by Anna Ploszajski
From atomic structures to theories about magnetic forces, scientific progress has given us a good grasp on the properties of many different materials. However, most scientists cannot measure the temperature of steel just by looking at it, or sculpt stone into all kinds of shapes, or know how it feels to blow up a balloon of glass. Handmade is the story of materials through making and doing. Author and material scientist Anna Ploszajski journeys into the domain of makers and craftspeople to comprehend how the most popular materials really work.
Anna has the fresh perspective of someone at the forefront of the field. Each chapter features her accounts of learning from masters of their respective crafts. Along the way, Anna builds a fuller picture of materials and their place in society, as well as how they have intersected with her own life experiences – from land racing on American salt flats to swimming the English Channel. She visits a blacksmith, explores how working with the primal material, clay, has brought about some of the most advanced technologies, and delves down to the atomic scale of glass to find out what makes it 'glassy'. Handmade affords us a new understanding of the materials we encounter every day and an appreciation for the skills needed to fashion them into objects that are perfectly formed for the jobs they do.