Pottery is a universal and widely applied craft that has endured for thousands of years. But while people have mastered this craft and have optimized the material, its production method has remained relatively unchanged. Nowadays, pottery is seeing a huge surge in popularity as a creative and harmless escape from the stresses of contemporary life. But if we unpick every aspect of ceramics, we will identify quite a few problematic areas. One of them is the energy-consuming and carbon-heavy kiln firing process.
But what if we could find alternative ways of creating ceramics; ceramics that do not require kiln firing; ceramics made by living organisms and biological processes?
Industrial biotechnology, one of the most promising technologies around, has the potential to address some of the world’s significant challenges, such as creating new alternative materials that are more environmentally friendly. The potential is enormous.
BacTerra is a project proposing the use of soil-born, non- pathogenic bacteria to create alternative ceramics that do not require kiln firing and are naturally solidified and glazed by the biomineralisation process. By providing a making method where ceramic waste and living organisms are her main ingredients, Nicole Chrysikou hopes to start a conversation about the promising possibilities of biotechnology within pottery and traditional crafts.
Text submitted by the maker
Ceramic waste, Bacteria
Dr Shem Johnson, Specialist Technician, Grow Lab, Central Saint Martins Daniel De Oliveira, Chemical Engineer, University of Cape Town