Saturday, 1 October 2011

Molecular Weave in Liminal Apparel T-off

Liminal Apparel is a NZ store which sells fair-trade, organic t-shirts and bags. At the moment they're running a great competition on facebook giving away 20 fair trade organic screen printed t-shirts. All the entries are now in and voting is open until 16th October. There are 18 entries, and some great ones in there. I entered the Molecular Weave piece, showing the structure of cellulose in the shape of a t-shirt. 

Cotton fibre is almost pure cellulose (about 91%). Cellulose is an organic compound with the chemical formula (C6H10O5)n and is an incredibly common compound, being found in the cell walls of green plants, and in algae. It is a straight chain polymer, and has a crystalline formation aided by intra- and inter-chain hydrogen bonding. This bonding holds the chains together and allows formation of microfibrils (fiber-like strands) with high tensile strength. These strands are very important in cell walls.
There are a few different crystalline structures of cellulose, with the different structures relating to different configurations of hydrogen bonding. Most natural cellulose is Cellulose I, and it occurs in two forms: Iα and Iβ. Cotton cellulose contains both these structures, but is primarily Iβ.
In this t-shirt design, the black dots are carbon, red is oxygen, and white is hydrogen. The dotted white lines show the hydrogen bonding in the Iβ configuration of cellulose. I like how the t-shirts in the competition are organic (in the sense of grown without the use of certain pesticides or fertilizers) and the cellulose molecule is an organic molecule (a molecule containing carbon). I also like that the crystalline structure of cellulose resembles the weave of a t-shirt, with the chains going in one direction, and hydrogen bonds linking the chains.


  1. Hello!

    Just voted for your great Tee...It is a thrill that I actually understand what you are talking about in your post - thanks to my wonderful Science Tutors at Uni!
    Best of luck in the comp.
    Robyn Lee x

  2. Hey good post! It's true that organic t-shirts are being used by people these days and it;s good to know about it! I myself also prefer to wear fair trade organic t-shirts and I really love to wear them.