Made by Insects
An on-going research into the natural polymer, lac
Lac is mainly used in the industry as a coating material, known as ‘shellac’. With the rise of chemical coatings, the demand for the natural version is decreasing. However, this research suggests innovative ways to look at the material, aiming to give it a new life and revive this dying craft.
The research began in a field trip to Thailand, to study the crafty producers: the ‘Kerria Lacca’ insects. The way the insects use the material to build their shelters on tree branches seemed quiet architectural to me, which gave me the inspiration to explore the possibility to form other structures with it.
Setting up the ‘Lac-Lab’ in Eindhoven, Ori Orisun Merhav started to experiment with the material. Through a collaborative process with different craftsmen and people from the industry, she grew a library of newfound techniques to work with it. Those are all gathered into an open source, a platform to invite other explorers to join in, and together expand the knowledge around this natural polymer.
One of the most exciting findings of the research so far is that lac can be blown. This has opened up a lot of possibilities in the material, the coating material has grown into three dimensional shapes, creating a language of its own. To farther research blowing techniques, she invited glass blowers to join the experimentations, and together explore the borders between glass and lac blowing. A lot of methods and tools from glass can be borrowed to lac and the collaboration was very enriching.
The ‘Lac-Lab’ will be on show during Object Rotterdam
10 – 12 February, 2023