Textiles & Costume

Cloth of gold and carpet fluff

This is this weeks pogey bait:

It’s a ball of carpet fluff.  The stuff you get off of a newly cut wool carpet.

No, I’m not kidding.  I’m really showing you carpet fluff.

This is special carpet fluff though.  It is carpet fluff that is dyed with gold.

Yep.  It turns out that if you dissolve gold into miniscule nano sized particles with strong acid it is an excellent dye.

A group of scholars at Victoria University of Wellington are doing groundbreaking research on dyeing with gold.

They can dye wool and silk – anything keratin based because the sulphur particles in keratin form a strong bond with the gold.

In addition to being just flat out cool, dyeing stuff with gold has numerous practical benefits as well.

It is environmentally friendly – the process uses nothing but wool, water, gold and a very small amount of acid.  At the end of the process the water has far less chemicals in it than the water coming out of your dishwasher.

Wool dyed with gold is also antibacterial and antimicrobial, and moths can’t live in it.  And, unlike items treated with silver, the gold-wool bond extremely strong, so the gold doesn’t wash an wear out.

Finally, gold dyed wool is anti-static, great for cars and airplanes and medical textiles.

And because the gold is broken down into nano particles, it reflects the light in a completely different way, so comes in a whole range of colours, from yellow, to mauve (like my fluff) to blue and grey.

At this point I think the aim is to use gold-dyed wool in high fashion.

You can read more about it here.

I have my own personal dustbunny of gold dyed wool because one of the scientists involved with the project was a guest lecturer in a course I teach.  She passed around examples, including a square of carpet covered in the fluff, and I asked to keep the ball of fluff at the end.

I’d better put it in a jar with a label so it doesn’t get mistaken for an ordinary dustbunny!

3 Comments

  1. That’s amazing – I can’t wait to see what fashion does with this stuff (though I suspect I’ll only see it through window shopping, lol!). And what a lovely shade of lilac your carpet fluff is 🙂

  2. That is completely fascinating and amazing! I love learning random new things like this! Thanks!

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