Climate Walk 15/03 – Debrief

We joined the climate strike ‘Youth Strike 4 Climate’ on Friday 15th March and we thought a debrief would be appropriate. At 10am on Friday, we joined the London university bloc alongside Imperial, King’s College, LSE, UAL, and others. Starting from South Kensington, we first joined up with students from Imperial and then we met up with other universities and marched from The Strand and finished at at Parliament square. The majority of walkers were high school, middle school and primary school students. It was a pleasure to add our support.

     One name echoed strongly throughout the walk: it was the name of Greta Thunberg. Greta is the 16 years old activist who started the strike movement, recently announced as a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Greta is known for her convincing skills and hard-to-avoid call for actions. She is the hero often quoted as inspiration to so many we met on Friday.

As we were walking around London landmarks, the slogans we heard based on iconic melodies were such as:

‘Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Fossil Fuels have got to go!

‘What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!’

‘I don’t know what I’ve been told, but climate change is getting old. I don’t know but it’s been said, we have to act or we’ll be dead’

‘Climate change is real! We’re telling you how we feel!’

‘Don’t want to die, don’t want to die’

     From tambourines to remixes of R’n’B’ finest ‘Hot in Here’, passing with grimes remix sang by the old to the voices of four years old, the walk was letting the youth shine. What we saw were people re-appropriating climate change culture, and it came as a relief.

The banners of the walk carried a DIY art class vibe to them, of which we selected a few to put in this blog post. It was a special feeling to walk alongside so many unpoliticised young people, with a clear majority around 14 to 19 years old. Families with young children, middle school and high school students were the uncontested star of Friday. Arriving in front of Parliament Square, we even ran into George Monbiot

   If there is a thank you which we could promote, it would be to the people making sure everyone was fed and healthy by giving out clementines. The bright orange peels were a striking contrast to the grey cement of the city roads. The juice of the clementines themselves spreading on our smiles. The overwhelming feeling of care and kindness found at the walk has still not left us.

We hope our voices are heard.

Shape and Form – Paper Making Workshop

For our second workshop of the year, we looked at recycling used paper into new paper and creating forms using wire meshes. The approach of the evening was divided between shredding paper, blending it and creating a watery mixture of paper fibers that could be reassembled into sheets as well as forms.

Tools and Ingredients:

  • Old newspaper and posters
  • Blender
  • Large tub of water
  • Screen printing screens
  • Washcloths / towels
  • Large flat tray / plastic sheet

Preparing the Recycled Paper

For this workshop, we began by shredding old newspapers and papers. We used scissors, hands, and an electronic shredder. Regardless of the method, the key thing about preparing the paper is to make the pieces finer so that more cellulose can be released when the paper blends with the water.

Blending the Paper

Once we created the desired amount of shredded paper, the next step was to blend it with water. The proportions are quite flexible at this stage because the goal is to create a watery mix of paper pulp that can be strained and dried via evaporation.

The Mixing Process

  • Place the shredded paper loosely into the blender. Don’t compact it!
  • Pour water into the blender up to the line.
  • Blend carefully and pour the contents into the tub of water.
  • Repeat the process using a mixture of watery paper pulp and shredded paper.

Creating Sheets and Forms

Once the paper and water have been mixed thoroughly, we begin the paper making process by dipping the screens or wire meshes into the tub of water.

  • Mix the water rapidly then submerge the mesh into the water. Play with the speed and duration to explore different paper thickness
  • Alternatively pour the mixture directly onto the screens and wire meshes.
  • Have fun and test the boundaries of what is possible!

Making and Drying Process

  • Place  the towels on the flat sheet
  • Place the meshes on the towel to absorb the water
  • Begin drying the other side with another towel (optional)
  • Let the paper dry completely

When it comes to drying, the key thing is that the thickness of the paper directly determines how long it takes to dry. Depending how thick the paper is, it could take a day or more.

Separating the Paper from Mesh

Paper making relies on evaporation, so in general, there is a high risk of tearing your paper if it’s completely wet.

When screens are used to make paper it is possible to let the paper completely dry before removing it from the screen. However, the wood frame can make it slightly challenging to remove the paper. To aid the process, the paper can be removed after it has partially dried but still damp.

Removing from screens (damp):

  • Turn the screen upside down so that the paper is facing the tray
  • Tap the screen with your fingers, a small piece of wood, or scrap material
  • Be careful not to rip the screen by tapping on it to separate the paper gradually.

For separating the paper from the mesh, it is best to wait for it to completely dry. This allows the paper to take the form the mesh completely and to be more easily separated.

Removing from meshes (dry):

  • Carefully pry the mesh away from the paper along the edges
  • As you progress along the edges, flatten out the wire mesh

Final Results

The grey paper was the newspaper of the day, the white was the offcuts of the printing lab, and the orange was our own poster! Stay tuned for the next for the next Open-Crit and be sure to bring a project to share!

Natural Dye Workshop

Thank you to everyone who came out last Thursday to our first workshop! There was a great turnout with students from across the entire RCA community. The approach of the evening was on creating natural dyes from edible ingredients and we used spinach and beets, as our colorants.

For each dye we used:

  • 1800ml of Water
  • 150ml of Salt (mordant)

The colorants were:

  • 200g of Spinach
  • 500g of Beets

The more each ingredient is broken down by chopping or grinding the more colorant is released into the water.

In order to set the color in the fabric, dyes need the help of mordants or fixatives which are either metals (iron, copper, aluminum, etc) or minerals (salt, vinegar, baking soda, etc).

Depending on the material being dyed a variety of ingredients can be used as mordants. We experimented with salt for our workshop. Once everything is mixed into the water, it takes about an hour of boiling.

Link to the dye making guide

We saw first hand how different fabrics absorbed or resisted the dye depending on whether the fibers were natural, synthetic, or a blend. Natural fibers and dyes are great to work with – but they won’t mix with anything synthetic.

During the workshop recipes and best practices were exchanged. One student shared this ingredient guide from France, and another offered advice about grinding up ingredients passed down from her grandmother from India.  It was exciting to hear from students what expertise they have and collectively a fun learning environment was created that enabled students from different courses to meet and chat.

Stay tuned for the next workshop and our inaugural open-crit!

Welcoming Drinks: highlighting the subjects of interests for this year

Thank you to everyone who came on Wednesday to say hi! It was a pleasure to meet everyone and to hear everyone’s ideas and views on climate change.

The goal of this event was to grasp the topics of interest related to climate change and to plan the year accordingly to the students’ interests.

We were able to highlight five key themes:

Climate and Action:
To communicate about climate in a positive way; to take action rather than spreading awareness; to encourage individual actions; to fight apathy;

Climate and Cities:
To investigate the role of cities within climate change; to use cities as an experimentation ground for innovation; to find fresh air in cities;

Climate and Health:
To push the boundaries of the definition of health for sustainability; to correlate mental and environ-mental health; to investigate sustainable aspects of sound; to think of the Planet’s health; to understand the land use and deforestation; to investigate the impact of human activity on wildlife and environment;

Climate and Materials:
To understand the degradable aspects of materials; to tackle the plastic problem; to investigate the consequences of textiles production; to question and experiment with new materials

Climate and Migration:
To apprehend the movement of human and non-human population; to find ways to incorporate cultures and preserving heritages;

Climate and Responsibility:
To ask about responsibilities and ethics when it comes to climate action; to explore the role of responsibilities in societies; to encourage positive responsibilities; to question what humans need;

We are looking forward to building on these themes with you during the year and stay tuned for our upcoming event on the 18th of October! It will be a natural dye workshop being held at the making space at White City from 5pm.