Page 1

N A T U R A L F I B E R S SUSHMITA HATTE B.DES. Semister 7. 2016-17 Project guide: Janak Mistry





Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology

NATURAL FIBERS ARECA SHEATH Sushmita Hatte Project: Natural Fibers Project Guide: Janak Mistry, Tjeerd Veenhoven Award: B.Des in Industrial Arts and Design Practices Semester 7. Year: 2016



This project is not the result of my effort alone, but of many people who have been constantly involved, helping and guiding me throughout the process. I would like to thank Dr Geeta Narayanan, Director, Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology for giving us the opportunity to work on a project of this value. I would like to thank Simone Vermaning of the Wishful Doing Foundation for believing in the project. My facilitator Janak Mistry and my mentors Tjeerd Veenhoven and Surbhi Singhal for helping me each step of the way and giving me constructive feedback throughout. I thank Mr. Fayaz for helping me with the prototypes, and my fellow classmates for sharing the pressure of project. Lastly, my apologies for those whom I have forgotten to mention above, your efforts are valuable and truly appreciated.



Project Brief Note on Sustainability Why Natural Fibers Research Field Visits Project proposal Experiments Explorations Areca Fiber Areca Papyrus Future Scenario Reflection Reference

1 2 3 4 9 14 16 29 33 45 56 57 58


PROJECT BRIEF Natural fibre based raw material can provide an exciting alternative for the vibrant crafts as well as mainstream industry in looking for alternative solutions for packaging and other consumer applications. The Mission: Sustainable Product/System/Service, Sustainable Future: Sustainable Design complies with social, economic and ecological viability while designing products, built environment, Systems and services. The intent is to “minimize or completely eliminate negative environmental impact through skilful and sensitive design�. In order to demonstrate this mission the Areca Sheath, one of the many natural resources will be explored throughout this project. Based on this abundant raw material you are challenged to create new products with areca sheath possibly in combination with other materials as well in the following product categories:

- Toys, Stationary and storage, Fashion accessories, disposables, Home and kitchen products and accessories as well as packaging. Your designs may partly be based on using and promoting traditional local craft techniques as well as existing modern industrial processes. You may come up with your own upgrades and improvements in both product and manufacturing process techniques. You can also work with the Palmleather technique, a material upgrade of the Areca sheath that has proven successful, developed by studio Tjeerd Veenhoven. The outcome of this project will be a functional product using areca sheath possibly in combination with other materials in the above mentioned categories. The products will need to be designed with a core understanding of aesthetics, detailing sustainability and socially responsible production for current and upcoming trends.


NOTE ON SUSTAINABILITY Sustainability is so much more than a word to be thrown around. It involves being environmentally conscious, and finding a way to meet human needs along with allowing the natural ecosystems to survive without impacting the needs of future generations. It takes into account how we might live in harmony with the natural world around us, all the while protecting it from human-inflicted damage and destruction. In the modern, consumerist and largely urban set up we have developed to exist in, we are in the process of using natural and man-made materials to satisfy our needs, which in turn is causing irreversible damage to the environment. Hence, the need to develop alternative materials for the same purposes has become a dire necessity. One of the most harmful materials created by man is Plastic. It does not disintegrate naturally into the environment, causes pollution on land and in water bodies and also is one of the leading causes of deaths in living creatures on land and in water. Although the use of plastic has been reduced since the horrific effects of this material were discovered, we are not nearly as far along as we should be while finding alternative materials to replace it in its various uses.


WHY NATURAL FIBERS? It is no question of debate that natural fibres are better than synthetic ones, in almost all walks of life. Natural fibres are derived from materials like plants like jute, and animal products and sheep wool. Synthetic fibres can be considered plastic fibres. Traditional natural fibres like coir, jute and hemp have been used in the making of products for centuries. Cotton, too, is one of the most widely used natural fibre especially in the clothing industry. However, more recently, more innovative natural fibres have been extracted and developed from more non-traditional sources. Among these are banana fibres, pineapple leather and areca. Banana is a hard fibre and is used in the making of handicrafts, on the most part, especially yarns, ropes, backing papers, tea bags and even shoes. Pineapple leather is a relatively newer concept, which hopes to replace traditional animal leather completely. Known as PiĂąatex, it has clear advantages for the environment, considering it is created from a by-product of agriculture.





