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How to Make an Electric Toaster from Scratch

“Are toasters worth the inhuman scale on which they’re produced?” That’s the question fueling Thomas Thwaites’ project&...

Dan Gould
Dan Gould on February 10, 2009.

“Are toasters worth the inhuman scale on which they’re produced?” That’s the question fueling Thomas Thwaites’ project  to make a working electric toaster from scratch. Currently part of the BOOM work in progress show at the Royal College of Art in London, the Toaster Project addresses issues of sustainability, mass production, DIY culture, and shows the herculean process that goes into creating even a cheap piece of electronics.

Thwaites is literally doing everything himself in building a toaster from the ground up – from extracting oil for making plastic to mining and processing iron, copper and nickel. And he’s faced numerous obvious challenges trying to recreate massive industrial processes on a small scale. Melting mineral into iron proved near-impossible -first hairdryers were used, then a leaf blower and finally a microwave, which only produced a tiny amount of the finished product.

The artist explains the thoughts inspiring the Toaster Project:

The project won’t be a ‘how is it made?’ industrial promo or an anti-industry tirade either. It’s about scale, the total inter-reliance of people and societies, the triviality of some (anti-)globalisation discourse, what we have to lose, and DIY.

…The point at which it stopped being possible for us to make the things that surround us is long past. To redress the balance I’m making a mass produced object by hand – creating a domestic product.

[via We Make Money Not Art]

Thinking...