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Flax root pattern

From flax to linen and so much more

Can you imagine all the things that can be made from a flax plant grown for fiber? The oil from its seeds is used for paint and animal food. Fibers are spun into threads and woven or knitted into fabrics for use in hometextiles, clothing, outdoor textiles, furnishing fabrics but even composites for leisure products or composite furniture. Non-woven linen fibers are used even for building and speciality papers. Any remaining parts can be used as compost in horticulture.⁠

We love flax and the resulting linen both for the beauty and properties of this textile and for the sustainable production process behind. Did you know that more than 80% of the world’s linen were produced in Europe, yet it’s in total today less than 1% of the world’s total textile produced.⁠

Flax plant

An experiment gone wrong

Although they are hidden below ground, roots are responsible for many critical functions of the plant. Roots absorb nutrients and water from the soil, they can serve to store excess sugars and starch, and they are important for anchoring the plant to the ground, giving it structure and stability.⁠⠀

Below you can see a microscopy image of a flax root. It is supposed to be an in situ RNA hybridization negative control. In situ RNA hybridization is when you make a probe molecule of nucleic acids labelled with a dye, and you mix it with (in this case) tissue from flax roots, and your probe molecule should bind to its matching RNA molecule in the cell. Sounds simple, right?⁠ Well this experiment was using a probe that is not supposed to match anything in the root cells at all. So the expected results would be to see no dye at all. ⁠This type of experiment is called a negative control, it is used to make sure your experiment is working accurately.⁠ Unfortunately this control proved that there was a lot of non-specific binding, meaning nothing could be scientifically concluded from this experiment.⁠

Flax root in situ hybridization

A failure for science, a win for Flora-L

Even though the scientific experiment, went wrong, the outcome was still a pretty microscopy image that we turned into a pattern. The uniformity of the flax root cells combined with the strong saturation of the dye and the intricate cellular details created a very interesting and unique geometric pattern.  We like to call it “natural plaid”!⁠ It looks intriguing in all kind of different colors.

For Christmas we are releasing this pattern in a bright red in our Spoonflower and Society6 shops. We have also designed storage baskets where this pattern is matched with rough linen for a beautiful item that you can use for nuts, fruits, as a plant pot cover or for storing whatever you like in them. Find those storage baskets made in 100% linen in our webshop. Here again you get a pattern that fits the material, as linen is made from fibers of the flax plant! 

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