Colouring with bacteria?

Hello everyone,

I was wondering if anyone has thoughts or experience with colouring/ creating pigments using bacteria. Online I have come across several textile designers using bacteria to make designs but personally I don’t know the process of this. I wonder how this can be use in the future, not only in the textile field but also the architectural field and graphic design field. So is yo have thoughts about it or experience please let me know!

just to be clear you mean the bacteria do the design? or as a material, like with biofilms?

cause it would be interesting to see, given an outline what kind of pattern would the bacteria make…

There’s generally two ways of using the color producing bacteria:

  1. You use the bacteria to produce colorant molecules, extract them and use the solution as a paint/pigment
  2. You let the bacteria grow straight onto your material and then kill them without harming the colorant.

Personally I find the second option the most interesting, because you can use biological growth patterns. It’s also an application of living materials, in that you create conditions for growth rather than intervene with the materials directly. It breaks with the industrial mindset that the first option kind of propagates.

This article always inspires me:

Waag has a few bacteria they work with for pigments during the BioHack Academy:

Hello, I suppose you know the French startup Pili

@Arno-Weymaere has also briefly worked with color bacteria here:

Hey - so we did this at my lab Biologigaragen - Bioshades .I’ll be doing kit’s soon with a full booklet and “tune” in workshops for labs who want to learn side by side.

Its way more complicated than it seems and even so because the bacteria can change so quickly.

Yes I think both are intresting, But Im more interested to see what paterns the bacteria create!

Hello! Yes I have read about this bioshades workshop! very nice, Im very interested to know more about your kit! Do you have more information about it and on what you’re working on. :slight_smile:

Hi there!

I know this is an old thread, but I wonder if you still work with color-producing bacteria. I am looking for some s. coelicolor for a project around cyanotypes but I am struggling to find it in the US (I am an independent artist with a low budget). Do you maybe have any advice?

Grateful for any experience or info you may share!
Take care,