ranks friendly







Areca Catechu is a species of palm that grows mainly in the tropical Pacific, Asia and parts of East Africa. It is known by many common names such as areca palm, areca nut palm, betel palm and Indian nut. In India, it is most commonly called Betel Tree, since its fruit, is chewed along with betel leaves, also known as supari. The




addictive The








has is

nations. a





chewing It

link for

can to

throughout be



quite cancers.


purposes. It is often artificially planted in indoor areas like malls and hotels. These plants will not fruit or reach full size. Indoors, it is a slow growing, high light plant. In India, the dry, fallen leaves are collected and hotpressed









ARECA plantation Areca Plantation. India 2010

Dr. C.P.Gracy, CCPI, N.Nagashree, SRF, Akshata Nayak, SRF, K.Girisha, SRF Dept. of AGMACO & BM, GKVK Campus, UAS-B Bangalore-560065


ARECA PALM ARECA NUT A few slices of the Areca nut are wrapped in a betel leaf along with some fillers to make a Pan, a refreshment in India. The nuts are also used for tanning of leather and dyeing fabrics and as food colouring. These nuts are used in cultural and traditional practices in India. The husk of the nut is used as firewood.

ARECA LEAF SHEATH The leaf of the palm is attached to a sheath. When the leaf dries up the dried sheath falls of the palm. Each tree sheds up to 5-6 sheaths per year. The sheath is a lignocellulosic biomass.


A R AE CR AE C A S H Es Ah eT aH t h Lenght: 30-100 cm Width: 10-45 cm The inner layer of the sheath is covered with an epidermis which is water resistant. The fibers of the sheath run along the length of the sheath giving it directional strength and directional flexibility. The sheath is thicker in the centre and thins out towards the ends. The sheath is thicker at the edges, which were connected to the palm. It is a brittle natural fiber which softens when soaked in water and or glycerine.






1. A dinnerware set 2. A traditional cap 3. A bag 4. Soap packaging 5. Footwear



ARECA Sh e a t h uses The sheath of the areca nut tree was rendered a waste product for many years and used to be either discarded or used as firewood until farmers at the arecanut plantations started using the sheath to make caps to protect themselves from sunlight and rain. This use as caps came from the inherent water resistant property of the sheath. In the recent years however many other uses have emerged. The sheath is currently quite popular in the plate making industry where the sheath is heat-pressed and die-cut into plates and bowls of different shapes and sizes. Designers like Tjeerd have started making bags, footwear and book covers using softened versions of the sheath. The sheath is high in protein and is being treshed into powder and used as cattle fodder. Some design students have developed ways to use powdered sheath as planters in nurseries. The sheath is also being used as a packaging material.

FIELD VISiTS Plate manufacturing factory, Shivakote Dastkar Nature bazaar, Bangalore


PLATE MANUFACTURING FACTORY This Areca plate manufacturing unit which is run by Mr. Fayaz is located 10 km away from Yelahanka. It has about 10-15 Hydraulic presses. The leaf sheath is sourced from Hersaraghatta which is situated on the north of Bangalore. The sheath is sourced at the price of Rs. 2 - Rs. 2.50 per piece. The sheath is first washed and left for a day in a damp room . Using the hydraulic heat presses, it is made into a plate/ bowl and packaged. The packaged products are then sent to retail stores or wholesalers. The Areca plates have been in great demand from the past few months. In Bangalore, food stalls and food chains have shifted towards Areca plates due to the plastic ban. Thus a shortage of Areca sheath is being observed in the state.




When the plates are made, the outer cut-off of the Areca sheath is a waste product . Due to the circular shape of the plate , only one or two plates can be made per sheath. The cut-off are kept outside the factory due to lack of space. These waste cut outs are either burnt simply or shredded and sent for particle board manufacturing. Most factory units also shred it and sell it as fodder for cattle.



