Marlene 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 utilizing insects and their waste streams to create future craft artifacts. Already science is exploring the potential of insects for food production and to satisfy our future dietary needs, however, Marlene is primarily interested in using insects as co-partners in the design process, -rather than consume 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 artifacts in the future. Initially, Marlene is interested in two insects that we currently farm, -the common honey bee, which produces propolis, -a natural bio-degradable resin and the Indian silkworm, which discards it’s 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 by both ideas by using rare and precious materials from the mini world in a new way to make precious objects she is drawing attention to those materials that are currently not explored in the design process and that have important properties to consider. They are not materials of substitution 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 crafts 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 attributes new cultural aspects to the material itself. Humans are principally scared of insects and this project may help to bring together the beauty of our living with the mini.
Marlene has made a collection of vessels from propolis using different glass techniques because the 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 a glass but has revealed other properties that gave it unique and unexpected characteristics (eg colors, texture, facility to manipulate engraved glass).
As Marlene wanted to develop her materials using traditional techniques, she went to work in a glass workshop to learn from a specialized craftsman. 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 engraved techniques were also developed throughout the project. By using the engraved glass techniques it can remind us from where the material came, and replicate specific textures found in the insects world.
FROM INSECTS by Studio Marlène Huissoud (Video)
Pierre Huissoud (father)
Studio Marlene Huissoud