July 28: The "Earth Overshoot Day" 2022
Every year, this day determines the point in time when humanity has used up as many of the Earth's resources as nature can regenerate in one year. This means that we would currently need 1.6 worlds to meet our resource needs. We obviously have major problems with our resources, and we all know that humanity uses them with excessive waste.
The aim of my project "Pass the Bone" is therefore to use the waste produced by the meat industry to turn it into valuable, ecological materials. These can subsequently conserve other important resources, extremely minimise industrial waste and partially replace synthetic materials.
A particular focus here is on the animal by-products "bones", as only a small proportion of these would be edible. The bones used in my work come from different animal species from different husbandries in order to be able to compare quality, texture and appearance.
In the production of the project, four bone-based materials were created:
1. modern bone glass,
2. bone porcelain,
3. bone terrazzo
4. and the "entire bone".
Already during the production of the bone ash, differences in colour become visible in the bone ash and these have an even greater effect later when processing the glass.
Going back to the “14th and 15th century in Venice, a glass called milkglass was developed that looked like white porcelain or semi-opaque white glass. Nowadays, this effect is mainly created with toxic additives. Therefore, the question arises: Is it still possible to interpret a traditional, ecological bone glass into the modern one?
What difference would it make if one used ash from different kinds of animals brought up in different surroundings? Why not use the old recipes for the bone–glass-mixtures with local bone ash and develop not only a local but also an industrial production for modern products with it.
The bone ash only mixes with the other raw materials of the glass at 1,200 degrees Celsius to form the so called opaline glass. This might be a good reason to look at another waste stream of industrial production – the grinding sludge from the glass industry. This is produced almost every time, for example, when window glass or other objects are edged, ground or similar. What remains is a fine flour that is not further used.
Just like bone glass, bone china is not an modern innovation of our time. For classic Porcelain is Kaolin, Feldspar and Quartz needed. Bone china resembles mostly normal porcelain except for the addition of 30-60% bone ash.
Apparently, there are still enough of the three required minerals left, but in Germany it is only partly enough to cover the country's needs. This makes Germany dependent on others.
When talking about porcelain, most people probably first think of high-quality tableware that does not waste so many of the resources discussed.
In fact, the resources kaolin, feldspar and quartz are used in large quantities in the ceramics industry to make bathtubs, tiles and sinks, for example. In order to protect Germany's resource supply in the future, these everyday objects could be produced with an addition of 50% bone ash.
Bone ash, as often mentioned, is a recurring resource. It is therefore currently available in large quantities, is only marginally used and would not reduce the quality of the ceramic material.
Terrazzo is traditionally lime or cement mixed with left over aggregates that could be easily polished. Venetian terrazzo is nowadays the most famous terrazzo version. Typical Venetian terrazzo was first used in the mid-15th century. It "was created when resourceful Venetian mosaic workers discovered a way to reuse marble remnants.
But the much more common concrete used in the construction industry could also be understood as a form of terrazzo. It also consists of cement with an aggregate - sand.
However, this sand becomes a scarcer resource from day to day. Bone fragments or animal crematorium ash could be an alternative aggregate in both terrazzo and concrete.
The materials in this project represent different ways and shapes in which a bone can be used. However, the purest form of this processing in my eyes has so far been left out: bone as a material itself.
Since medieval times, there have been so-called bone carvers. In the past as much as today, bones were considered a cheaper substitute for ivory in carving. In the course of time, and even today, they are still responsible for various objects such as piano keyboards, bone folders and so on. Nowadays, there are only a handful of people who still carve bones.