From Dissolve to Patterns
by Iines Jakovlev
Dissolving recycled cellulose with ionic liquid to create coloured patterns on fabrics.
Now-a-days there is a lot of discussion about recycling materials. I think we should also be concerned about color production and concentrate more on recycling colors too. In this project I explored one way of color recycling that could be used in the future. Using ionic liquid in dissolving cellulose is much more environmentally friendly than for example viscose process that uses a lot of chemicals. The new fibers created can have the colors of old recycled cellulose fibers, but that color can also be transferred to new clothing in the form of patterns. This process is not researched a lot yet and I did find problems in my research. Anyway, I do hope that ways of recycling materials and colors are explored and researched more in the future.
Usually, dissolving cellulose is used in processes where cellulose or recycled cellulose is regenerated. Cellulose is dissolved and regenerated as thin filaments that are cut into small textile fibers. Rayon, viscose and new and more sustainable processes such as Ioncell use this technique.
In my process I used an ionic liquid called Emim Acetate or [EMIM] [AC] (correct name 1-Ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate) as a solvent to dissolve different cellulose fibers and recycle them as patterns on fabric. I experimented with different cellulose-based materials and fabrics such as cotton, viscose, hemp, linen and kraft pulp.
In the dissolving process [EMIM] [AC] is heated up to 70 degrees and grinded cellulose is added. Mixture is mixed and possibly re-heated until solution is see-through and cellulose is fully dissolved.
If used cellulose is dyed, the color stays in the solution and is now used to create patterns on fabric. Solution was added on fabric surfaces in various ways, such as painted, dripped and with stencils.
I tested different materials, solution thickness and exposure time. I experimented also with pattern making, layering, stencils and color fastness.
In the final step, the treated fabric is placed in a water bath. [EMIM] [AC] is highly hydrophilic and is dissolved into the water leaving only cellulose in the fabric. After this samples were dried at room temperature.