Aeggis - weaving material synergies
'Aeggis' is an attempt at redefining the cyclical approach with which we can perceive, produce and use impermanent biological materials.
With emerging problems of material consumption and waste management in the 21st century, we need to reimagine and question our approach towards materiality going into the future. This can only be achieved by re-aligning our understanding of materials in synchrony with the natural ecological cycles that surround us.
Global egg production for the year 2018 was 78 million metric tons, contributing approximately 8.58 million metric tons of eggshells which are being discarded mostly as waste. On reaching landfills, the egg white attached to eggshells starts to decompose and rot promoting the growth of microbes that produces amides, ammonia & sulphides when breaking down organic matter, creating a smelly by-product which attracts other pests. On average, 11 billion eggs are laid annually by hens in the UK, generating 80,000 tonnes of eggshell waste each year.
The initial phase of the project focused on developing different materials from waste eggshells, understanding problems of eggshells in landfills, the increasing consumption and commercialisation of the biological reproductive system of the chicken while reflecting on ways in which we can foster and develop our food systems.
The calcium carbonate-rich layer is formed within 26 hours inside the chicken. Their main purpose and function are to protect and support the growth of the embryo throughout its phases. Its main function to protect and shield translates through the final use and application of the surface developed from this material, also synonymous with the actual function of an eggshell which is to protect and shield the growing life inside an egg.
'Aeggis' draws from farm based cycles and explores the value of waste in our lives. Through this project, ‘waste’ eggshells are transformed using slow making techniques combined with wool, materialising biological outputs from farm based lifecycles in a localised context. Eggshells play an important role in supporting and protecting the growing embryo through its developing stages. Rich in calcium carbonate, this material is explored as a source for soft woven textile applications challenging the innate nature of eggshells. This project gives new life to the eggshell, the very epitome of life itself.
Eggshells are brought together with local wool using weaving techniques. The transient farm based material stories manifest through tangible applications of the woven surfaces. These traditional yet modern woven textiles represent the egg’s properties of protection and covering, embodied by the materials used in their making.
Upon reaching the end of the life cycle, the material can be placed back in acidic soils that are a result of overworked and over-exploited land use. Calcium carbonate from the eggshells in the material helps bring up alkaline levels, which improves soil health. It helps regenerate soil health when put back into the earth and has no harmful effect on its surroundings or other entities or people it comes in contact with.
Collaborated with Rookery Organic Farm in Flansham to understand the system and the protocols they follow to ensure the good health and well being of their chickens and eggs. The field visits, interviews and interactions were to acquire more information about the ethical front of the poultry industry that relies on the reproductive biological system of the chicken. All eggshell waste was sourced from a local café called ‘Royal Café’ located on Leyton high street. About a 10 minute walk from the maker’s residence. Hassan Sahin who owns and runs the café generously agreed to collect all the eggshell waste for a weekly collection for 15 weeks.
PROTOCOL FOLLOWED FOR EXTRUSION OF EGGSHELL FILAMENTS
A 2%calcium chloride bath is prepared and set aside.
Weighing all the ingredients on a weighing scale.
Eggshell powder-60g (70 micrometer particle size)
Once all portions are ready-Glycerine, oil, alginate and eggshell powder are added to water in this order. These ingredients are stirred gently to mix them well. Alginate usually forms lumps in the liquid concoction. There are removed by blending the mix for 20 seconds using a hand blender. Once all the lumps are out, the. The mixture is poured into a syringe. The piston of the syringe is lubricated with oil for a smooth extrusion process. The syringe piston is pushed into the syringe and a filament is extruded directly into the CaCl solution. CaCl crosslinks with the alginate and forms a membrane around the filament, holding the material mix intact in its filamentous structure. The filaments are allowed to rest in the CaCl solution for 10-15 minutes and then out. The filaments are allowed to rest and air-dry for 24 hours. After that, they are put inside a dehydrator at 35-40 degrees celsius for 7 hours. Once the cycle is over, the eggshell filaments are brittle because of losing a lot of their moisture content.
They are allowed to rest for another 24 hours, this allows the material to stabilise to the moisture and temperature. The filaments absorb moisture and eventually become flexible.
The eggshell filaments are now ready to be used.
Text submitted by the maker
Eggshell waste, sodium alginate, glycerine, oil, water and shetland sheepwool
Saumya Singh, Paul Cochrane