We have a tendency to take everyday objects for granted–objects that have often traveled thousands of miles and through dozens of hands just to get to us. But just how difficult is it to make something as common as a toaster from scratch? Pretty difficult, as evidenced by Thomas Thwaites’ Toaster Project. We first covered Thwaites’ attempt to build a toaster last year, but now the art student’s project is finally complete.
According to Thwaites, the elements of the toaster come from a myriad of places: Copper, to make the pins of the electric plug, the cord, and internal wires. Iron to make the steel grilling apparatus, and the spring to pop up the toast. Nickel to make the heating element. Mica (a mineral a bit like slate) around which the heating element is wound, and of course plastic for the plug and cord insulation, and for the all important sleek looking casing. It took quite a bit of time and effort (as you can imagine), but Thwaites actually mined and processed all of the raw materials himself to make the ugly but functional toaster pictured.
So is this a useful practice for most of us? No. But the Toaster Project serves to remind us that the things which make our lives easy (i.e. toasters) aren’t so easy to manufacture.