1. Plates being pressed in a automatic hydraulic press 2. Off-cut from the plate making process 3. Off-cuts from the plate making process 4. Off-cuts stacked in a open area outside the factory




Dastkar is a private not-for-profit NGO established in 1981, working to support traditional Indian craftspeople, many of them women and village based, with the objective of helping craftspeople regain their place in the economic mainstream, in a country where the craft sector is second only to agriculture in providing employment. Dastkar carries out its mission through advocacy with governmental, non-governmental & foreign agencies; as consultant, evaluator & resource provider to craftgroups and as organiser of direct retail marketing platforms in its popular Bazaars and Exhibitions, bringing together craftspeople, producer groups, environmental organisations, social activists & cultural performers with urban consumers, students and international buyers.

1. Haathi Chaap, a company which make paper products from elephant poop. 2. Baskets and containers made from Sikki grass. 2


Leather lamps and puppets

Lamp made out of vegetable

Banana bark fiber weaved with cotton yarn

Palm leaf basket

Lamps made with Banana bark fiber

Products made with bamboo and cane


Project proposal

Minimal upgrade like the change in the direction of the grain while weaving (one of my experiments) can also make a huge difference in strength and flexibility of the product. I

1. Introduction:

intend to explore the medium which could be made into other raw material and use it to

The need to move away from synthetic fibers has been a new trend for the past few years. Natural

its fullest. My experiments aim at upgrading the material by processing it to obtain a certain

fibers are preferred over others due to its CO2 neutrality.1 Natural fibers (plant fibers) like cotton, jute,

quality. The application could be in most of the fields of design like packaging/ home and

hemp, coir, etc. are extensively being used for various applications. The demand for development

living/ apparel/ textile industry and will be a secondary product from this project. My main

of natural fibers has been a topic of interest for most of the design sectors.1 New natural fibers like

focus would be of connecting techniques and crafts to the explored materials. Thus making

Grass, Banana bark; Banana silk, etc. are some upcoming materials and are being used extensively

an artisan friendly material which can be made into anything and everything.

in the home and living, lifestyle and fashion sector. Natural fiber is seen as a sustainable material, a material which comes from the nature and goes back to nature. Some characteristics of natural fibers are: tensile strength, flexibility, the property of it to break down into thin fibrous strands, and

3. Action plan 3.1. Research

decomposition. A lot of natural fibers are neglected because it is so abundant that there is no mar-

Extensive research is needed to understand a material, establish facts and reach new

ket and demand for it. Either they are dumped or given to the cattle as fodder. Natural fibers can

conclusions. To design a successful product, one needs to understand the material, its

replace a lot of manmade material and prove to be better for the environment. There are a few

properties, and the change in property after a treatment or process. It is important to note

natural fibers which are abundantly used such as cotton, jute, coir, bamboo, cane, etc., but there

down the research which we can refer to during the other steps of a design process. A

are still a few which have not been explored much such as water hyacinth, fruit and vegetable

research midway through the design process can be necessary to support or enable

peels, areca sheath and husk, etc.


Areca palm (Areca Catechu) is grown in the tropical regions of Pacific, Asia and parts of East Africa,

Here are topics for secondary research which will help me build my project:

for its fruit, called the areca nut. The nut can be consumed in various ways: fresh, dried, boiled, baked

• Learning about the Areca palm, the conditions it needs to grow.

or roasted. Chopped areca nut is mixed with tobacco and slaked lime and wrapped with a betel

• Uses of each part of the palm. The products they are made into.

leaf, which is a betel quid, very popular refreshment in India. This nut is not only consumed also has

• Market research on the existing products made from Areca sheath, its availability, the

an important place in the Indian traditions and customs, it is used as a religious offering, exchanged

production process and limitations if any.

as a payment or as a sign of respect. Some immature nuts are also used for dyeing cloth, tanning

• Study on other natural fibers already in use. What products are they made into, the process

leather, and as a food color.2 The areca palm is a commercially grown seed crop mainly for the nuts,

and market.

whereas the husk and sheath are considered as waste products. A palm sheds over 5-6 sheaths in a

• Crafts and techniques prevailing in and around the region of Areca plantation. (For easy

year, which is thrown away or fed to the cattle. The fruit which covers the nut, dries up to become

access and transportation)

husk and is used as fire wood. But over a few years the areca sheath has become a significant ma-

• Studying different techniques; which are already in use and also the ones that can be

terial. Areca sheath plates are fast replacing the thermocol or plastic coated paper plates and sold

applied to the material

as a one-time use product.

