“Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply make their own plastic…”
New / Old Flames are our favorite books – the ones we really think you should read too.
The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites
Reviewed by Jennifer
Inspired in part by a Douglas Adam’s quotation, Thwaites decided he should build a toaster for his thesis project in design. From scratch.
Think about it—a toaster is a ubiquitous object that sits on most people’s countertops, and gets a fair bit of use, but could you build one? Now you can go down to the electronics store and buy all parts, assemble it, and voila, toaster, but that’s not what Thwaites wanted. He wanted to be from “as scratch” as possible. He would mine his own iron and smelt his own steel. He would make his own plastic. His toaster would plug into a standard outlet and it had to have the lever to press down and the bits that make your toast spring up automatically when done.
Of course, just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply make their own plastic. (Although it turns out you can smelt steel in your microwave. There are pictures and instructions provided.) Thwaites makes a toaster (you can see his result on the cover)—it takes 9 months and over a thousand pounds (he is English) and a lot of travel.
Not only is it an interesting look at where are things really come from, Thwaites’s easy-breezy style and ingenious work-arounds make it a very fun read. Plus, he majored in design, so it’s a beautifully designed book with a lot of full-color photographs documenting the journey.
When Jennifer is not reading about toasters, she is the manager at Cherrydale Branch Library.