The Toaster Project: Or A Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch

Chronicle Books
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"Hello, my name is Thomas Thwaites, and I have made a toaster." So begins The Toaster Project, the author's nine-month-long journey from his local appliance store to remote mines in the UK to his mother's backyard, where he creates a crude foundry. Along the way, he learns that an ordinary toaster is made up of 404 separate parts, that the best way to smelt metal at home is by using a method found in a fifteenth-century treatise, and that plastic is almost impossible to make from scratch. In the end, Thwaites's homemade toaster—a haunting and strangely beautiful object—cost 250 times more than the toaster he bought at the store and involved close to two thousand miles of travel to some of Britain's remotest locations. The Toaster Project may seem foolish, even insane. Yet, Thwaites's quixotic tale, told with self-deprecating wit, helps us reflect on the costs and perils of our cheap consumer culture, and in so doing reveals much about the organization of the modern world.
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Chronicle Books
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Published on
Mar 20, 2012
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Art / Sculpture & Installation
Design / General
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Eligible for Family Library

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Is there art after modernism? Many of today's art students and professionals are finding the answer — "yes" — lies in the long-neglected field of figurative sculpture, a demanding form of expression that requires extremely rigorous technical training. Most modern schools, however, are simply not equipped to provide the necessary technical background. The republication of this highly valuable text by Edouard Lanteri, renowned teacher, sculptor, and intimate friend of Rodin (Rodin called him "my dear master, my dear friend"), makes it possible for serious students to gain the requisite skills and bridge the gap between artistic concept and figurative realization. Representing at least three thousand years of studio lore, this readily understandable, authoritative guide is a goldmine of technical information, easily comprising a four-year sculpture curriculum unavailable elsewhere.
Beginning with a detailed study of modelling a head from a cast model, Lanteri gives meticulous descriptions of the anatomical features that comprise the head. Next, there are instructions for sculpting a bust from a live model: how to place the model, use the clay, take measurements, set up the all-important framework, put on hair, etc. The author also covers modelling the figure from nature, including such factors as the scale of proportions, posing the model, the chief line, contrasts of line, building up the figure, and more.
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Throughout the twentieth century, Isamu Noguchi was a vital figure in modern art. From interlocking wooden sculptures to massive steel monuments to the elegant Akari lamps, Noguchi became a master of what he called the "sculpturing of space." But his constant struggle—as both an artist and a man—was to embrace his conflicted identity as the son of a single American woman and a famous yet reclusive Japanese father. "It's only in art," he insisted, "that it was ever possible for me to find any identity at all."
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