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Summary

From atomic structures to theories about magnetic forces, scientific progress has given us a good grasp on the properties of many different materials. However, science cannot tell us how to measure the temperature of steel just by looking at it, or how to sculpt stone into all kinds of shapes, or what it feels like to blow up a balloon of glass. Handmade is the story of materials through making and doing. Author and material scientist Anna Ploszajski journeys into the domain of makers and craftspeople to comprehend how the most popular materials really work. Their accumulated knowledge through hands-on trial and error has been gathered by generation after generation of experimenters and tinkerers and they understand the materiality of objects far better than any scientist with a textbook.

Anna’s is the fresh and entertaining perspective of someone at the forefront of the field. Each chapter centres around an everyday material and features Anna’s accounts of learning from masters of their respective crafts. Along the way, she builds a fuller picture of materials and their place in society. She visits a female blacksmith artist to see, hear, smell and strike steel herself, explores how working with one of the most primal of materials, clay, has brought about some of the most advanced technologies and delves down to the atomic scale of glass to find out what makes it ‘glassy’. Handmade affords us a new understanding of the materials we encounter every day and an appreciation for the skills needed to fashion them into objects that are perfectly formed for the jobs they do.

©2021 Anna Ploszajski (P)2021 W F Howes

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