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ben brady

final studio boards (crappy jpegs)

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REINVEST(igate) the pistachio shell




My final project is a re-investigation of the shell bowl from a previous exercise.  What does it mean to create something out of nothing?  I wanted to try to create something beautiful and useful (?), using minimum or no mechanical processes, and that would be free or next to free for someone to re-create by themselves.  Why should designed products be limited to those who can afford to shop at expensive boutiques and retailers?

I chose to explore the possibilities within nuts, particularly pistachio nuts. Nearly every place has access to some type of nut or shell.  By creating a mixture of shells from pistachios or some other nut or seashell and white glue, forms and shapes could be created.  My first attempt created a bowl, by pressing a mixture of shells and glue against tuper-ware.  The bowl is structurally sound for its purpose but relies on many tangential moments of connection creating a sort of random overall structure.

Further iterations should explore adding a non-mechanized process to physically change the shell to create a finer mixture of shell/glue.  The idea is that this could provide more connections on a smaller scale, creating a more sound structure and perhaps a more pliable, and moldable material.  This can be done by using a mortise and pestil to crush the shell before mixing with glue.  This is then rolled into sheets approx. .25in thick and allowed to dry enough that it becomes moldable.

What are the limits with this


The new mixture of smashed shells and glue proved to be an interesting building material.  It was more difficult to work with and more messy than the original mixture with whole shells.  It required being rolled out by baking pin on emparchment paper first and drying for a while before you had any type of pliability.  There proved to be a direct relationship with the fineness of the the grain of smashed shell and the amount of pressure required to make it set.   The smaller the grain, the mor difficult setting became.  However, these sheets of the new material could have their setting time sped up by adding pressure to both sides as the glue cured.  This is simialr to particle board or mdf, or any composite that requires pressure to take form.  The positive aspects of this material were that once it began to cure, you have a reasonably long working time before the glue becomes too stiff to mold.  The material can also be reworked and is in a way almost thermosetting.   When re-heated, the glue softens and the material can be re-worked.  This works best with heat guns and does run the risk of evaporating too much of theliid from your glue, adding brittleness to what is already a brittle material.  The material lends itself to pouring under pressurized conditions.

Peanuts were more fiberous and were used to make things like a very dense hotplate and a light place-mat.

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upcycled bowl redux… vase

For my final FutureCraft project, I am re-visiting the upcycled bowl.   How far can this idea of reusing nut shells be pushed?

pistachios are expensive…. so why not get another use out of the them when you are done eating?

So far, I have expanded my shells to Peanuts as well as the original Pistachios.  The pistachio worked well for a bowl, but lacked certain things I was interested in.  While the bowl held up pretty well, there were lots of little holes and the bowl was a far cry from being able to handle anything liquid.  Now, I am experimenting in more low-tech processes that I can apply to the shell before sculpting it into a bowl or whatever.  I have tried to grind the shells and create a mixture that I can manipulate.  So far, I have shelled a lot of peanuts and ground them.  I combined them with glue to get a granola/oatmeal textured goo.  I have rolled it out with a pin, baked it, frozen it, and tried to cut it.  The ultimate goal is to create an entire place setting (bowl, cup, plate, and placemat) made of upcycled nut shells.  We shall see.

so the peanuts were too weak and fine to make any type of structural mixture without compression.  It was pretty much like trying to make MDF by hand.  It sort of doesn’t stick together and it absorbs too much glue.  This still might serve as a placemat or something, I am not sure.  I moved onto just crushing pistachios again to get different shapes.  I made what could be the start of a plate and then I rolled out some sheets of the material to let dry.  I am working on reviving the material with water and heat after the glue has set to make forms.  I have displayed an ideal form for this shape above.  I would love to make a nice vase for the table to go along with the bowls.

PEANUTS OUT!  The peanut shells are sort of a disaster.  But, I have a new idea now.  The pistachio shells will handle the form making without too much trouble, but, they are very porous.  If I mix the finer peanut shells with the pistachios, I may be able to create a form that is more stable with the peanut shells acting more like a binding agent or mortar.

perhaps a clay base could be nice to hold the water and then I wouldn’t have to muck around with mixing the peanuts with the cashews.  Another problem with peanuts is that when they mix together they are ugly.  Pistachios are better looking than peanuts.

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