Natural Stone industry
Mining / Manufacturer
Duration: 28.10.19 – 31.10.19
Product: The product range of this company reaches from paving stones over products for public and private landscape architecture to gravestones. Several surface treatments can be performed. Due to the geological situation, the Lindlar greywacke is marbled with oxide layers and marine fossils.
By-product: Since the company is directly operating at the origin of the material, the location offers all possible offcuts from greywacke. To produce rectangular stone products like paving stones or slabs for instance, the boulders need to be tamed and normed by huge circular saws. By cutting the material, right- angled and levelled edge pieces are generated. Over the last years of production, Schiffarth gathered a big pile of offcuts in the back of their yard. In around 15 years, when Schiffarth quarried all the usable greywacke from their quarry hole, they are going to fill it up with this pile of offcuts.
Inspiration: The Kurt-Hackenberg square in Cologne was the reason for this choice of material. The public seating objects located there are made out of simple rectangular forms from greywacke. The visible fossils of the material stand in contrast to the modern design. There must be a lot of offcut material to end up with such a geometry. When I visited Schiffarth for the first time, my assumptions were confirmed.
Organisation: I had to find a natural stone company that is not working with a stone crusher to produce gravel from offcuts. After several refusals of local stone quarries, I found the welcoming and supportive company Otto Schiffarth in Lindlar in the Bergische Land.
Potentials: Over the last decades, several forms of offcut pieces piled up to a huge heap on the site. They vary in size, weight, grain and surface structure. One thing they all have in common is at least one levelled surface. Most of the time, one can also find rectangular surfaces.
Challenges: The heap of potential material is overwhelming. Searching for the right piece can take up some time and could require climbing on loose terrain. Since the by-products are shoved outside, the pieces can be dirty and wet. Due to the production process, the edges of the stone offcuts can be sharp.
Goals: Working plastically in an environment where people are mainly working sculpturally is the aim. Instead of sculpting, I wanted to compose. With the right glue, the rectangular and levelled by- products can be connected to useful objects for the home.
Production: The first whole day of production I spent gathering offcut materials from the pile and figuring out how to combine them. Since all the resulting designs are depending on the given parameters of the found materials, the process is constantly improvisational and unpredictable. The only reliable fact about the offcut is at least one even surface created by some circular saw.
Reflexion: The fact that I could see and touch the material source of the greywacke, not just reinforced my relation to the objects, but to natural resources in general. Some constructions broke due to their complexity. Strategic wise, following the material in an unplannable way wins over trying to realise a specific idea one had in advance. During the process, it becomes clear that less gluing with bigger gluing surfaces is more stable and logic for the production. It was important to perform the design process on site because I needed to have the option of going back to the pile to find alternative offcut pieces.
Prospect: Reflecting on the fact that I spent the first whole day searching for more or less equal parts from the dirty pile to compose a stool, seemed ridiculous. During the last days, I realised that I could have just stood next to a worker and collect offcuts right from the saw before it was thrown on the messy pile. When they produce paving slabs, they cut a big slab in a grid- like manner. Like this, all the edge pieces are cut in the same length. I could have saved a lot of time searching and cleaning. The company also recommended using another glue. Next time I would follow this advice too.
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