• How can I upgrade the value of Areca sheath? Also study about value upgradation in other existing natural fibers. For example, earlier banana fiber was only used for making ropes, mats

An initiative by Tjeerd Veenhoven has been exploring this natural fiber and made a few products like

but after the innovation of the banana fiber extracting machine, it is used for a variety of

footwear, bags and book covers. When dipped in a natural oil solution, the sheath acts as like leather

things from apparel to home and living products.

like material, thus making it possible to make a variety of products.

• Field visits to help understand the labor/ artisans working around the system.

2. My position

• Drawbacks of the Areca sheath. • Understand crafts and techniques used in other natural fibers (specifically banana fiber

As a product and textile designer, I will be exploring Areca sheath as a raw material which

and grass).

can be used in various fields of art and design. My proposition is to implement various


techniques such as weaving, dyeing, extracting fiber, etc. to upgrade the sheath into a few

3.2. Experimentation

samples of ready and tangible materials. As a designer, working and changing or upgrading

The research leads to the experimentation phase where the conclusions from the previous step are

the material to its best is bliss. The areca sheath is a very adaptable material. It has some

used to make a tangible solution. Techniques and processes can be applied to the material to ob-

properties of leather like flexibility, high tensile strength, water resistant. It can be hardened,

serve how well or poorly the material reacts to it. This is the step where most of the research can be

it can be molded, and the possibilities are endless.

implemented but at the same time, more research is to be done to enable more possibilities.

3.3. Exploration A few successful experiments can be then explored more which could lead to product ideas. Developing the experiments to be made into products is an important step. More research can be done to help develop a product idea. 3.4. Prototyping This is the stage when the explored material and the product idea comes together to form a tangible outcome. The prototype can be made and tested and then altered if necessary. This step also includes planning the production and marketing of the final product. The final result of this stage includes: the final product, the business plan. 4. Materials and Resources Areca sheath which is the main material of the project can be locally sourced. The Areca

B R I E F: Exploring and experimenting with the areca sheath as a raw material, which can replace other synthetic materials. My experiments aim at upgrading the material by processing it to obtain a certain quality. My focus will be on connecting the techniques and crafts which are indigenous, thus making an artisan and product friendly material.

palm is grown widely in regions around Bangalore. A small unit which makes Areca sheath plates is 10 km away from Yelahanka new town. Since I will be trying to incorporate Areca sheath in local crafts and techniques, I will be using secondary raw materials which are easily available in the market. 6. Research questions: •Which current techniques and crafts can Areca sheath be fitted into? •Can Areca plates be reused again? (either for the same use or turned into some other product) •How can the sheath be value upgraded by using any of these techniques? •How can I make the sheath a ready material which can be used in any design sector? •What value can I add to the material and the business around it? •What kind of a market will these products serve? •Will these techniques affect the property of decomposability? •Is over use of Areca a major concern? How will it affect the environment? 7. Timeline 1st August - 13th August -

Secondary research

16th August - 27th August -

Primary research + Experiments

29th August - 1st September -

Seminar 1

6st September - 17th September -


19th September - 24th September - Experiments 26th September - 1st October -

Experiments + Explorations

3rd October - 6th October -

Seminar 2

17th October - 22nd October -

Mockups + Prototypying

17th November - 12th November -

Final products + Documentation book

14th November - 17th November -

Seminar 3



Based on the primary and secondary research related to crafts of India, I played with the material to get a few interesting outcomes.



i compared the Areca sheath to other market available materials like leather, fabric, jute, choir, banana bark fiber, paper,etc. Following are the techniques used in my experiments: Weaving, Dyeing, Stitching, Printing.


Weaving: Strips


2 18



- Soak Areca sheath in glycerine + water solution (1:10) for half a day. - Cut strips of Areca along the grain (for Image 1) or against the grain (for Image 2) - Stick the warp strips on a surface using a masking tape. - Insert weft strips

- The weaved sample (Image 2) with strips cut against the grain is more flexible than the other sample (Image 1) - Areca strips have similar properties of bamboo strips. - Strips can be weaved to make baskets, mats, table tops,etc.

