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Art student invents new material using scrap paper

8 August 2017

Recent Manchester School of Art graduate Hannah Elisabeth Jones' 'Bio-Marble' is patent pending

A recent Manchester Metropolitan University art graduate has invented a new material made from recycled waste paper.

Hannah Elisabeth Jones, 22, originally from Wrexham, graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Textiles from Manchester School of Art in July. During her final year, she devised the concept for her new material invention ‘Bio-Marble’, when she noticed how much paper was being used by her fellow art students as part of their work.

She started experimenting with different uses for the waste paper, and through a “long process of trial and error,” she developed the new fabric.

“It was completely unexpected. I have always been an eco-conscious person, and all of my work throughout university was inspired by sustainability. But I never imagined when I enrolled at Manchester Metropolitan that I’d end up creating something completely original from scraps of unwanted paper,” she said.

Hannah creates individual units of the fabric using a method of material fabrication, each with a unique surface pattern. These are then stitched together using techniques inspired by traditional patchwork quilts. Bio-Marble is flexible and completely biodegradable.

She used Bio-Marble for individual pieces of artwork, which she submitted for her final project and exhibited at the Manchester School of Art Degree Show in June.

The property company Bruntwood originally commissioned her to create an artwork using the material for their offices in Manchester, and in recognition of her ingenuity, funded copyright protection of her work through Anti-Copying in Design (ACID) membership.

Bio-Marble is now patent pending, and Hannah is working to develop more functional uses for it, including setting the Bio-Marble in a hard surface to enable it to be used as tiles or in furniture design.

“I am still developing my practice as a young artist, but I want to keep working with Bio-Marble. As well as being decorative, there is a positive message to convey about the environment and reducing waste. I want to keep raising awareness of sustainability in art throughout my career.”

“I chose Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University because of the wide range of techniques and skills you are exposed to within the Textiles in Practice course; knit, weave, print and embroidery – so many exciting paths to explore. The Art School itself is beautiful and its workshops and facilities were excellent. Originally, I wanted to be a print designer, but that altered in the first few months of my degree as I had the opportunity to test new and inspiring specialisms.”

 “I had such fantastic support from my tutors. As soon as I approached them with the idea, they challenged my design processes which encouraged me to develop the quality of my new material. I would not be where I am without Manchester School of Art.”

Lesley Mitchison, Programme Leader in Textiles in Practice at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Hannah was encouraged to be experimental and exploratory in her use and choice of materials she worked with throughout her degree.

“Her outstanding achievement highlights the dedication and support of the teaching staff at Manchester Metropolitan and the range of opportunities available to students on the Textiles in Practice programme at Manchester School of Art that has enabled Hannah to grow and develop as an independent and creative designer.”

A solo exhibition of Hannah’s artwork using Bio-Marble opens at the GK Gallery in Manchester this September.

Hannah has been asked to submit samples to show at MoOD in Brussels for their Innovation Sample Bank and at Design Junction in London. She also was recently awarded the ‘Material Lab Loves’ Award and the ‘Colour in Design Loves’ Award at the prestigious New Designers 2017. In November, she will exhibit and speak at the Northern Design Festival.

She hopes to continue her art studies with a Masters in London in the near future.