Workshop howto: bioplastic lamps – mifactori

Workshop HowTo: Bioplastic Lamps

img by Tim Van der Loo (c)


In this workshop we will take old poster from the lanterns and work them piece by piece in bioplastics around. That’s how we make desk lamps and candlesticks.

Schedule / modules:

The workshop was designed and carried out by the designer Tim van der Loo within the framework of “Palace of the projects – the ecological future city” in the Fichtelgebirge elementary school Berlin. Documented is a performance with 25 children between 8 and 9 years and 3 adults (2 artists, 1 teacher * in) over 3 days with 3.5 hours working time for the children (8: 00-12: 00).

Here there is a rough overflight too individual steps. If you want to do the workshop yourself, it is worthwhile to do a deeper search in other sources. The best way to start on the side of the workshoperfinder Tim van der Loo.

Metadokumentation: The GIFs in the documentation were sometimes MOV files. They were cut with MPEG Streamclip and then converted to GIFs online at

1. Get poster

We go out into the street and fill our pockets with old posters that take students away from lanterns.

2. Shred paper & water

The students get small containers (old plastic buckets in which the supermarket gets flowers delivered) and crush the posters by hand – make very small snippets of it. It already brackets and adhesive tapes and similar foreign bodies are removed.

Then water comes in our buckets. Overnight the crowd stops.

3. Shredding

The paper pulp is shredded with a stirrer. This makes the paper smaller and smaller.

Occasionally one must thereby rid the stirrer of tape residues and the like.

4. wringing out

The children get pieces of cloth. That’s how they wring out their paper pulp. The water has to get out as far as possible.

What remains is an almost granular material, which we will use as starting or filling material for our bioplastics.

5. What happens to the water?

Tim tells the students what is in the remaining water – on the floor, glue and paint settle, water stays on top – and how to handle it. We suspect that much of it is biodegradable. But we can not know it.

6. Cook plastic and build with it

In the class we set up a cooking station. There we cook a load of bioplastics after the other and distribute them to the students.

Recipe as JPEG | Other open formulations with bioplastics 1 & 2 | One of many YouTube videos on bioplastic cooking
  • 240 g paper pulp
  • 200 ml of water
  • 36 g of corn starch
  • 3 g glycerin

Put everything in a pot and stir over medium heat until it has become a sticky kneading mass.

The pupils receive pieces of wood from the waste wood container of the Weissensee Art College in Berlin, which are pre-sawn and pre-drilled by Tim. Half of the class can make lamps, the other candlesticks.

The lampshades are molded into a plastic bucket. When choosing these vessels, you have to be careful. On some plastics, the bioplastics stick, so it is difficult to separate the mold from the molded one later. The molds used by us do not stick and simply fall off when the bioplastic has dried.

The children form or reinforce their objects with the bioplastics. Then we bring them to the palace to dry.

7. View results and final repairs

After one to two weeks, the bioplastic is dried. We visit the students again and look at the results. Tim also has a load of bioplastics with which we can correct any flaws, kinks and breakages.

We also drill holes for the lamp holder in the lampshades.

We have a long talk with the students about resource conservation and sustainability. And we also mention the “plate or plastic” problem of bio-based plastics (we use food for plastic.) Then there’s a feedback round and the farewell.

Then the project is over.

Have fun while copying or remixing!


A project from the:

The workshop was developed and carried out in the context of “Palace of the projects – the ecological future city” in the Fichtelgebirge primary school Berlin.

The text as well as all pictures on this page are under an open license (CC-BY). So you are free to use. What you have to pay attention to is here.

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