1. Strips cut along the grain 2. Strips cut against the grain

Weaving: p e e l (t o p l a y e r)





- Soak Areca sheath in glycerine+ water solution (1:10) for half a day. - Cut a piece of the sheath (square) - Start peeling the top layer from a corner. - Peel the top layer off the piece. - Flatten the piece on a surface. - Cut strips of the peeled top layer (process on the previous page). - Stick warp strips on a surface using masking tape. - Insert weft strips.

- The top layer is water resistant. - The peel is almost like a paper. - The weaved sample is thin, flat and flexible.

1. Top layer/ peel of the sheath 2. Weaved peel sample


Weaving: twisted strips & cotton yarn PROCESS:


2 20

- Soak Areca sheath in glycerine + water solution (1:10) for half a day. - Peel off thin strips of the sheath layer by layer. - Twist the strips. - Let them dry. - Set up the frame loom using cotton yarn as warp. - Insert twisted strips (plain weave) - Secure top & bottom using cotton yarn.

1. Twisted strips 2. Weaved twisted strips with cotton yarn as the warp

screen printing




- The oil paint used to screen print scrapes off easily due to the smooth top layer.

1. Screen printed samples 2. Printing screen being placed on Areca sheath


stitching: Running stitch PROCESS:


2 22

- Cut the pieces of sheath which are supposed to be joined. - Double the cotton thread. - Overlap the pieces & poke holes using the needle. - Start stitching the two together.

1. Stitched sample 2. Zoomed in view

REMARKS: - Stiches should always run against the grain. - If the stitches are along the grain, the sheath splits apart.

Stitching: cross stitch





- Cut two pieces of the sheath ( they should join each other perfectly) - Make holes in both symmetrically at required distance. - Take two needles with cotton thread. - Start stitching in a crisscross manner.

- Stitches should run against the grain or else the sheath splits open

1. Zoomed in view 2. Stitched sample which can be folded completely


dyeing: Reactive dye (g r e e n)


2 24



- Boil the pieces in caustic soda solution (5-10%) for 3 hours. Wash pieces. - Bleach pieces for one hour. - Bleach the pieces for 1 hour ( 4 gm sodium silicate/ 1 L water) (16 ml hydrogen peroxide/ 1 L water) - Wash the pieces. - Add reactive dye (Green) on water. - Let it boil for 30 minutes. - Add 4 spoons of salt. - Let it boil for 10 minutes. - Wash the pieces with cold water.

- Reactive dyes cannot be used fot the Areca sheath as the sheath does not catch this type od dye. - The peel has a nice translucent effect.

1. Dyed sample of Areca sheath and peel 2. Zoomed in view of the dyed Areca sheath

dyeing: direct dye (g r e e n)





- Boil areca sheath in caustic soda solution ( 5-10%) for 3 hours. - Wash the boiled pieces. - Bleach the pieces for 1 hour ( 4 gm sodium silicate/ 1 L water) (16 ml hydrogen peroxide/ 1 L water) - Wash the pieces. - Add direct dye (Green) on water. - Let it boil for 10 minutes. - Add 4 spoons of salt. - Let it boil for 10 minutes. - Wash the pieces with cold water.

- The sheath which is with the top layer hasnt absorbed the dye, whereas the sheath without and the top layer and the top layer, both have absorbed the dye

1. Dyed Areca sheath without peel, Areca sheath with peel, peel 2. Dyeing the samples


Fiber extraction PROCESS:


- Boil the pieces in Caustic Soda Solution (5- 10%) for 3 hours. - Wash the pieces with water. - Bleach the pieces (1hour) (4gm sodium silicate/ 1L water) ( 16 ml hydrogen peroxide/ 1L water) - Wash the pieces with water. - Start peeling the layers of the sheath. - Remove the fibers from the peels (save the peels) - Remove extra lignin attached to the fiber using fingers. - Flatten out fibers on a surface. - Dip the leather in palm leather solution for 2-4 days. (OPTIONAL)

1. & 2. Extracted fiber

2 26

areca papyrus PROCESS:



- Flatten out the peels and thin fibers left while extracting the Fiber - Flatten the peels in one direction only (for Image1) or in a random direction (for Image 2) - Let it dry - Iron it/compress it to even it out

1. Areca Papyrus in one direction 2. Areca papyrus in a random direction




Areca sheath is a versatile material which has various properties for endless possible explorations. I observed that each experiment has its unique features and each of them can be made into market ready products. I take forward the Areca fiber and Areca papyrus experiment to explore more of their properties and possible outcomes.


fiber extraction & Areca papyrus

STEPS: 1. Boil in Caustic soda ( 3 hours) 2. Bleach (Optional) (30 mins) (Sodium Silicate + Hydrogen per oxide) 3. Let it cool down 4. Peel areca layers 5. Pull out fibers from the strips 6. Flatten both (fiber and strips) out on a sheet of plastic.





