Container 3.0 – Bacterial Cellulose

Jingwen, Interdisciplinary Sculpture, Interactive Art, 2024

Project Overview

I have always had a special connection with ‘skin’ (I’m not referring specifically to skin here, but any object that creates a sense of envelopment). I take pleasure in observing how skin can be contorted, stretched, lifted, and imprinted. I am drawn to the states brought about by the tension of force and matter pulling out of the skin. It is an invisible yet seemingly tangible force, a state that allows me to feel two completely opposite and even contradictory sensations at the same time.

And coincidentally, bacterial cellulose is a almost perfect ‘skin’, the texture, the color, the plasticity, the way it grows… To make it a material to use, you have to ‘kill’ it. I want to sculpt it into this ‘spine’ structure that brings it second chance to be ‘alive’. The fact that it is skin-like also gives it this feature of preserving what’s beneath.


  • I grew my cellulose in this big tub and rinsed it for a week to get it ready for use.
  • Since i want it to be like skin as much as possible, i dye it with osage orange and ground madder, both are natural dyes.
  • It is very different to dye a piece of bacterial cellulose, I wasn’t sure how well it will take the dye and how it will look after i wash the dye off. So i did several tests with the small cellulose.
  • I also covered a piece of fabric on top of the cellulose to make sure the whole thing is soaked into the dye.
  • After soaking it in the dye for one day, i took it out of the tub and set it on a piece of plywood to dry out some water, but not fully dry. I also stretched it as much as i can so it’s big enough for my model
  • After several days of drying, i soaked it into UV curable resin (i will update the name later) for one day.
  • The cellulose got much thicker after the resin is soaked in.
  • Then I prepared this big box with an opening for the uv light.
  • Curing time! I placed it on top of my 3D printed model and pressed as much as i can to get the shape. But because it got swelled so much, the shape is vague.
  • I cured it for about 3 hours under uv light.
  • The result wasn’t ideal so i decided to use my own technique to make the shape more visible.
  • I pressed it with foam and clamped them as tight as i can.
  • After one night, the shape became much more obvious. And the cellulose still feels a little bit soft.
  • After critique, i put it back under the foam and kept pressing it.
  • I find that it become much thiner and much transparent, and the shape reveals itself much more obviously.
  • I wonder what will happen to it as time goes by.
  • I’ll keep updating!

Learn More

Instagram @5n.wen