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Flax fiber cell pattern

Flax is the source to linen

At Flora-L Design we love to work with linen fabric.  So it was a lovely surprise to find this wild flax (Linum usitatissimum) plant during a hike just outside of Banff National Park in Canada. ⁠ Linen fabric comes from fibres produced by the flax plant. These fibres are amongst the longest cells produced by plants. Their thick cell wall gives them their strong tensile strength and good thermal conductivity. Linen textile fibres are produced in the stem of the flax plant and are durable, absorbent, breathable, and bacterial resistant. Flax, when cultivated as a crop for oilseed or for fibres, is suited to temperate climates and requires less agricultural inputs such as water, fertilizer and pesticides. These are just a few of the reasons why we focus on printing our designs on linen fabric!⁠

Flax plant

Flax fiber cells are amongst the longest cells produced by plants

This microscope image is rather unique compared to the rest of examples we have shown you. Many microscopic views come from photographing transversal slices through a plant organ. But this image here below shows the cells in a longitudinal view. The plant was actually not sliced for this, but the cells were removed from the stem with a solution of glacial acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide. If you imagine that fibre cells are shaped like a long tube or cylinder, a longitudinal view shows their length. However, in a transverse slice of a fibre, the cell will look more like a circle. This is because you are looking down the top of the tube and you will not get an idea of how long the cells actually are!

Flax fibers

Optical phenomenon inside a plant

The microscope image above was taken under microscope with polarized light. These cells disperse the light like a prism. Isn’t it fascinating that you can find this optical phenomenon inside a plant cell? Where does that come from? Here is an explanation: Fiber cells are surrounded by thick cell walls made at large proportion of cellulose. The cellulose occurs in microfibrils. Cellulose microfibrils are like tiny ropes that are well aligned at a certain angle all around the cell in a spiralling manner. This symmetric and highly coordinated arrangement makes them work like a prism when polarized light is shine onto them. As a result, we see the rainbow effect in the microscope image. This feature makes our flax fiber patterns so stunning.

We tested a range of colors of this pattern, not being able to decide which one we like most. Do you have a preference? Right now (Nov 2020) this design in dark blue is released on linen at Tygverket Stockholm.     

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