Precious mineral and metal resources have hit all time highs in terms of raw material prices. We may be in a banking crisis but the need for raw material isn’t showing any signs of a slow down. Big investors see safety in moving money into precious metals. The price and demand for copper in the UK has seen the organised theft of millions of pounds of cabling and even the Tube has been stopped by audacious thefts. It doesn’t end with copper; oil and coal have huge values. They also have unlikely aesthetic appeal too.Numerous designers have used copper of the past couple of years and it will continue to be a  popular material if only for is beautiful unique colour and shiney properties. But there is also a beauty in raw natural states.Faye_TooGood_Trapped_Sphere_Oil

At the London Design Festival Faye Toogoode showed a range of pieces  at Phillips de Pury that examine iridescence using oil as a medium.

Trapped Sphere is a piece that suspends oil in a solid resin block allowing the viewer to examine its beautiful iridescence. Its a work that objectifies this precious material and imprisons it. Its a dangerous material in so many ways; a pollutant and the cause of so many wars. We all know it as a valuable commodity but we rarely see it in its natural state. Captured in the sphere its a reminder of how the world is still so reliant on it.

Faye_Toogood_Element Table SteelElement Table made of sheets of  steel with the iridescent patina of oil metal

Lex-Pott_True_Colours_allLex Pott allows the metal to take on its natural colours. His experiments are shown in the first image on this post “When an element like copper is found in nature it has
a green colour. Iron has an orange / brown  colour when being found inside the earth. Oxidized metal surfaces create colours that provide information about a material. The pallete is a reaction with the base material.
Therefore the coloured surfaces have an organic growth
of colour and not every colour is possible on every surface. Colouring metals requires accurate recipes. This project shows the results of a research on metals and their true colours; a direct relationship between colour, material and information.”

Lex created a series of panels showing this organic growth across different metals in his work True Colours

Lex has gone on to apply the same process in True Colours ShelfLex_Pott_True_Colours_Shelf2Lex_Pot_True_Colours-Shelf_Detail

ballpoint_pen_minimalux_ Minimalux Ballpoint  is made of an almost indestructible solid brass. the unplated shell allows the metal to develop its own patina. “The basic ballpoint pen, or ‘Biro’ as it has become known, has been a useful accessory to our daily lives for many years. Its familiar, cheap plastic casing is synonymous with the product but also its disposability”.

SortofCoal_kuro_cube_largeSort of Coal is  a product that acts as a water and air purifyer  but is actually White Charcoal so not coal! White Charcoal has a higher carbon content than Black Charcoal and has no dust or residue.  Made using the same techniques and processes that have been used for centuries. In this ancient Japanese method pieces of wood are baked in hand-built clay kilns, slowly at first and then at extremely high temperatures with restricted oxygen. This allows carbon to be captured in the wood, a process called pyrolysis.Sort-of-Coal-kishu_binchotan_

Oddly enough for years I’ve had a large lump of Lancashire coal sitting on a shelf near to me. I found it in the cellar at home; we never had a coal fire so it must have been there for decades. It moved around with me as a reminder of home and because its surprisingly beautiful, with iridescent seams. I just thought it was pretty, now I’d like to think its been purifying the air around me too! (probably not)

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