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)