Friday, 23 February 2018

What could this be?

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, 21 February 2018

MoDiP visits the Design Museum


Very belated the MoDiP team had a trip to the relocated Design Museum. Our expectations were not high. Most of the reviews we had encountered were not great… but we were very pleasantly surprised. The space John Pawson has created is wonderful. You could argue that such a large void in such a prime location is wasteful but we found it aspirational and what more can you ask of a design museum? 
 

The Design Museum

We also found its long-term display structured around ‘Designers, Makers, Users’ worked. It opens up useful ways of understanding and engaging with design. Visitors have to fall within at least one and sometimes more that one of these categories. Design is a dialogue between these three protagonists. It was a really good experience until it came to our subject: design in plastics. 

Designer Maker User
The exhibition started brilliantly with a people’s choice of over 400 plus objects. I spent ages trying to work out what proportion were made of plastics or had plastics parts without succeeding but it was certainly more than three-quarters. 

Crowd Sourced wall, Design Museum


The exhibition was not arranged around materials and there is no reason why it should be. There was, however, a number of references to a dramatic increase in mass production of cheap, identical products and even a section on ‘making’ yet no mention of injection-moulding, which, depending on your viewpoint, is the hero or culprit responsible. In fact, since the late 1970s, more and a greater variety of products have been made of plastics than of any other materials’ group. Interestingly a lot of space is given over to a magnificent 3D printer (perhaps sometimes visitors see it printing?), which is currently a niche process but may well provide the future for manufacturing. Even here, though, the part played by plastics was glossed over.

We were delighted to see three ‘Valentine’ typewriters presented on separate pedestals giving them iconic status but disappointed at the description of the material, as just ‘plastic’, when specific metals elsewhere are identified. 


Valentine Typewriter
 
Then we came to a space intended to inspire would-be designers to try out designing in different materials. It includes named sample sheets of copper, aluminium and brass and also a material called ‘acrylic’, which is, of course, a plastic, probably the very same as the boxes that protect the Valentine typewriters. Additionally there is a clutch of corrugated materials described just as plastic. Which plastic, we wondered?

The wonderful thing about plastics is that they are a huge family of materials, each with different potential. They can even be made to the recipe to meet a particular requirement, as in the case of formula 1 cars which have more than a little in common with the Ferrari exhibition down the stairs. Plastics have transformed the vocabulary and potential of design but they were nearly invisible in the commentary provided within this exhibition. 



LaFerrari Aperta on display at the Design Museum

Susan Lambert, (Head of MoDiP)

Monday, 19 February 2018

BXL photographic archive #0143

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 an accelorator being mixed.

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--0549

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 February 2018

Horners collection

The Museum of Design in Plastics houses two collections alongside our own.  One of these collections is that of the Worshipful Company of Horners.   

Here I will highlight just one of the objects in the collection.


Decorative carved horn

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Monday, 12 February 2018

A different view #71

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: Baby bowl
Designer: Martyn Rowlands
Manufacturer: Boots
Object number: AIBDC : 003429.1



Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Friday, 9 February 2018

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, 7 February 2018

MoDiP @ The Creative Exchange


We are pleased that a MoDiP project, Confronting plastics preservation, is one of 14 projects featured in ‘The Creative Exchange’, an exhibition on show at the Arts University Bournemouth until 16 February, which showcases collaborative projects undertaken by the University. The exhibition highlights the processes underpinning the projects and captures the journey from conceptual brief to creative output. The exhibition is supported by European Union funding.



Confronting plastics preservation was undertaken by MoDiP in collaboration with the Plastics Subject Specialist Network (PSSN) with support from Arts Council England. The PSSN shares expertise in the history, development, care and interpretation of plastics in order to enhance understanding of the key role played by plastics in modern society. Membership is open to all collections of plastics, public and private; to archives with material relevant to plastics; and to societies in the plastics subject areas. You can find out more about the PSSN and see the projects it has undertaken here





Museum curators have a deep understanding of the care needed for the natural materials held in their collections. However this is less often the case with plastics, a large group of laboratory-made materials which are more or less vulnerable, react differently to the environment, degrade in different ways, and require different care if their life expectancy is to be maximised. It is this absence of expertise that Confronting plastics preservation sets out to address. 



Confronting Plastics preservation led to the development of an online resource. It consists of a short film by Emma Crouch, I say RAAR, giving a flavour of a workshop held at the start of the project, films of the papers given at the workshop, an account of standard practice for the care of plastics and a series of case studies featuring specific objects, the condition of which is being recorded photographically every six months for five years. We are currently in year 4. ‘The Creative Exchange’ exhibit features the films and one of the case studies: a shoe made of polyurethane in which the plasticiser (adipic acid) has migrated to the surface giving the shoe a white bloom and making it less supple. 



You can find out more about Confronting Plastics Preservation on the MoDiP website.

Susan Lambert (Head of MoDiP)

Monday, 5 February 2018

BXL photographic archive #0142

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 squeezable tube being tested.

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--1588
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, 2 February 2018

PHS collection

The Museum of Design in Plastics house two collections alongside our own.  One of these collections is that of the Plastics Historical Society.   

Here I will highlight just one of the objects in the collection.

Fischer sewing machine

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)