Friday, 26 August 2016

Bank holiday closure

MoDiP will be closed on Monday 29th August along with the rest of the AUB campus for the bank holiday

We will reopen Tuesday 30th August.

Susan, Pam, Katherine & Louise

Monday, 22 August 2016

BXL photographic archive #0110

In 2010, MoDiP was donated a large archive of images relating to a single company. Bakelite Xylonite Ltd, also known as British Xylonite Ltd or BXL, was possibly one of the first British firms to successfully manufacture a plastics material in commercial quantities. The company was established in 1875 and after a long history went into liquidation in the late 2000s. The images we have in the collection are concentrated around the 1960s through to the 1980s and show us glimpses of the manufacturing process, products and the company’s employees during this time. We plan to share an image each week to give a flavour of the archive. If you want to see more you can view the whole collection on our website.

This week’s image shows a Bakelite Ltd van and two employees.
To get a better view of the image and find out more have a look at it on our website

We are still working on the documentation of the archive, some of the images we know more about than others. It would be fantastic if we could fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge, if you know anything about the company or specific images it would be good to hear from you.
Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Friday, 19 August 2016

Did you know? #47

Did you know that all of our past exhibitions are available online?

Work, rest and play with plastics

Where would we be without plastics? The material of the modern age, plastics in one form or another have been developed to outperform their natural counterparts. They pervade all aspects of our daily lives, often un-noticed, unseen and unappreciated, from the moment we wake, helping us to perform our daily activities and through the hours of sleep. They enable us to conduct our lives in a more comfortable, efficient, colourful and safe environment than we might without them. Plastics have influenced and enabled developments in technology and their relatively low production costs mean that countless numbers are able to share in the benefits, enjoyment and enrichment they bring to our lives.

This exhibition explores some of the ways plastics have been used when we work, when we are resting and when we play.
Louise Dennis (Assisant Curator)

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Precious intrigue

Recently whilst in the library, one of the latest collections from MoDiP caught my eye. From a distance, I couldn’t quite make out what the objects were, I could see that they were plastic and highly colourful and assumed they might be part of a child’s toy or design parts from kitchenware. It was only when I got closer I could see they were in fact intricate and rather beautiful jewellery pieces designed and constructed using 3D printing, laser cutters and innovative design technology.

Photographs taken by Caroline Everitt

This collection struck a particular chord with me, as it reminded me of a project I recently gave to some international photography students entitled ‘Ancient Future’, whereby they were asked to find and photograph examples of history and the contemporary world coming together. 

Photographs taken by Caroline Everitt
It is interesting to see examples in the collection such as the decorative horn hair combs, which in their day, would have taken a huge number of hours and hand skills to create, and would only then have been available to the very rich and privileged, alongside contemporary designs.

I am something of an old fashioned person, I prefer vinyl to MP3, books to kindles, and conversation to social media. However, by using modern technology and plastic designs we are able to create such items that everyone can learn from and enjoy, that showcases the skilled craft involved in creating such beautiful items.

Photographs taken by Caroline Everitt

Caroline Everitt (Guest blogger)

Caroline is Senior Short Courses Officer at the Arts University Bournemouth and was intrigued by MoDiP's Precious plastics? exhibition currently on display in the library case.

Monday, 15 August 2016

A different view #38

There are many ways to look at the objects in the MoDiP collection.  With this series of posts I want to highlight the interesting views of objects that we may ordinarily miss.  These include the underside of an object, the surface pattern, or traces of manufacturing processes.

Title: Vacuum jug
Designer: Unknown
Manufacturer: Thermos
Object number: AIBDC : 003557

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Friday, 12 August 2016

Guess the object

MoDiP has the kind of collection that you may think you are very familiar with. We have objects which we all use every day, and some pieces which are more unusual.

By looking at this distorted image are you able to guess what the object is? What do you think it could be used for?

Post your answer in the comments below or to find the answer click here and you will be taken to the MoDiP catalogue.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Sarah Packington jewellery

MoDiP currently has an exhibition of jewellery in the library cases there is work dating from the 1600s looking at natural plastics all the way up to the present day:

One of the makers whose work is included is the talented Sarah Packington who we have asked to share a bit about herself and her work:

More about my jewellery : background, inspiration and techniques

I have made things ever since I can remember... tiny furniture from cardboard, miniature handbags from sweet wrappers, dolls clothes etc., before moving on to costumes for school productions and clothes for myself. I considered studying to be a theatre designer or architect, but wanted to be involved in 'hands on' making.

I attended a Foundation Art course at Camberwell school of Art in 1987/8, and a
BA(hons) at Brighton Polytechnic in Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics between
1988-1991 which involved making anything out of those four materials.

AIBDC : 007439

In the second year of my degree, my interest was sparked by a 'mass production' project: I made a series of brooches from oxidised and corrugated tin cans. From then on I was hooked on jewellery, and discovered the endless possibilities of dying acrylic... masking (preventing dye from reaching certain areas by using masking tape, Copydex glue or elastic bands), sand blasting and multiple layering of colours to create jewel like effects.

Rose Hill Workshop has been my base since 1994. There are currently eleven members, and it is a very friendly supportive working environment.

I am drawn to interesting textures, colours and patterns in ceramics, textiles, paintings, architecture and in nature. Anything with a slightly 1950's 'Festival of Britain' feel gets my attention. I like the simple, light and joyful shapes in subtle colours.

With all my designs strive to use acrylic in an innovative and personal way, finding new ways to give a potentially cold, mass produced material a precious hand worked feel. I aim to make my jewellery very wearable, and as affordable as possible.

I love working in clear acrylic which I texture and dye. Some of my designs also use opal white or charcoal grey coloured acrylic for contrast. I use mainly silver findings, (catches, ear hooks, etc.) and some nylon covered stainless steel cable as necklets.

A lot of my time is spent at the polishing wheel, and also use a band saw, pillar drill and electric belt sander. I use a small disc attachment on a hand held mini drill to score lines in the acrylic. My favourite tool is probably the hotplate I use to dye my pieces, as that is where the 'magic' of the colouring process happens. Soldering (joining silver pieces using a hand held torch) and assembling is all done at my jewellers bench.

Some shapes I cut myself; others I draw on the computer and get laser cut by a specialist company.

My aim is to continue developing my practice, making unique jewellery that people love and want to wear. I have enjoyed getting to know my customers as I have been doing more craft fairs and direct sales in the last couple of years.

My jewellery is sold mainly in the UK in craft galleries, independent jewellery shops and gift shops. Also through my own website, on and at craft fairs. 

AIBDC : 007438

Tate Modern have been stocking my jewellery in their gift shop since 2010, and I was delighted when they ordered a special collection to be sold at the ‘Matisse Cut Outs’ exhibition in 2014.

For more information on acrylic jewellery this book is very useful:
'Precious Jewellery from Plastics: Methods and Techniques (Design and Make)’ by Chris Bond

Sarah Packington (Guest blogger)

This text was originally featured at