or other small items. I think it is realistic to start a company that sells kombucha leather products because one person can “manufacture” everything. It’s not hard for one person to grow and then design the product. The only thing is packaging. The packaging has to be environmentally friendly too. In retrospect, it could be packaged in the same leather, however the designer has to be aware of the fact that it can’t get wet. Either they have to develop a way to make it water-resistant but still safe for the environment, or they have to package it in another material that is not too harmful either. Honestly, whether I started a SCOBY leather business or not, I can still use the wallet and anything else I make from it. The wallet is durable and really resembles leather. I made some earrings with the excess and I actually really like them. I didn’t really like the brown color to begin with but I kind of like it seeing it after it was made into something, and it really does look like leather!
Kombucha leather earrings with metal rings.