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a collaboration project with recycled materials

RE FORM is a collaboration consisting of artist Mellissa Monsoon, engineer Matt Mapleston and artisan Frank White; together creating plastic repurposing machines to enable recycling in areas where little knowledge is known about the affects of plastic to our environment, as well as knowledge on where recycling ends up.


RE FORM work together to create machines made from scrap materials and unwanted machinery. So far, the project has been an exploration of the polymeric material, plastic, and extensive research on the different types of plastic, in relation to the melting temperatures and durability. .


RE FORM were commissioned by ArtWaves Festival to create two machines, the shredder and compression oven. These machines allow plastic to be shredded into flakes, which can be molten and compressed into different forms. They showcased their progress at Marine Studios in Margate, and since have gained support from the Isle of Thanet News and are currently seeking further funding to produce more machines.


Images: collecting and welding parts for the machines.


Reform have plans to bring the machines to local schools in Margate, and across Thanet to seaside towns with little recycling being accessible. With further funding they can produce more machines to allow the general public to learn and experience the possibilities of repurposing materials they already own. The workshops by collaborators are aiming to change the publics attitudes towards plastic waste, by creating different objects with the machines.


Once the machines were assembled and going through maintenance and PAT testing, Mellissa experimented with different methods of casting with low cost materials like clay and plaster. The process of this stage of the project was about exploring the possibilities of mixing these materials with flakes of plastic, to create a mould of an object. Mellissa experimented with food dye, printing patterns onto clay and sculpting shapes to test how much detail molten plastic would print from the mould. 

This is also the part of the project where the artwork outcome became realised as throughout Mellissa's work there is a theme of curiosity in natural forms and questions regarding our relationships with our surroundings. Now the questions are more towards, what we will become, and what traces are left behind.


The second machine made was the compression oven. We sourced a working electric oven from gumtree and Frank began to add a compressor (manually wound with an old car jack) and metal frame to support the oven. It was then rotated at 90 degrees to cut a hole in the side of the oven for the compressor. Both Matt and Frank began to rewire the oven, allowing us to accurately read the temperature from each heating element. The creative process of understanding cross discipline language and using the materials as research, drew us towards making the correct environment for the material rather than the machine aesthetic in the testing stages and is something we will be developing in the future for other machines.

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 Images showing our first test made from shredder Tupperware pots.

Reform were commissioned by Artwaves festival 2019 in Bridlington Spa, Yorkshire, through the environmental strand of the festival. Throughout the duration of the festival, the public were invited to participate in making fossils and shells out of plastic as part of a collection for artist Mellissa to create a public artwork. More info will be announced soon. The public were also open to work together with Reform to experiment with different types of plastic and learn about what is recyclable with plan to reuse single use plastic. The photographs above show the outcomes of the plastic fossils and shells and below are hte outcomes to experiments we ran with the public of Bridlington. 


Bridlington Spa