Session 3: Sustainability, material and design

It was great to have Victoria back with us for yesterdays re_fabricate session, and even better that we could welcome Ferel, Nick, Ruth & L5 Graphics students to deliver a range of passionate and practical perspectives around the theme of sustainability.

Here is Ruth setting up her table of wonders before the session:

and (although breaking the narrative) I can’t also resist sharing her extraordinary foraged objects just before the workshop (above) and our ‘miscellaneous curations of made’ post-workshop (below).

All of these made from found things. We are super-lucky to have graduates like Ruth around who keep their involvement with college life, and also lucky to have a community with a commitment to doing something tangible about real-life problems. For those who question the value of an arts education, I’d say please read on and reflect…

Ferel Smith, L4 Contemporary Design Crafts student, showed us ‘precious plastics’, an open source plastic recycling project that has an international profile and community of practice. Ferel intends to build  a machine that recycles plastics using their blueprints so that we might be able to recycle our own plastic bottles on site. The re-fabricate@HCA community is very proud to have supported him by facilitating a space where he can share ideas. I hope that we can do more in the coming months (anyone up for designing a poster?)

IMG_3044More about the wider project here:

Likewise, B.A. (Hons) Textile Design lecturer Nick Thomas shared not just valuable information that showed us just how crazy some of the textile decisions the world makes are, but also how we can become voices to support change.


Fashion Revolution is an excellent organisation which aims:

“to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean and fair way” (Fashion, 2018)

The movement puts names and faces to workers in the international clothes industry. It enables us to consider and reflect on our buying choices. For instance, did you know that cotton-mix fabrics can’t be recycled? I didn’t, before Nick’s session. And I will look at my labels more carefully in future.

I hope we can carry on this conversation with both Nick, Ferel and others in future at HCA.


And we built some sustainability machines — identifying and suggesting solutions to a range of problems from methane gas through to deforestation. The pic above shows Victoria leading a seminar session and critically questioning some of our ideas.

It was also great to welcome our first student ‘group presentation’, with L5 graphics students sharing their collective work around the ‘one bottle’ project. I’ll be excited to see where this goes – it presents an innovative and exciting solution that kicks back against wasted plastics in a way that just might work (and is going further out of college so I won’t share it entirely here).

And back to the amazing Ruth, who uses foraged materials to make new creations, and who shared with us her MA thesis and demonstrated it by creating a creature ‘live’, then inviting us to create our own. This was a different sort of personal sustainability and one where we could share our own uniqueness without buying a thing.


I can’t think our participants and presenters enough for this session. HCA is an incredibly unique place to work and collaborate. And yesterday showed me that if we work together, we really can make a difference to society by thinking, theorising, collaborating, problem-solving, making and doing.

best wishes,


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