Material

Himalayan balsam

By

Made in

Biodegradable 242 Circular 223 Composite 101 Plant-based 176 Recyclable 123 Regenerative 54 Vegan 93 Algae 11 Arabic gum 5

Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam

Photos: Matt Davies, Daisy Ruse

Ecological Restorative Craft

The objective of this project is to design a meaningful object that symbolises the ecological degradation of our landscape, employing thoughtful considerations of form and materiality. This endeavour involves the intentional utilisation of materials crafted from the organic matter of local non-native, invasive species, which pose challenges to our local environments. Embodying a discourse that transcends conventional notions of sustainability, the project embraces an ethos of restoration within local communities. Its core emphasis lies in promoting ecological restoration through the application of craft practices. Whilst also tapping into a deeper context of turning this material into a tangible, recognisable object; the urn. Which culturally symbolises ‘death’, encouraging the audience to contemplate the life cycle of materials, and that we, too, shall return to the earth one day.

This project set out to harness and utilise a material that is considered a ‘pest’ and therefore is usually burnt or skipped in plastic bags. Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a non-native, invasive species that's causing ecological damage to our River Wye and local native biodiversity. This project is focused on ecological restorative craft; removing this plant from the environment, drying, processing, and re-purposing the organic material into a crafted item to bring value to the act of removing. This material has been bound together with Brown Algae and tree sap, meaning it is entirely biodegradable and non-toxic.
The process of this material is to fully fry the organic material and then grind the plant matter down into fibrous/ small pieces/ dust, and soak overnight with recycled paper/ toilet tubes/ egg cartons. Sieve the material and squeeze as much moisture out as possible, then a tablespoon of Gum Arabic & Sodium Alginate sprinkled over the top. Mix the mixture with your hands, squeezing and pressing along the way until you get a dough-like consistency, then sculpt or press into moulds. Sophie found drying the material in a heat box/ oven to work rather well. When the material is wet, is takes on the form of clay, but dries as solid as wood.

Making process

Dry and grind the plant material up, soak the plant material, sieve and squeeze the majority of the liquid out, add a single spoon full of Brown Algae extract & Gum Arabic, mix with hands until dough like consistency, [add more algae and Arabic if required], mould into form, leave to dry somewhere ventilated, preferably warm.

Text submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank. For information about reproducing (a part of) this text, please contact the maker.

Ingredients

himalayan balsam, brown algae, Arabic gum