Marlene Huissoud grew up with insects because her father is a beekeeper and she has always been fascinated by the creativity of insects.
She is interested in the viability of utilising insects and their waste streams to create future craft artefacts. Already science is exploring the potential of insects for food production and to satisfy our future dietary needs. However, Huissoud is primarily interested in using insects as co-partners in the design process, rather than consuming them she is interested in how we can work with them and explore how their natural waste streams could be harnessed in the production of valuable craft artefacts in the future. Initially, she was interested in two insects which we currently farm, the common honey bee, which produces propolis, a natural bio-degradable resin. Alongside the Indian silkworm, which discards its hard cocoon when it reaches maturity.
'From Insects' explores the potential introduction of a new material into the design process that could be realised in the near future. Resources and manufacturing processes are more and more industrialised and have enabled mass consumerism.
From Insects challenges both ideas by using rare and precious materials from the insect world, to make precious objects which draw attention to those materials not currently explored in the design process which have important and useful properties to consider. They are not materials or substitutes because they give new properties to the materials that already exist.
Such materials may also have an important impact on how humans perceive insects themselves. Introducing a new approach to design-making by celebrating insect craft gives us the opportunity to question our perception of what is around us. It offers us a new way of looking at the material and by giving it new values, it contributes to new cultural aspects of the material itself. Humans are principally scared of insects and this project aims to bring together the beauty of our living with the mini.
Huissoud has made a collection of vessels from propolis using different glass techniques because black propolis is similar to glass. The vessel is one of the most common products from glass that we know as an industrial material.
The propolis was manipulated as glass but has revealed other properties that gave it unique and unexpected characteristics (eg colours, textures, and facility to manipulate engraved glass).
As Huissoud wanted to develop her materials using traditional techniques, she went to work in a glass workshop to learn from a specialised craftsperson. They worked with different glass techniques including Venetian techniques, glass blowing and engraved glass. For example, they tried many Venetian techniques, which specifically makes long stripes from a material. Although it worked it was too fragile to be considered for the making process in this instance.
After many experiments, they succeeded in blowing the propolis using the same basic technique as with glass. The process is long because a kiln has to be specifically adapted for the propolis since the melting point of the propolis (100°) is lower than the glass(1200°).
Many engraving techniques were also developed throughout the project. By using the engraved glass techniques it can remind us from where the material came from, and replicate specific textures found in the insects world.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Pierre Huissoud (father)
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