Three products can be acquired from this process. They are: - Lignin - Thick fibers - Thin fibers (which is made into Areca papyrus)




Lignin is a class of complex organic polymers that form important structural materials in the support tissues of vascular plants Lignins are particularly important in the formation of cell walls, especially in wood and bark, because they lend rigidity and do not rot easily. Used as: - Binders (biodegradable plastics, ceramics, Plywood manufacturing, etc.) - Dispersants (Cement mixes, Leather tanning, Dye and pigment, etc.) - Emulsifier (Pesticides, Dye and pigments, Wax emulsions, etc.)

Areca fiber is a brittle fiber which can be softening by soaking it in the Palm leather solution. Its a fine and clean fiber which is brown in colour unless bleached, which makes it off white. The fibers run through the sheath, thus the length of the sheath determines the length of the fiber. The fiber has low extensibility and low resilience. The fiber can be dyed using direct dyes and is water absorbent. Can be made into: - Ropes - Weaved and made into garments/ lifestyle products - Body and cleaning scrubs - Brushes (cleaning, painting) - Mattress

Areca Papyrus is made by layering thin areca fibers and lignin, thus no external adhesive is used in the making. It is completely made out of Areca, thus it is a biodegradable material. it is water absorbent, the layers separate out when soaked in water. It is light in weight and translucent. This papyrus has high tensile strength and does not break when its folded or rolled. And because its made by layering, the size of the papyrus can be made according to the need. It can also be easily moulded. Can be made into: - Moulded into tableware Stationary - Packaging - Luminaries - Window blinders - Room dividers



Areca fiber products So much can be done using this clean and strong fiber. Following are a few possible products.



Ropes today are made out of various natural fibers like Jute, Choir, Cotton, Sisal, Manila, etc. Ropes are used widely on a daily basis. Its used for packaging, pulling/lifting objects, made into lifestyle, and home and living products,etc.


2 1. Areca rope 2. A bundle of Sisal rope 3. Different thickness of ropes available in the market



Scrubs: Body & cleaning Scrubs made out of plastic do not decompose easily and are harsh on skin. A number of scrubs are made out of natural fibers like Choir and Loofah gourd. An Areca scrub could be used for both body and cleaning.




1. Areca scrub 2. A Choir scrub for cleaning 3. A Loofah gourd scrub for face and body



Areca fiber can be weaved to be made into a net like structure. The closeness of the net can be adjusted according to the need. Products like window nets, table mats, window blinds, etc can be made.


2 1. Hand woven sample 2. Zoomed in view of the sample 3. A table mat made out of Jute



weaving: with cotton yarn



Weaving Areca fiber with a cotton yarn increases strength and proves to be more flexible. It adds colour and a different texture. Areca fiber can also e weaved with other natural yarns like Jute, Linen, Silk, etc. The weaved fabric can be used in the fashion industry. It can also be used for Home and Living, and Lifestyle products.

3 1. Zoomed in view of the sample 2. Sample being weaved on a frame loom 3. A woven sample (Areca fiber + Cotton yarn 4. Table mats made out of other natural fibers and cotton yarn



Paint brushes or calligraphy brushes can be made using Areca fiber. Fiber which are softening using the Palm leather solution are better for this use. I made 5 iterations using different techniques and different body materials.


Round Brush: Pen body This brush is made by using the body of a pen after removing its refill. The Areca fibers are soaked in the Palm leather solution for a day. The pen is made in such a way that one can replace the fibers once the bristles are damaged. The bristles can be replaced by simply pulling out the fibers from the mouth of the pen and adding a new bunch to it.


