In this session we explored mending, circularity, extending the lifespan of objects and reusing. I really liked the idea discussed at the beginning by Bridget that sustainability is the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on the earth forever. Often sustainability is seen as a way to save materials or save specific species of living organisms (save the turtles) rather than the actual end goal. Such forward thinking of looking into the WHY we want to save materials etc was interesting to me as I tend to think in more short term goals.
Making reference back to David Pyes writings was also interesting as I have read his book about the workmanship of risk. Looking at it from a point of repair was different to how I initially read it, initially seeing it as the way to create new objects and things from new materials, rather than taking old, broken things and using materials to create something new with what you have.
Ideas of different types of repair as said by Richard Sennett:
Static repair - fixing exactly what is wrong
as opposed to:
Dynamic repair - altering the function/form, upgrading the thing
This intrigued me as, again, I had not considered multiple types of repair. I have always seen fixing something and trying to return it to its original state to the best of my abilities AS repair, rather than using broken pieces to create something entirely new or upgraded.
Our first few tasks consisted of working in groups to analyse an existing object, exploring its qualities and how it could be redesigned to be more circular. We were tasked with 'chair' and decided to focus on the university injection moulded plastic and metal chairs. We came up with the idea to get rid of the plastic, as although long lasting and durable, it would be challenging for any owner of the chair to recycle or repurpose themselves. Instead, we replaced it with a fabric covering that would slot easily onto the metal frame, almost like a hammock. This fabric could also be sold as a pattern for people to repurpose their own fabrics into the chair seat. If the seat becomes worn, its easy and simple to slide off the frame and stitch a new patch of fabric onto to seal. This allows people to add sentimental fabrics, maybe from an old t-shirt they have outgrown for example, onto the chair so as not to throw them away but reuse them in a way they can still see them everyday. Furthermore, we had the idea of adding an extra later of fabric on the base for added weight support and also to act as a pocket - scrap fabrics can be stuffed inside to add padding to the seat and if the original fabric seat wears out, it can be cut up and stuffed into a new one so there is no waste. The metal frame would be made of one metal type so that it could be sent back to the manufacturers if it becomes broken, melted down and made into a new frame without any wastage.
I found this practical element of the workshop really fun. I've always hated throwing away old clothes with holes because there is often a sentimental attachment, but darning seemed like an old-fashioned thing that no longer fitted with todays society or fashions. I used to love working with textiles and sewing, but this is a completely new technique to me. I really enjoyed this type of repair, it felt like a customisation rather than 'fixing'. The pattern reminds me of the centre of a flower with each stitch representing a little pocket of pollen. The underside of the mending (picture on the far right above) also was pleasing, the loops that allowed me to adjust the tension of the stitches give the fabric added texture and also remind me of floral iconography, with rounded petals around the exterior of a pattern and smaller dotted marks located more centrally.
The marks also remind me of a cross hatching drawing style, similar to the marks I've been making on my ceramics. Could I somehow transfer this new knowledge of darning across to my ceramic making? Either by revisiting my idea of weaving through ceramics or in recreating the movement of the thread? I enjoyed the possibilities of working with textiles and the un-do re-do of stitching - if I made a mistake, I could simply pull out the threads and start again or re-do that row. It could be interesting to explore this within ceramics, if I make a mistake I could either keep it and make a feature of 'mistakes' and 'faults' within the working process. Or, alternatively, explore working with broken ceramics. If a piece cracks or breaks in the kiln, reusing those pieces and continuing to work on that piece as an object. Usually if something breaks in the kiln it can be crushed up and added into clay as grog. Instead, if I do have anything that breaks, it could be exciting to continue working on it and explore methods of repair.
Repairing our own broken objects:
The idea of sentimentality is appealing in exploring repair. I obtained this mug on my foundation year while studying in Manchester and its one of the only physical objects I own that remind me of that time. So, when the handle broke a month or so ago I was sad and annoyed that I'd been clumsy with it. Here I wanted to repair to fix the object, so that it could once again be functional, as opposed to turning it into something completely new. Using epoxy resin, I reattached the broken pieces of handle back together and back onto the cup. I was initially going to apply some black form card (coloured adhesive) that Bridget brought in to cover the white cracks that still showed, but decided against it. I quite liked that it wasn't returned to its original condition completely, I was never going to restore it back to its previous strength and so leaving the cracks visible is a nice reminder of the care I have for this object and my desire to put it back together.