Total Fabrication: bringing making to the gallery

TotalFab14There is something special about working directly with raw materials and using hands on making processes.  This contact enables the maker to build a deep understanding of the nature of the material they are working with, which, opens up many options from the conceiving of an idea, to fully resolving a piece of work.

Curated by Claire Murray, ‘Total Fabrication’ is a unique show bringing manufacturing to the gallery space at Craft Central, Clerkenwell, as part of London Design Festival 2014.           Based in east London, an area with a buzzing art and design community this exhibition offers visitors a glimpse into the working processes behind some of the objects on show and an opportunity to meet the makers.                          11 designer makers are showing a selection of innovative products for interiors that demonstrate a strong sense of materiality.  Materials range from turned paper and steam bent wood to pop riveted oil drum and forged steel furniture and cast concrete and jesmonite objects.  Making demos will take place daily at 1:30 and 5pm, in a room adjacent to the main gallery space.  The work created in the demo room will form a continually evolving installation throughout the show.  The demo schedule can be viewed here:

The show opened today and as an exhibitor and demonstrator, over the next week, in this blog post, I will attempt to record how Total Fabrication unfolds.

Initial images of some of the work in the show:

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Demonstration room ready for Newtons bucket demo by Silo Studio, casting jesmonite and coloured additives in a metal spun bowl. Attua Aparicio and Oscar Wanless of Silo Studio use industrial materials and processes adapted with a craft approach.  They developed a machine to spin the metal bowl containing jesmonite, which allows gravity to form the jesmonite into a bowl.  They can control the colours and quanities used in each bowl and the design to a certain extent, but every spun bowl is unique and has an element of surprise.   The lathe in the demo room is for a paper turning demonstration by Pia Wüstenberg.  I imagine the room to change a lot over the next week as more pieces of work are added to it.






Silo Studio getting ready to start.  Being a potter, I was very interested in their destroyed, completely reconstructed and resurrected potters wheel, which, has it’s own speed changing dial to control the spinning.  There’s a video running in the space so visitors who miss the demo can see the action.  It’s interesting to watch the video of the spinning jesmonite casting alongside the video of the paper turning on the lathe at the same time.

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It was great to meet some of the other makers during the first day of the show, find out about their work, and talk about the possibility of collaborative demos…

TuesdayDemoTuesday 16th – the demo room full of colourful twisted paper shavings from the previous evenings demo and ready for the lunchtime demo.

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The work looked great in the strong light enterring the gallery space today.

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Mesmerising paper turning on the lathe by Pia Wüstenberg.  The paper is glued and compressed around a walnut dowel before being turned.  The turned paper is incoorporated in the furniture design pieces on show as both structural and aesthetic pt.3 pt.4 pt.5 pt.6 visitors paper




























Weds 17th Sept.                                               Craft Central is showing a selection of products at 100% Design (S24/Emerging Brands – near International Pavillion) from 6 exhibitors in ‘Total Fabrication’.  Thanks to great curating by Charlene Lam of Creative Clerkenwell the stand looked terrific when it opened this morning, here’s a snapshot…


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Ted Jefferis of TedWood displayed his woodworking tools on the stand in a gorgeous English saddle leather pouch that he made alongside other tools bags in a rich chocolate brown and tan coloured leather.  At Crafts Central he is showing leather lamps.Tedgeoffries.leather.1

Ted’s Hexhead stools on the stand.TedWood.1First concrete demo today, mixing red concrete and casting in a rubber mould. Step 1 – to avoid flooding the gallery with concrete, before mixing anything, ensure the mould is securely fastened, prepared and positioned upright on an even surface.

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After preparing the mould, select and and calculate the amounts of ingredients required.  Next weight out the dry ingredients and mix them, then measure out the water and mix it all together well.  The concrete is then ready to go in the mould and is left for at least 24 hours to cure.  I’ll unmould it during my demo at 1:30 tomorrow.  The holey green concrete below is a test block that I prepared earlier, to demonstrate unmoulding a wooden mould.cdemo.6 holy green concrete cdemo.12












For the evening demo I had no mould so with a visitor to the show, we took clay imprints of the street outside the gallery on slabs of clay.  We then attached letters to one of the imprints and made secure low walls to contain concrete to make relief tiles. I later cast yellow concrete into the moulds.  Clay is not the ideal mould for concrete but for small scale tests its fine..

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One great thing about the ‘Total Fabrication’ exhibition is that everytime I walk through the gallery space, I see different details within the work on show that I did not notice before.  Here are some of my favourite close up details of textures and designs in the furniture Vanja Bazdulj. textures.1






2     I like this deep grey green drippy effect because it reminds me of the deep green Japanese oribe glazes dripped and trailed across oribeware ceramics.  I can see this furniture as huge ceramic sculptural forms. The designer is also showing small pieces of ceramic tableware in the glass showcases in the central gallery space.

A few more surfaces that compliment each other..

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Phil Davison of Urbanite home cuts, welds and rivets oil barrels by hand to make contemporary bespoke furniture.  He gave a demo putting one of his chairs and tables together on Tuesday afternoon and during the private view in the evening.  Since I saw the two barrel lids in the demo room on Monday (see picture below) I had my eye on their concrete friendly surfaces.. and already began to talk with Phil about the possiblitiy of pouring concrete into them.  The surfaces retain the number prints, knocks and markings recording their previous life on the road and I thought this could be interesting to cast into pr.2Here are a few images of the chair being put together.

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Visitors to the exhibition got the opportunity to test out the chair and relax after a long day of visiting design festival events in Clerkenwell.prv.1 prv.2 prv











Thursday 18th September: Having cast into metal many times getting beautiful surfaces I thought the surface of one of the oil drum lids imprinted into concrete would be interesting so  I took apart one of Phil’s chairs to cast into.

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Unmoulded casts from the previous day:

origamisignThursday evening origami session with Angela Fung, who makes stunning jewellery and incredible folded paper installations.  The installation in the show is suspended from the ceiling covering the whole of the ceiling surface area in the central exhibition room.  Angela demonstrated how she works with the strong type of paper called Tyvek and has to score each fold individually before folding.

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All of Angela’s installations are scored and folded by hand.  There is an option to get the paper scored by lazer but this gives a completely different feel and the installations loose a certain kind of warmth and softness when not made completely by hand.    Some parts of the paper installations have areas of gold sometimes hidden between the folds, revealing only parts at a time and the more open areas of gold reflect light wonderfully.  This reminds me of the way the Japanese use gold or silver on their paper screen to reflect light.  The artist mentioned how sometimes her folded paper is placed outside especially when any lacquer on the surface is drying.  Sometimes a breeze may blow it slightly and the paper gets a few crinkles but she is not too precious about avoiding that, as it adds to the nature of working by hand with such a material. origami1











Here are some of my porcelain folded paper clay wall pieces that are in the show.  It was nice to show these alongside Angela’s work as they complimented each other.  The porcelain folded tiles in the cabinet look like a broken down process in simple folding captured within the clay.

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Friday 19th September –        jesmonite demo                           I was sorry to miss Troels Flensted’s jesmonite demo’s today.  Troel’s is from Denmark and his studio is based in Berling.  He is showing lights and candle holders cast in jesmonite.

Monday 22nd September – Unfortunately the concrete I cast on Thursday got completely stuck in the oil drum lid.


About Jo Woffinden

Designer-maker based in London
This entry was posted in Art, Artists, Design, Exhibitions, Festival, Materials, Process. Bookmark the permalink.

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