Friday, 30 January 2015

Do you know what this is?

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)

Monday, 26 January 2015

A different view #6

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: Sofono Spacemaster heater
Designer: Ralph Ormiston,
Manufacturer: Sofono Electrical Division of Federated Foundries
Object number: AIBDC : 0_2497


Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Friday, 23 January 2015

Did you know? #14

Did you know there is an object analysis form available on our website?  

http://www.modip.ac.uk/resources/learning_activities/object_analysis

This is a form to aid researchers and students in looking at objects.  It can be used as a starting point and adapted by teachers and lectures for their own needs and learning outcomes.

An example of how it has been used at the Arts University Bournemouth can be found on the website too.

http://www.modip.ac.uk/resources/teaching/Object-analysis

 Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Plastics in print


On 10th and 11th December, MoDiP played host to a team from Dorling Kindersley who were here to photograph objects from the collection for a new book entitled ‘Design – the Definitive History’. We booked a small room for the shoot that quickly became filled with equipment: reflectors, diffusion screens, lights, power generators, tripods, an assortment of backgrounds, power cords, sync cords, more cords, a laptop and, perhaps the most important bit of kit, the camera (a tethered Mamiya Leaf with a Phase One digital back). 

A modern camera worth as much as a family car, capturing the image of a Polaroid Instant 30 land camera AIBDC : 005272 that would have cost the equivalent of two tickets to the cinema back in the 1970s. Note the obligatory blue, object handling gloves!

I learnt some great photography tips. For example, did you know that the slightest imperfection on a dark object can scatter the flash light, causing a series of white dots to appear on the final image resembling a fine layer of dust? Or that when photographing transparent objects, using dark card to reflect the flash enables the capture of a finely, defined edge that would otherwise be lost in pure white light? Apologies photographers – you will probably know this already.

The images were all saved directly onto the photographer’s laptop as huge TIFF files which enabled him to clearly see distracting compositional elements, depth of field/focus issues as well as unwanted reflections or shadows. Once he was happy with the images, we would remove the object and supply the next one from their list. So, if you were in the library at that time and saw us walking continuously to and from the store carrying a variety of strangely packaged items, this is what we were doing.

I was surprised by how slow the whole process was, with each object requiring lots of changes to the lighting, diffusers, reflectors and backgrounds - it has certainly made me realise that the life of a professional photographer is far from easy. However, it was a really productive two days and we made some great new friends.

It is a real compliment that we were asked to supply design classics for Dorling Kindersley and it will be interesting to see how many of our objects get into the final book, release date May 2015 (ish). Here are a few of my favourite objects from the ones that were photographed:

Salad bowl with black servers resembling sparrows.  AIBDC : 006699. I love this so much I am going to buy myself a set to use at home.

A glow-in-the-dark puppy dog shaped stool. AIBDC : 006725. What’s not to like?

Ekco type A22 radio, 1945. AIBDC : 006891. This is huge, heavy and beautiful. I have a soft spot for Bakelite.

 Katherine Pell (MoDiP Administrator)

Monday, 19 January 2015

BXL photographic archive #0077

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 cross section of a transatlantic cable.


To get a better view of the image and find out more have a look at it on our website http://www.modip.ac.uk/artefact/bxl--0401

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, 16 January 2015

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, 14 January 2015

From Toothbrush to Typewriter

Researching the Collection

As with any new project, the starting point is research and since my last post I have been spending time behind the scenes at the museum and getting to know more about the variety of objects and the variety of plastics that are included in the Museum’s vast collection.

Whilst there are unusual and unique items, the main thing that strikes me about the MoDiP collection is that it represents the mass produced, seemingly worthless, “stuff” of our everyday lives. It is not things that you would initially expect to be worthy of a museum, but as a whole, the collection shows the value of, and our dependence on, plastics in every aspect of life today.

The Museum’s online resources www.modip.ac.uk/resources contain a wealth of information about the historical development of plastics as a material. The timeline www.modip.ac.uk/resources/curators_guide/plastics_timeline shows how just how far reaching the use of plastic has become over a relatively short period in history.

I have also spent some time learning about how a museum collection is administered. With over 12000 items in the collection it is vital to have a system in place which enables the museum to keep track of the location of all the objects at all times, for example, when they go on display in an exhibition, or are returned to storage.

As each new object is added to the collection it is given a unique reference number and its details are recorded in the latest volume of the accession register. There is also a digital database that holds more information, but these handwritten books are still used to maintain the basic details and references and provide a complete history of the way the collection itself has developed.

Looking through these books you can see when a large donation of objects has been received, for example from the Worshipful Company of Horners who have loaned their whole collection of items made from horn which is a natural plastic, or just a single item purchased because of its special design qualities

Finding Objects

I often use found objects as a starting point in making my artwork so my first task is to “find” some objects amongst the 12,000 plus items in the collection that I can use as my starting point for making the book and prints that I outlined in my proposal.

Instead of just choosing my favourite items in terms of design or classification, I devised a method of randomly selecting objects from each of the seven volumes of Accession Book, the Loans Out book and the two lists which record the whole collections belonging to the Worshipful Company of Horners and Plastics Historical Society which are now on long-term loan to the Museum.

My aim was to select ten objects that show a good representation of the how the collection was put together over the lifetime of the Museum, as well as reflecting the diverse uses of plastic and some variety in design style.

I selected a plastic carrier bag, manicure machine, nylon stockings, a toothbrush, toy typewriter, stool supported by “Attila” the Gnome, a moulded horn snuff box, butter dish, dictating machine and an Olympic beaker. 


These items will all appear in my artist book. I am pleased that the key classifications of house and garden, health, care & grooming, fashion &costume, toys & games and packaging are all represented.

Along side the research I have been learning how to use plastic as a material and have been using the thermo vacuum forming machines in the 3D workshop to heat and form plastic to test the process that I will use to make embossed plastic pages for my book. The materials I need for the book pages have been calculated and ordered and I am looking forward to using plastic as a medium and combining printing techniques with plastic manufacturing techniques to make the book.

I have also been working on designs for the series of prints that will accompany the book. I am planning to use one or two of the objects that I have selected to develop into the prints - at the moment I am favouring the toothbrush and the typewriter, but this may change!

Carrie Mason (Student Creative)
http://www.carrie-mason.weebly.com

Monday, 12 January 2015

A different view #5

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: nB Ware yarn holder
Designer: Unknown
Manufacturer: NB Products
Object number: AIBDC : 0_6460


Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)