Co-Obradoiro Galego or 'Collaborative Galician Creation Space' is a collaborative project between three basketmakers and a bio-designer looking at bio-techniques to help regenerate and revive our Galician craft heritage.
Galicia is located in the northwest of Spain, by the Atlantic ocean. The Atlantic ocean has supplied the Galician and Spanish populations throughout history, resulting in 602 tonnes of seafood exoskeletons being wasted every year. This is a danger to the environment and human health. Moreover, this situation has worsened in recent years, due to the manufacturing of fishing tools moving away from traditional fishing crafts.
Fishing tools that, in their origin, were made by local basket makers with wicker or wood but today are made mainly from plastic by large foreign industries. Nevertheless, what these vegetable and non-vegetable materials hold in common is their flexibility.
Specifically, the decline of basketry has intensified in recent years because of the reforestation of non-autochthonous species whose wood cannot be used for basketry and the disappearance of rural life.
Therefore, the objective of their project was to develop a flexible and biodegradable biomaterial from a flexible biopolymer found in seafood exoskeletons (usually a waste product or unused waste source): chitin. Chitosan is derived from chitin – a fibrous compound found mainly on the hard outer skeletons of crustaceans and in the cell walls of some fungi. It is an organic and non-toxic biopolymer that when degraded in soil, acts as a fertiliser and fungicide and helps nutrient absorption. Through using a lactic acid fermentation process, that requires a whey solution from the seafood shells. It is possible to obtain natural pigments.
With this biodegradable material, they wanted to celebrate Galician basketry techniques, Galician basketry weavers and the Galician culture through a material that disappears but reactivates the Galician economy.
During the production stage, traditional hand-weaving crafts with vegetable fibres are applied simultaneously alongside new extrusion bio-techniques, generating zero waste and encouraging the development of techniques relevant to a contemporary lifestyle.
While the design outcomes, a series of four weaving pieces, aim to rebuild Galician identity, reinterpret existing components present in the Galician culture and reclaim crafts using elements from the sea. We are challenging techniques and crafts, through producing a regional design of our time, relating the local with the global, establishing links between culture and community, re-connecting the seafood industry and basketry.
First, a well-known Galician symbol, the scallop shell, was translated into a basketry weaving technique, weaving the biomaterial from the king and ox crab. Secondly, a wooden fishing trap skeleton with a visible net in the extruded biomaterial. Thirdly, a reinterpretation of a typical Galician basket for carrying fish on the head, called patella, mixed with the traditional Galician hat, again, weaving the biomaterial from the king and ox crab. Finally, a design outcome that celebrates basketry as the first craft because of its original use as a method of food preservation applying the biomaterial in a flat extrusion process.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Chitosan, lactic acid, water
Basketmakers | Rubén Berto, Enrique Táboas and "Carliños" González ,Creative Director Photoshoot | Olalla Armada, Models Photoshoot | Esperanza Piñeiro, María Martínez, Rosa Rodríguez, Olga Leston, Maruja and Dominga