BIO- UNCU MAKER
Bio – Uncu Maker is a sustainable and eco-friendly garment developed from Agar Agar’s bioplastic. It is made with Algae’s extracts naturally dyed with natural ingredients from Peru and Alpaca’s Wool felt. A smart alternative to conventional textiles promoting creative solutions and, ideally, new opportunities in the regenerative fashion industry.
Imagine a world where our garments would be biocompatible and truly reflect our identity, while at the same time, have a regenerative impact in our society and environment. A world where materials would be designed to interact with the human body and the environment. A world where users would be empowered through their garments, which would result in feeling proud of their essence and identity while at the same time – they reconcile with nature.
Would you like to co-create your BIO- TOCAPU?
We are in the process of creating a Bio-Tocapu Maker Kit and we are inviting you to join our upcoming workshops and newsletters.
Model: Célia Antunez
Photographer : Kopa
¨Therefore, this first garment symbolizes the Aclla that, freed from the slavery system, discovers her true identity, reinventing and empowering herself. Why, you may wonder? Because she is capable of revealing her own story through a garment designed and made by her. A garment invented as a part of the formidable biodiversity, that culminates it’s life cycle in it¨.
Bio-Uncu is inspired by the Inka’s Royalty Garments which included unique adornments called Tocapus and iconographies called Pallay that represented insights of their story and ancestors. We must share our history with pride and identity because it goes far beyond social media.
This project was born as a question: What would the Bio loom of the future look like? Would Biomaterials Loom be the solution that could allow us to ensure a circular economy at home, in such a way that each designer and/or person with basic knowledge of biomaterials would be able to manufacture their own personalized biomaterial garments?
The Solution? A bodysuit made with a biotextile that has a minimum impact on the human’s health and environment. A biotextile that is biocompatible with human skin while, at the same time, allowing each user to tell their story, share their cultural identity and in one word – empower – by allowing them to bio-fabricate their own BIO UNCU (Inka’s shirt). We’re having in mind a garment that respects and honors Peruvian’s Textile Heritage and uses digital bio fabrication technologies as a medium for empowering it’s final users (UX).
To validate this first hypothesis, we decided to manufacture our first Bio-Loom that would allow us to manufacture a garment with a minimalist and geometric pattern. That is why we decided to start with Inca’s garment or shirt (Uncu), which takes its original name “UNCU” + Maker.
This garment was very representative for the level of advancement when it comes to textile art developed by the Incas. The selection of the first garment will allow us to make a futuristic version of a Biotelar, where we will include patterns of different textures in a square shape, called QR TOCAPUS. Here, each texture will be personalized according to the biographical data of each user (their origins and history). In an era where the world is so multicultural, we must proudly share our history, because our real identity goes far beyond what it is shown on social media.
Photo: Inka’s Uncu Source: Wikipedia.org
QR CODES: A NEW FORM OF COMMUNICATION
As a result of the current pandemic, we live in a (new) era where we are continuously hyper-informed, hyper-connected and hyper-stimulated. In that sense, QR codes have acquired a great role as a form of agile and simple visual communication on different contents available in the digital ecosystem.
The TOCAPUS were square-shaped polychromatic iconographies that were embroidered on Inca costumes, and which, for some scientists such as Victoria de Jara and Thomas Barthel, represented a type of “Lost Writing” from the Inca period. What we can affirm with certainty is that it’s an expression of the identity for each character of the Inca royalty and their high connection with the sacred, while at the same time it represents a form of communication that is still practiced in some indigenous communities from Peru.
It is important to indicate that the Tocapu was the adornment itself and the Pallay was the sign used for that adornment. Qillka was the complex system of embroidery, painting and writing that adorned fabrics.
Tokapu – Wikimedia Commons’ Photo
THE REGENERATIVE STORY:
Our first installment is inspired by the women of the Inca Empire, the Acllas, who under a tributary system were confined to work in specialized textile centers called Acllawasi.
The best weavers (acllas) from all over the empire were forcibly transferred to the capital, Cuzco, to work in Acllawasi or “House of Chosen Women.” The Acllawasi were state-sponsored workshops with subsidized workers where clothing for the nobility and the military was produced.
Textiles were as valuable to the Inkas as any other precious good. In most, if not all, Inka ceremonies, textiles played an important and crucial role. Having in mind textiles had such a high value, they were offered up alongside gold, silver, livestock, and human sacrifices to appease gods.
