Craft & Design
A homemade toaster … built from scratch!


Amazing! Thomas Thwaites created this handmade toaster from 100% raw materials, most of which he mined from the earth himself – even smelting the iron ore via microwave. The project’s description from the Royal College of Art’s Design Interactions Show

For nine months I’ve been trying to make an electric toaster, myself, starting from scratch. Travelling to disused mines around Britain, digging up raw materials, processing and forming them into a hand crafted pastiche of a product sold in Argos for the throwaway price of £3.94.

My quest is perhaps absurd, but the contrast in scale between the products we use and the industry that produces them also seems absurd. Massive industrial activity in the pursuit of additional modicums of comfort at lower prices – small trifles, like an evenly crispy piece of toast, that we quickly become accustomed too. However, I like toast, as well as many of the other trappings of 21st Century life. The laboriousness of producing even the most basic material from the ground up exposes the fallacy in a return to some romantic ideal of a pre-industrialised time. But at a moment in time when the effects of industry are no longer trivial in relation to the wider environment, the throwaway toasters of today seem unreasonable. The provenance and the fate of the things we buy is too important to ignore.

Wow – left to my own devices, I’m guessing I’d take my chances with a campfire and a couple of sticks. More pics of the manufacturing process and the common appliances used therein can be seen on the project’s page. Thanks to commenter tiedyedpie for pointing out the finished piece!


Smelting iron ore in a microwave

9 thoughts on “A homemade toaster … built from scratch!

  1. I know I’m being overly nitpicking, but “100% natural” probably isn’t the best description since Thwaites’s toaster includes plastic… Perhaps 100% homemade? 100% built from raw materials?

    That aside, I absolutely love his project… Brilliant!

    1. Thanks, I do see your point.

      Thomas mentions on his site –
      “The first four of these materials are dug out of the ground, and plastic is derived from oil, which is generally sucked up through a hole.”

      Pretty sure he didn’t go digging for oil … but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility either!

      1. I know Thwaites was hoping to get permission to visit an off-shore oil rig for the oil. Maybe that ended up coming together for him.

  2. Open fire, a metal rod (fashioned from ore smelted in your microwave) with a wooden grip will get you toast too…

  3. Quote:
    “Open fire, a metal rod (fashioned from ore smelted in your microwave) with a wooden grip will get you toast too…”

    So will burning your house down with a loaf of bread in it…

    Seriously though, it’s a cool art piece. I just don’t think it would be a smart thing to use on a daily basis in an average home.

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