We have been pouring plaster molds for slip casting in ceramics class. Plaster is such a wonderful material, I always found it a waste to throw away the excess from a pour; especially if I completely overestimated how much I needed to fill the mold. So these are a few artifacts from some of the fun I had with the leftover plaster.


The different shape and texture of each piece is the result of how thick the plaster was when I formed it, how my hand was shaped when I released it, and the motion I used when releasing it. When plaster is hardening, there is a 2-5 min window when the plaster is thick enough to retain certain shapes and soft enough to create smooth surfaces. I have to work fast so I am able to let go of myself and let each piece become what it wants to be.


I am always impressed by how uniquely each of them turn out. I found some pieces to ask to be handled delicately as if it is a polished gem I don’t want to leave fingerprints on. Others are baby soft and desire to be touched. When I lightly flick some pieces, they let out a ting. I like them all and I find myself trying to make room for them on my desk. This is a wonderful transformation from having been destined for the trash can. It is interesting how a simple manipulation of material can add significant value to the object.


I found this observation similar to Kenya Hara’s comment about a project by the architect Kengo Kuma, Cast-off Snakeskin Paper Towel. Kenya Hara describes it in his wonderful book, Designing Design…




“Next is a paper towel proposed by the architect Kengo Kuma. Made of washi (traditional Japanese paper) so thin and light that if you toss it up, it will float in the air for a few moments. The paper is embossed transversely with a texture that, from its scale, suggests a snake about 2m long… After washing up, dry your hands with one. That’s what they’re made for.


When I talk about them though, people often remark that they’re too good to use, that it would be a waste. But if they were not embossed, with a snakeskin pattern or anything else, we’d normally toss them in the trash. If some people think it would be a waste to use a paper towel that has become haptic through embossing, does it mean that the object has thus gained some kind of memorable value?”