Life is made up of essential elements, like carbon and nitrogen. In nature when things die, these compounds return to earth and are broken down into their simplest, most elemental form ready to be used again. This cycle creates no waste and self sustains.
When organic matter decomposes, a complex ecosystem of living organisms becomes part of this cycle. Primary decomposers like bacteria eat this organic matter. Next micro-organisms like mites eat the primary decomposers, then insects like worms, beetles and centipedes eat those.
What if we could accelerate this process and play with it?
One football pitch of healthy top soil can contain upwards of 15 tons of organisms. Compost is like black gold- helping restore the health of soil, increasing water retention, improving soil structure, reducing the need for chemical fertilisers and helping life flourish.
If we can cultivate the optimum conditions for the compost heap's ecosystem to flourish, we can use each micro-organism or organic decay as a new tool to collaboratively craft with.
There is billions of bacteria in every gram of soil, hundreds of different species.
Some bacterium found in compost heaps produce enzymes that are able to digest cellulose and lignin found in wood. Some produce pigments: Janthinobacterium Lividum produces a deep purple pigment during its metabolism of glucose called Violacein. These bacteria can be cultivated and then used as biological engravers and dye-masters. Eating away at the surface of organic materials to create soft, subtle, undulating pattern and staining wooden surfaces deep, rich purple.
Larger organisms act as vermi-etchers, helping sculpt and pattern the wood with their distinctive handwriting.
This is a slow process, taking many months or years to mature. This slowness allows nutrients to be put back into the ground improving soil health: nutrient rich black gold is the byproduct.
These samples are proof of concept and have all been crafted using FSC assured sustainable Scots Pine, Tulip Poplar and Mahogany.
This is a new collaborative, slow may to craft. Removing the need for caustic, harmful of energy intensive traditional craft techniques and replacing them with biological alternatives. These processes help contribute to the natural lifecycle and ecosystem to create striking visual samples that are fully biodegradable and can be returned to earth.