Monday, 11 June 2018

Washday blues

Where do you store your laundry basket?

For years I have dreamt of having a utility room so that I would have one dedicated space to put all of my clothes washing ‘stuff’. For example, the airer lives in the spare room. It used to live in the garage but has been used so frequently of late that it now resides permanently inside the house. The laundry basket, when full, sits at the end of my bed, a constant reminder to put all of the clean clothes away. When I have actually achieved this chore, the basket has no fixed abode. Sometimes it stays at the end of my bed looking lost. Sometimes it lives in the spare room. Sometimes it finds its way into my daughter’s bedroom being used as part of a game. Recently, as I have been redecorating, it has started to get in the way.

I started to give some serious thought to the issue of where to put this thing when I came up with the brilliant idea of acquiring a collapsible version that could be stored more easily. After doing loads of research I decided to buy this:

The body is made from silicone, a soft and flexible plastic which allows the layers to concertina in on themselves in order for the basket to fold up and down. When flat it is only 7.5cm tall but it extends an extra 20cm to hold a whole wash load (as can be seen by the mountain of school uniform waiting to be hung on the line).

It made me think about how amazing silicone is as a material. For example, it is lightweight but strong, non-reactive, non-porous (so it does not harbour bacteria), moisture resistant, it can withstand extreme temperatures, has excellent weatherability and is a good insulator. As a result it is used in lots of different industries such as:

  • aerospace eg. silicone gaskets provide an airtight seal around windows and doors
  • healthcare eg. respiratory tubing - silicone is hypoallergenic and easy to sterilise
  • alternative energy eg. silicone adhesives are used in the manufacture of solar cells and wind turbines
  • transport eg. silicone coatings ensure airbags remain gas tight and heat resistant
  • construction eg. silicone sealants (I use these all the time in my house)
  • food and drink eg. insulating silicone oven gloves and non-stick cake moulds.

Some people argue that silicone should not be classified as a plastic but here at MoDiP we do include it within our collections. We have 66 objects that contain this remarkable material: my favourite is the squeezy marmite bottle which has a silicone valve. Does marmite taste the same out of a squeezy bottle? Sounds like another blog…

Katherine Pell (Collections Assistant)

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