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The Toaster Project, or, a Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch


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About the Author

Thomas Thwaites is a designer who operates in the border zones between the natural and social sciences and creative disciplines. His work examines how technology, science and economics interact with trends, fictions and beliefs in shaping our present, and possible futures. As an undergraduate he studied economics and biology at University College, London, with this training informing his design work. He completed his Masters in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art in 2009. His work has received several awards and is exhibited internationally, at galleries in London, Dublin, Rotterdam, and Tokyo. Based in London, he is currently working on a commission from the Wellcome Trust.


"Easily my favorite book this year, The Toaster Project should be required reading for artists, designers, consumers and anyone who has ever bought or thrown away a toaster. Thomas Thwaites, a graduate student at London's Royal College of Art, sets out to build a toaster from scratch -- not just an object that toasts bread, but one that aesthetically and mechanically replicates the ubiquitous $6 drugstore toaster.... Thwaites is a laugh-out-loud-funny but thoughtful guide through his own adventures, touching provocatively on ideas as far-ranging as medieval metallurgy, sustainability, mass production, and our 'throwaway' consumer culture. You'll buy it as a gift for the title and the concept, but you'll end up keeping it for yourself once you crack the cover -- so take my advice and buy two." --
"My new hero is Thomas Thwaites, who built a toaster from scratch in nine months, and wrote a delightful yet weighty little book called The Toaster Project about the process.... The completed toaster looks more like 'what happened?' than a finished product. But Thwaites is an inspiring maker, as he embraces his failures, recalibrates the 'rules' as necessary (using a high-tech piece of machinery like a microwave, for example, was not part of the original plan), and sees the project through to the end." -- San Jose Mercury News
"One of the most exciting books to come across my desk in the last while.... A hilarious, wonderfully wrought account of how hard it is to really make anything from scratch, much less an electronic device." -- Aaron Britt,
"The Toaster Project raises fascinating questions.... Thwaites's eagerness to learn and his determination to see the project through--not to mention the author's engaging writing and the novelty of the project--makes this book a winner." -- Make online
"Thomas Thwaites has turned toast into a philosophical inquiry." --
"This fascinating book follows the adventures of Thomas Thwaites as he attempts to build a toaster. from scratch. He molds his own plastic, extrudes his own nickel-chromium wire, and refines iron ore to build the frame. It's an entertaining and well-written book, and I love how Thwaites embraces failure as a part of the story, which is a reality for many "maker" style projects" --
"As befits the project, the book is hilarious. I never though reading about iron smelting and descents into mines would be so engrossing."-- We Make Money Not Art
"At once a charming manifesto for the maker movement and a poetic reflection on consumerism's downfall, The Toaster Project is a story of reacquainting ourselves with the origins of our stuff, part Moby-Duck, part The Story of Stuff, part something else made entirely from scratch." -- Brain Pickings
"Funny and thoughtful" -- the Boston Globe
"I particularly admired his can-do attitude and loved his heroic ignorance-is-bliss abuse of a microwave oven." -
"Incredibly entertaining and well-written." -- International Sculpture Center blog
"It's fun, and you'll get a little smarter, and maybe you'll appreciate our ancestors and their smarts a little more." -- Science 2.0

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