EcoChic: Bark Cloth
We have seen recycled cell phones melted down to create unique countertops, crab shells manipulated into soft fabrics, and now bark used for anything from car interiors to light fixtures.
Bark cloth is a material that has been around for centuries and comes from the inner bark of the Mutuba tree. This material is 100% plant fiber and at the forefront of creative design. Traditionally, Bark cloth was used for clothing, cultural rituals, and crafts. Now its breadth of applications stretches over industries such as automotive, lighting, sports equipment, wall treatments, clothing, furnishings, and the arts.
The collaboration between Germany and Uganda to create Bark Cloth, which Trendease reported on in July 2005, has now branched into developing and producing more materials under the header Barktex. This is refined Bark Cloth, which has undergone transformations through different manipulations of the fabric like varnishes, coatings, leather agents, or dyes. While Bark Cloth is extending their research and finding new spots in the market to grow, someone had to make sure the heritage of bark cloth continues on.
The knowledge about the production of bark cloth is transferred orally and through practical application from generation to generation. Because of modernism more young people in Uganda are moving to urban areas and this has significantly declined the making of bark cloth. Luckily, UNESCO launched a project, in December 2007, in order to revitalize the practice of bark cloth making in Uganda. These projects goals included: revitalize and help transmit knowledge and skills of bark cloth making (particularly to the younger generation), stimulate the renewed use of bark cloth, and establish national recognizing of the skills required to make bark cloth. This amazing collaboration has created more jobs in Uganda and allowed generations to learn about the important practice of making bark cloth.
The Bark Cloth company continues to develop and grow their company to produce ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable fibers materials for use in a growing number of fields. Get a feel for how far one material can stretch across many fields with these images.