Making waste work in Chingford

Discarded building materials are being put to good use
By Victoria Munro

A Plaster Works workshop (Credit: Good Waste/Blackhorse Workshop)
A Plaster Works workshop (Credit: Good Waste/Blackhorse Workshop)

A disused shop in Chingford has become a mini-recycling plant turning waste plasterboard into decorative bowls.

Plaster Works, open on Chingford Mount Road until 14th November, was created by the Blackhorse Workshop and design studio Good Waste, with help from Waltham Forest Council.

Rafael El Baz from Good Waste decided to find a new way to reuse old plasterboard after seeing the number of skips filled with it while cycling around Chingford.

For the next two weeks, Plaster Works will run three workshops a day using his carefully developed technique to create marble-effect bowls out of building waste.

A decorative bowl made at Plaster Works (Credit: Good Waste/Blackhorse Workshop)

Xenia Moseley from Blackhorse Workshop said: “Materials like this are often a finite resource and will run out so we have to start considering ways in which they can be repurposed.

“If plasterboard is left in a skip and gets rained on, the materials can become hazardous and run into our water system and, if it’s buried, it can emit dangerous chemicals. 

“And there’s lots of it. Due to the pandemic, there’s been a lot of renovations happening. People are stripping out plasterboard and it’s just going to waste, when it does not have to be.”

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The workshop, previously County Cameras photo shop, was “absolutely derelict” when the team arrived and had “pigeons nesting inside”.

The shop before its facelift (Credit: Good Waste/Blackhorse Workshop)

Xenia said: “The council wanted [Plaster Works] in this area because they want more stuff happening in Chingford.

“They renovated the space and turned it into a white cube and then we recruited a group of out-of-work young creatives, who turned it into the space it is now.

“We’re hoping this will make people more excited about where they live and encourage other small businesses and creatives to use this space after us.”

The project also found a new use for an old farm machine for grinding up corn, which now has a new lease of life as a plaster crusher.

The one-of-a-kind plaster crusher (Credit: Good Waste/Blackhorse Workshop)

Once the project is finished, the furniture – made from plaster using Rafael’s technique – will itself be recycled.

Xenia added: “In a dream world, there will be a Plaster Works in cities across the UK, somewhere people can go with waste and make beautiful things from it.”

Tickets for Plaster Works workshops are available here.

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