¨Therefore, this first garment symbolizes the Aclla that, freed from the slavery system, discoveres her true identity, reinventing and empowering herself. Why, you may wonder? Because she is capable of revealing her own story through a garment designed and made for her. A garment invented as a part of the formidable biodiversity, that culminates it’s life cycle in it¨.
Model: Célia Antunez
Photographer : Kopa
THE REGENERATIVE INGREDIENTS
Our first Bio Uncu has been made with 60% Alpaca felt and 40% Agar Agar bioplastics including Bio Tocapus.
Algae Extracts – Agar Agar
The great protagonists of bio-revolution in the textile and fashion industry are undoubtedly microalgae and fungi. Different Seaweeds such as Gelidium, Gracilaria, Pterocladia and Gelidiella are the main sources used for the extraction of agar.
Agar agar is a mixture of two components, the linear polysaccharide agarose and a heterogeneous mixture of smaller molecules called agaropectin. It forms the supporting structure in the cell walls of certain species of algae and is released on boiling. These algae are known as agarophytes, belonging to the Rhodophyta (red algae).
In addition, Agarose can be used for molecular exclusion chromatography and as a nutritional base for dyeing processes with microorganisms – it is the key to be able to separate it’s staining elements.
Agar agar is odorless and tasteless. A recent study, developed by Peruvian and Chilean researchers, has made it possible to complement the description and circumscription of the red algae genus Phyllophorella (Phyllophoraceae, Rhodophyta) on the central coast of Peru, as well as to have new reports and document the development of their sexual structures.
It’s natural habitat in Peruvian’s coast goes from Bahía San Nicolás in Ica to Paita (Piura), Peru. Source: Seaweed in the Peruvian’s Diet.
Red seaweed © Gavin Maneveldt
Corn originated in Mexico, and the beginnings of its cultivation nearly 9.000 years ago completely changed the way people eat. Civilizations like the Maya, Olmec, Aztec, and Inca all have gods and legends that involve corn. Even today, groups like the Maya still value corn and associate the plant with life. Mexico has 59 varieties of indigenous corn, and Peru – 55. More details available at the following link.
Purple corn or purple maize is a variety of flint maize originating from South America. It is more commonly seen in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. The pigment giving corn it’s vivid purple colour derives from an exceptional content of a class of polyphenols called anthocyanins.
Purple corn is more than tasty and eye-catching. Recent research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has discovered a game-changing element of purple corn – it may help reduce the risk of major health diseases. While developing new types of purple corn, the researchers found some with elevated levels of a naturally occurring chemical that may fight obesity, inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. They also found that the outer layer of kernels might be used as natural food colouring.
Photo’s source: Naturalma
Annatto or Achiote
The Achiote, Onoto, Annato, Urucú or Bija (Bixa orellana) is a shrub native to tropical America, specifically the Amazon.
Annatto or Achiote is a rainforest shrub consisting of spiny fruits, which have been used by South America’s indigenous communities in the Awajún and Asháninka for its bright red pigment. These communities also apply Annatto medicinally: as an aphrodisiac, digestive, sunscreen and insect repellent. The curanderos, or herbal healers of the Peruvian Amazon, squeeze the juice from the fresh leaves to cure eye infections.
Also known as the ‘lipstick plant’, the seeds of Achiote fruits can be used to make face paints or food colouring called Annatto, which was used in the past by the Aztecs to intensify the colour of their chocolate drink.
Inca textiles were made using cotton (especially on the coast and in the eastern lowlands) or llama, alpaca, and vicuña wool (more common in the highlands) which can be exceptionally fine. Goods made using the super-soft vicuña wool were restricted and only the Inca ruler could own vicuña herds. Rougher textiles were also made using maguey fibers.
Alpacas live in large herds at 3.000-4.000 meters above sea level. Their natural ecosystems present extreme weather conditions with sudden temperature changes, strong winds, very high solar radiation, and low concentration of oxygen which have led them to develop a very resistant and high-quality fur.
Alpaca’s wool has different benefits. It is warmer and stronger than sheep’s wool. Also, unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca fiber does not contain lanolin which makes it hypoallergenic and suitable for people who are sensitive to wool. It offers thermal insulation and it’s level of comfort is extremely high. To learn more about Alpaca wool check the following link.
