Primordial Pigments

United States

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- story by MaterialDistrict

Primordial Pigments is an exploration on how pigment-producing bacteria can be utilised in textile block printing. It was born out of an appreciation for the Arts and Crafts movement and a collaboration between living organism and designer.

Annelise Payne sourced and cultivated bacteria from the original William Morris textile workshops to conceptualise a fully microbial based colour palette to reprint his original textile patterns. Pigment-producing bacteria were applied to block prints and grown on silk and velvet over a span of five days. In a process that provides equal agency to these living organisms, the bacteria multiply, spread, and develop over time to reveal colours and patterns on fabrics. As the designer, Payne initially directs the bacteria placement, but the final patterns are very much dependent on the bacteria itself. The outcomes offer a future-facing glimpse at how designers can use bacterial pigments to revive traditional Arts and Crafts practices while giving agency to living organisms as co-designers in textile block printing.

Material Properties