Plaster Works’ Young Creatives

In September we advertised an opportunity for Design Placements on our Plaster Works collaboration with Good Waste, launching over half-term in Chingford Mount.

The seven young adults who joined us contributed huge amounts of energy, creative ideas, and thought-provoking conversation across the four weeks of design and installation activities. We’re so grateful for their efforts and can’t wait to celebrate everyone’s hard work when we open 228 Chingford Mount Road to the public on Saturday 23rd October!

Here’s a low-down of what we got up to….

WEEK 1: GOOD WASTE

The group met Raf, one third of material design collective Good Waste, at their studio in Tottenham. We learned about the collective’s principles, rooted in the circular economy and highlighting the potential value of so-called “waste” materials – often by creating beautiful objects, sometimes sold through Selfridges.

We explored the idea that if objects were made of materials that could be broken down and re-purposed, it would remove the need for sourcing virgin materials and using finite natural resources. The concept of waste would no longer exist, as materials go from ‘cradle to cradle’ and are reincarnated in new forms to suit new purposes.

Raf showed us his recipe and process behind taking discarded plaster board, extracting the plaster, and making it good as new. The plaster needs to be heated, crushed, pummelled and filtered before it is ready to be mixed with pigments and water.

The method mimics the “Scagliola” technique deployed traditionally in Italy to imitate marble, creating highly polished and patterned sculptures or architectural detailing. Enrique, our resident woodturner, had created wooden moulds on the lathe, which the mixed plaster was pressed into in order to create bowls.

As these were some of the first moulds and mixes made, not all were a success. But it was a great opportunity to learn and create solutions together for our next attempts!

WEEKS 2+3: BLACKHORSE WORKSHOP

As Enrique worked on developing the wooden mould designs, our group moved on to the next range of objects needed for Plaster Works: storage! The site, a disused shop on Chingford Mount’s high street, has been stripped back completely and renovated by Waltham Forest Council in preparation for our public making workshops. Raf’s design for the space seeks to showcase the beauty of the recycled plaster, and the best way of doing that means literally covering the walls with it.

Raf shared a method he’d developed whereby we apply the plaster/pigment mix to wooden boards in order to make shelves. The combination gives the shelves structural integrity, along with a coating of recycled plaster which can, at a future date, be removed and recycled once again.

The group were now seasoned professionals at the scagliola technique and got to work making their own moulds for the shelves. The next phase was finishing the shelves, by filling any holes and polishing any rough edges with sandpaper or scalpels. By the end of these two workshops the group had produced over 16 shelves, and even found a number of ways to improve on Raf’s technique!

WEEK 4: INSTALL

The final week was 5 days of full-time hard graft at the Plaster Works site. The space at 228 Chingford Mount Road had previously been County Cameras, closed for about 13 years, and remembered fondly by passers-by as a place where they had had their 35mm developed or children’s passport photos taken.  Since acquiring it in August, the space has been thoroughly renovated by the Council, but there were still lots of little jobs to do – cleaning, painting, and installing the work the group created in the weeks before.

We’re still working on completing the site ready for the public opening on Saturday 23rd October. You can book your tickets for the public making experience by following this link, and see the incredible transformation our group of Young Creatives have made for yourself!

SPECIAL THANKS

Thank you to our wonderful group, Cassandra Wideman, Charlie Derbaer, Haleema Ahmed, Jahba Anan, Jake Stevenson Grimberg, James Thompson, Lucine Bassa and Rashmika Gunathilaka!

Follow our journey transforming waste and space into Plaster Works on Instagram.