Flat brushes: Paint brush body This brush is made using the commercial paint brush body. I replaced the animal hair bristles with Areca fiber (soaked in Palm leather solution). The silver foil is a part of the soft drink can. Areca fiber brushes can be easily manufactured using the same technology and machinery used for making animal hair and synthetic fiber brushes.


Round Brush: areca sheath This brush is made by using the Areca sheath and Areca fiber. The sheath is soaked in water for a few hours. It is then rolled up around the Areca fibers. The rolled Areca sheath is secured using Areca fiber. This brush is completely made out of Areca and a few drops of fabric glue at the ends of the winding fiber. The bristle can be replaced when its damaged. The brush can also be a one time use and throw.


Round brush: areca papyrus This brush is made using rolled up Areca Papyrus, the ends are secured using Areca fiber. This brush is made completely out of Areca sheath and thus is biodegradable.


flat brush: areca sheath This brush is made using Areca sheath. This brush is inspired from Japanese flat brushes which are made from wood. Here, two pieces of Areca sheath are stitched together are placing Areca fiber in between the two. The bristles can be replaced when damaged. The brush is only made out of Areca, thus it is biodegradable.



Areca papyrus Following are the three types of Areca Papyrus developed using the thin fibers of the Areca sheath.


Areca papyrus: Rando m direction This Papyrus is made by spreading out the thin fibers in a random direction on a plastic sheet. The sheet does not tear or slit easily. When folded, it does not break.


Areca papyrus: Uni directional This Papyrus is made by flattening the thin fibers only in one direction. It tears and splits and breaks very easily in the direction of the fibers.


Areca papyrus: Bi directional This Papyrus is made by spreading out the thin fibers in two perpendicular directions. The bi directional fibers make the Papyrus strong split- proof and tear- proof. It can be easily folded and rolled with causing any damage to it.


Areca papyrus Products The Areca Papyrus has properties similar to paper and leather. Following are few of the possible products out of this material.




Weaving: Bi directional Strips of Areca Papyrus (Bi directional) are weaved together to form a flat surface.


Wallet: Bi directional Since the material has similar properties to leather, wallets and bags can be made out of the Areca Papyrus. A wallet with one pocket for currency notes and two small pockets for card has been stitched on an industrial sewing machine.


moulding: Random & Bi directional The Areca Papyrus can be easily moulded into any shape. The images show a plate moulded on an available dye using a hydraulic press (used for moulding Areca sheath plates). The material cannot be used for making food plates due to the presence of Caustic soda. It can be moulded for packaging purpose.


Luminaires: Random & Bi directional Since the material is translucent, it looks beautiful against light. Thus luminaires can be made using the random and Bi directional papyrus.


future scenario The two materials (Areca fiber and Areca Papyrus) developed in this project have infinite product possibilities. Both can serve as an alternative material to other synthetic or natural materials. In a country like India where craft practice are abundant and exceptional, these two materials can serve as successful raw materials. The process of extracting them are labour oriented, and thus can create job opportunities. The versatility of the fiber and Papyrus will help craftsmen develop new products. The process of extracting the two materials and quality of the materials can be improved over time with research and development. I would prefer the materials to stay in the natural state and not go through any chemical treatments.



As a Product and Textile designer, it was an great opportunity to work with such a versatile material. The possibilities of opportunity spaces are endless. The Areca sheath was which considered a waste product, is now being using abundantly in the plate making industry. Shortage of the sheath has emerged during the past few months. The Areca plates which can be reusable are thrown away instead due to lack of awareness. Thousands of plates are sent to landfills on an everyday basis. Even a biodegradable material like this cannot degrade in the landfills. A material is only sustainable when its use is controlled. Over consumption destroys the life cycle of a product and thus resulting in ecological imbalance. This project has made me question the concept of commerciality which is stuck to every product available in the market. The need for shift towards natural materials is an important initiative, though it is more important to initiate concepts of recycle, reduce and reuse or Cradle to Cradle. This project has helped me develop a sense of responsibility towards the use of materials and that the tiniest of value upgradation makes all the difference.



Reference News/27854/hands-holding-a-small-tree-hidesy_jpg_ opt688x764o00s688x764.jpg




My primary thesis project revolving around exploring a natural fiber and creating product out of it.


My primary thesis project revolving around exploring a natural fiber and creating product out of it.