Using Human Hair as Ink? “The Colour of Hair” Project

We humans naturally produce fertilizer from our bodies, but we’re well past living in the agricultural societies that would make that a useful trick. Two other worthless things our bodies regularly yield are nail clippings and hair.

Very long hair can be used to make wigs, but that requires time-consuming cultivation. What about regular or short hair? Industrial designer Martijn Rigters reckons it could be used “to create surface treatments and decoration on diverse metals.” And yes, he knows it will gross some of you out, but says that “by considering hair as a useful material rather than a material to evoke distasteful emotion, ‘The Colour of Hair’ [project] proposes controlled and sustainable printing wonders.”

“Drawing inspiration from traditional ceramic techniques, the process uses natural fibers to create a surface treatment and decorative patterns on a diverse range of metals. By applying the hair to a carefully heated surface, the material carbonises instantly and acts as a form of ink that has similarities to etching and anodising. This reaction is caused by the hair’s main protein, keratin. The transformation during this process is permanent and durable.

“We are currently working on expanding the range of materials for our printing process, exploring the possibilities of a variety of wool, cashmere and fish scales, as well as the potential of printing on ceramics for a new range of applications.”

“Surfaces are available in numerous tile-sizes up to 60 x 30 cm, on either aluminium or brass substrates. Finished with a clear nano-coating for durability. Please

get in touch for an overview of prints, patterns and applications.”

It’s a matter of time before someone comes up with a use for nail clippings.