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Interview: The Handmade Toaster

This article is part of The GOOD (and ReadyMade) Guide to Slowing Down, from GOOD Issue 18. Read more of the guide here.Thomas Thwaites, a Londoner, decided he wanted a toaster. He didn't want to buy one, though, so he did what any normal person would do: He individually sourced every single part, and made his own.Why a toaster? A toaster, like no other object, says progress: additional modicums of convenience at ever-lower prices. Utility companies developed toasters in the early 1900s to stimulate domestic demand for electricity, as they weren't selling enough power in the mornings and evenings. One hundred years on, toasters are remarkably cheap and mundane, and our lives are filled with convenience-which is nice: I appreciate not having to light a fire every morning. But perhaps the realization is growing that convenience and price aren't all there is to it.How long did it take to make? Nine months.How many parts are there? Twenty-seven, using five different materials.What was the hardest part to get your hands on? Mica, the flat mineral that supports the element in toasters. Getting it involved traveling to a peninsula in Scotland, reachable only by boat, then hiking across mountains to hack a few sheets of mica off some rocks. We nearly didn't make it back.How many did you make? It is unique.Why is your toaster better than a mass-produced one you can get at a store? It means a whole lot more to me. I won't just throw it away when it's old. It's not actually better at making toast, though.Can you share a few words of wisdom about the benefits of doing things the slow way? It's time-consuming, hard work, and smelly. However, having an adventure for your toaster rather than just going to the shops is a lot more fun.Learn more: To find out more about how he made his (and how you can make your own), visit thetoasterproject.orgIllustration by Tim Lahan

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