Wednesday, 8 January 2014

One morning at MoDiP

I began working at MoDiP in early September and since then I have been on a fascinating journey into the world of plastics – who’d have thought? I, probably like the vast majority of people not employed in the plastics industry, have previously paid little attention to this ubiquitous and seemingly inert material that pervades our lives, but now I have a whole new perspective on it! 

I have come to appreciate plastic as something that has historical significance and has literally helped to mould and shape (pardon the pun) the world that we currently inhabit. What particularly tickled me today was when the MoDiP team gathered together to examine a bunch of goodies that had been kindly donated to us by a member of the Plastics Historical Society. It was like Christmas morning as we carefully removed each item from its protective bubble wrap cloak and examined it, touched it, exclaimed and discussed the pros and cons of injection moulding – the words geek central spring to mind! 

There was a whole range of items including speckled egg cups, fancy pomanders and combs made of Xylonite. There were salt and pepper pots in red and green, shaped like tulips and miniature boxes containing needles and matches – we spent ages commenting on which type of plastic each item was made from and looking for the tell-tale signs that it had been injection moulded. 

Some of the items dated back to the 1940s and it was interesting to note what was considered aesthetically pleasing then as opposed to now. Ultimately after an hour or so of examination and discussion we decided to keep everything that we had seen for our Collection. This is not always the case, as we have to be quite discerning. For example, if we already have a similar item in the Collection or the new object does not teach us anything new then sadly we have to return it to its original home. 

Acquiring items is not something we take lightly, as there is already more than 12,500 items in the MoDiP Collection and each item has to be given an accession number and then catalogued and photographed. It also has to be carefully and lovingly packaged away – so space is a consideration too! However, we always try to keep in mind the historical significance of objects and the purpose that they may have served at some point in time. There really is some leverage in the saying Plastic Fantastic! 

Julie Connery (MoDiP Administrator)

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