THE REGENERATIVE COLORS AND ITS MEANING
The principal colours used in Inca textiles were black, white, green, yellow, orange, purple, and red. Blue was rarely present in Inca textiles. These colours came from natural dyes which were extracted from plants, minerals, insects, and molluscs.
Colours also had specific associations. For example, red was equated with conquest, rulership, and blood. This was most clearly seen in the Mascaipacha, the Inca state insignia, where each thread of it’s red tassel symbolised a conquered people. Green represented rainforests, the people who inhabited them, ancestors, rain and it’s consequent agricultural growth, coca, and tobacco.
Yellow could signal the Sun, maize, or gold. Main ingredient that was used for obtaining this colour was Annatto or Achiote. Another source could be Curcuma or Turmeric.
Purple was, as in the rainbow, considered the first colour and associated with Mama Oclla, the founding mother of the Inca race. Main ingredients that were used for obtaining this colour were Purple Corn and Concholepas, a species of gastropod mollusc of the Muricidae family that live on the coasts of Chile and Perú.
Red symbolizes bravery, strength, and valour. Main ingredients that were used for obtaining this colour were Cochinilla, Annatto but also an herb that was denominated “Raíz de Teñir”.
Orange represented society, culture, and traditional activities. Main ingredient that was used for obtaining this colour was Annatto or Achiote. Another source could be Curcuma or Turmeric.
Black signified creation and death, and also foreigners at Cuzco could wear only black garments. It was the color of purity and deity.
Andean Natural Dyes Photo by Mashua Project
THE CREATIVE ECOSYSTEM
María Javier: Peruvian Industrial Engineer and Textile Materials Researcher. Gave her contribution and work as Product Manager and Consultant in Social and Environmental Impact. She specialized in agile technology applied in the textile sector at the Fabricademy 2019-2020 in Barcelona. She is the founder of Mashua Project, a company dedicated to the dissemination and production of regenerative solutions.
Estefania Cavalie: Publicist, entrepreneur and maker. She was a finalist of 3D fashion week and Fashion Digital Night in Rome, Italy. She graduated from the Fabricademy 2019-2020 diploma at Fablab Barcelona. She focused on the research of sustainable processes and development of biomaterials. She is the founder of the clothing brand Nishi Cobin and Animai Studio, which seeks to help other designers to be more sustainable in their processes and designs.
The beautiful city of Barcelona was the perfect artistic and creative environment that allowed us to complete the first phase of this project.
Initial Concept, Storytelling and Garment’s Design by María Javier, director of Mashua Project and Estefania Cavalie.
Textile Research, Final Bio-Uncu & Bio-Tocapus’ Design and Production, Content Creation by María Javier.
Factory 103, a Co-Working Space was our Bio-Factory for 3 months, as our main biomaterial tests were completed there.
Fab Café Barcelona, a Co-Working Space where we completed the digital fabrication of our first garment (engrave and laser cut processes).
Upcycling Barcelona, a sustainable fashion school where we completed our stitching and sewing tests.
Dawid Kopa, in charge of the video/photo shoot and its edition.
Célia Antunez, our Factory 103 co-worker who kindly accepted to model our first garment.
Ma. José Hermida, our Makeup Artist.
BIO UNCU’S TECHNICAL DATA SHEET
For more detailed information in regards of the biotextile research and digital design, please go to the following link.
The Regenerative Materials:
– Vegan Leather made with Agar Agar’s bioplastics, dyed with natural ingredients from Perú (Annatto or Achiote and Purple Corn). This bioplastic was used for 40% of the Uncu’s production including its Bio-Tocapus.
– Alpaca wool’s felt.
– Main Colours: Golden yellow (which represents maize or gold) and Dark Purple (Burgundy), a colour that is part of the rainbow. It was also associated with Mama Oclla, the founding mother of the Inca race.
-First Agar Agar Biomaterials Tests (stitching, cutting, embroidery, strength). Additional Biomaterials Tests such as Chemical, Thermal and Chemical are required prior to the commercialization of this biomaterial.
-Digital Manufacturing (Digital Modular Design, Laser Cutting and Laser Engrave)
-Storytelling and Video shoot.
Educational Institutions, Fashion Brands and Independent Researchers can reach us via email@example.com.