Variations for Butternut-squash bioplastic


Butternut-squash bioplastic

Created By: Sophia Hatzikos  
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Step one

Scoop out the inside of a squash which is the part called the 'pulp' or the 'seed pulp'; the squash flesh can be cooked and consumed, so we'll use the part which you wouldn't normally eat! Any species of squash will do, I used butternut squash (Cucurbita L.) and it weighed 250 grams. (You could also explore making a material with the squash skin!)

Step two

Take the hard seeds out of the 'seed pulp' as they don't blend well. Some seeds may be underdeveloped and those can be taken out or left in. It's worth noting that any variation in the contents of the squash ingredient is likely to vary the final properties of the material. The final amount I used was approximately 250 grams. The amount you use depends on how large your material will be.

Step three

Put squash in a blender and add 30 ml of glycerin and 15 ml of water (however I would also say add water as appropriate becasue it depends on how long you leave the squash insides out in the air prior to mixing. If they are very dry you may need a pinch more water!)


Step four

Pulse the mixture 3-5 times. Do not blend it into an overly smooth mixture as we still want some of the strands to be intact. This fibrous characteristic of the squash ingredient helps to keep the material together.

Step five

Take your thick plastic sheeting and pour your mixture on to it. Put another plastic sheet on top and use a rolling pin or your palms to flatten it out to about 1 cm in thickness. I used a 6mm thickness of plastic.

Step six

If there is excess moisture you can use a towel I like to use cheese cloth to eliminate this. Carefully, pat it dry.

Step seven

Let the material sheet air dry and place it outside if it is sunny. Use some props to keep the plastic down so it does not blow away. At the time of year I was creating the material, the temperature was 65-70 Fahrenheit (20-21 Celcius). Most of the time I dried the material in direct sunlight (25 C). Note: If you are trying to use an oven to dry the material, including a fan/convection oven, the sample can puff up as it is heated. It might be worth trying a dehydrator, but it is not a method I have tested yet.


Step eight

Once it is dry carefully peel it off. A small knife might help with this process.

The final material characteristics are smooth, very bendable and foldable. It is light in weight and it can be sewn.