ben brady

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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One Response

  1. LML says:

    this is nutty

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