The Woodland Factory

The time had come to make that push toward a 3D form, something to demonstrate the potential of this woodland based process.  I designed a component table leg that requires simular replicas and strength to function. Through my previous tests I knew there were all sorts of factors and restrictions that narrowed what form it could be.  Firstly, the pressure needed to be even across the whole part, varying thickness of material would hinder any successful bonding.  The fluidity of the material is obviously very static, so high or steep sides would be difficult to achieve.  Sides would also not bond well because of the nature of the applied pressure being in only one direction.  The tooling itself would have to improvised as anything CNCed and made to withstand these pressures and temperatures will cost a fortune.

Considering these factors, this table leg was designed and David Watson, my very awesome and helpful Blacksmith set to work fabricating a strong press mould.

Next, to scale up my Woodland Labortory into a Factory where I can boil up my shavings and compress my big mould efficiently.

Digging up sticky mud littered with rocks and stones is not much fun.  It took a week to dig the holes for the bath fire pit, the compression press kiln and build the kiln walls.  These walls were built with a tradtitional cob material; the reclaimed earth and clay was mixed with straw and used as a mouldable cement.  Houses were traditionally built this way, providing breathable and insulating walls that could last for centuries, all from the materials around the site.

The weather gods were not on my side.  I had one window of opportunity for Dom Bush, the filmmaker to film the process in good weather.  In the run up to that day a freak flood, just in a 5 mile radius around my wood, descended and my newly dug holes were filled with water.  The whole area was thick with mud everywhere.  I had one day left to finish and get it fit for filming.  Luckily Jonathan Leech, a local woodturner had a huge dumpy bag of Yew and Cherry shavings to hand that covered the mud beautifully and made The Woodland Factory useable.  A close call, but a very happy turnaround.

Willow me

We have begun to record a short of my work in the wood.  Dom Bush, from Land & Sky Media has been visiting me in Jan's Wood to film a hefty Willow tree being felled. We are also playing with stop animation to capture the regrowth of the tree, and the changing envirnoment throughout the spring and summer.

Watch this space for more updates on this exciting project.


BacktoSchool: Design for the Real World & Enhanced Bodies

I'm back at school! After a wee sabbatical to gain some skills and develop a network of talented people I find myself lost amongst new faces in familiar spaces.  London feels a far cry from Cumbria. Feeling a little disjointed I took myself to the current exhibition, SustainRCA and the Helen Hamlyn Centre of Design from within my University.  The whole show was incredibly inspirational and clearly showcases the hard work done by all participants.  Helen Hamlyn Centre's focus is on enhancing human health and well-being through social research and development.  The Sustain RCA exhibited student projects addressing the resource and environmental impacts of human behaviour.

Particular projects that stood out for me were

  • Hal Watts' ESource.  Combating the extreme health and environmental problems arising from E-waste sent to districts in Africa and India, where young boys burn plastic coated wires to extract the precious metal inside, Hal has developed a low-tech sorter.  Brilliant!
  • Addressing our future outlook for nutrious food for a ever growing global population, Ento introduces the advantages of insects!

Finally, being back at Uni means the fun first project of the year.  A course-wide brief which gives a good introduction of yourself at the start of the course, as well as flexing our experimental design muscles after a long summer.

Here's my presentational video, a tongue-in-cheek solution to one of my biggest fears.

Enhanced Bodies: How can you make your body do the impossible?