After much experimentation,right proportion of 70 per cent areca nut husk and 30 per cent cotton was blended to make fabric.
Growing up in an areca farm in Kerala, Georgy Sunny Chandrankunnel was witness to heaps and heaps of areca nut shells going waste. They either became a breeding ground for mosquitoes or ended up being burnt as firewood.
Though he knew the shells were left rotting with no use, he could not come up with a creative use for them till he started studying fashion technology.
Understanding textile and design as an engineering student in Kumaraguru College of Technology, he came up with a novel idea of using the areca nut husk to make fabric. When he discussed this with the department faculty, it was suggested that he take this up as a full-fledged project with a few of his classmates.
So, Georgy along with S. Saranya, and D. Suresh, under the guidance of faculty member S. Kavitha, worked on the project.
“It took five months to develop the fabric out of the husk. The soft fibres had to be removed manually from the shell. This took a long time. There was no earlier study to fall back on and we had to take the project forward on a trial and error method. Since the fibre was too short and soft, it did not match with any other kind like jute or cotton,” says Mr. Georgy.
After much experimentation, the right proportion of 70 per cent areca nut husk and 30 per cent cotton was blended to make fabric.
Explaining the proportion, Mr. Georgy says that 100 per cent cotton is expensive and 100 per cent areca nut husk fabric is not a viable option, hence the blended fabric helps reduce cotton use and cost to a considerable extent.
After much work at the laboratories in the college, the team developed the right proportion for shirts and draperies. Since the fabric is heavy and durability is good, he says it is best suited for shirts, draperies and furnishings. Here the blend is such that the warp is of cotton and weft is of areca nut husk. The fabric also has dyeing and bleaching properties.
Mr. Georgy believes that the fabric will have better use in the fashion world. He has even tried hand at embroidery, with the help of his grandmother, on a sari using the thread
Over and above all these uses, Mr. Georgy believes that using the husk will reap better benefits for the farmers. “They can sell the shells for a good price. It will be put to good use, which will be both environment and farmer-friendly. Also, the fabric made out of the husk is eco-friendly and contains no pesticides whatsoever,” he adds.
Having secured admission to apparel design course in National Institute of Design, he aspires to take this project forward with advanced research and professional guidance.