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The Toaster Project: Or a Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch Paperback – September 28, 2011
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"At once a charming manifesto for the maker movement and a poetic reflection on consumerism's downfall, The Toaster Project is a story of reacquainting ourselves with the origins of our stuff, part Moby-Duck, part The Story of Stuff, part something else made entirely from scratch." -- Brain Pickings
"Funny and thoughtful" -- the Boston Globe
"The Toaster Project raises fascinating questions.... Thwaites's eagerness to learn and his determination to see the project through--not to mention the author's engaging writing and the novelty of the project--makes this book a winner." -- Make online
"One of the most exciting books to come across my desk in the last while.... A hilarious, wonderfully wrought account of how hard it is to really make anything from scratch, much less an electronic device." -- Aaron Britt, Dwell.com
"It's fun, and you'll get a little smarter, and maybe you'll appreciate our ancestors and their smarts a little more." -- Science 2.0
"Incredibly entertaining and well-written." -- International Sculpture Center blog
"I particularly admired his can-do attitude and loved his heroic ignorance-is-bliss abuse of a microwave oven." - ElectronicsWeekly.com
"Easily my favorite book this year, The Toaster Project should be required reading for artists, designers, consumers and anyone who has ever bought or thrown away a toaster. Thomas Thwaites, a graduate student at London's Royal College of Art, sets out to build a toaster from scratch -- not just an object that toasts bread, but one that aesthetically and mechanically replicates the ubiquitous $6 drugstore toaster.... Thwaites is a laugh-out-loud-funny but thoughtful guide through his own adventures, touching provocatively on ideas as far-ranging as medieval metallurgy, sustainability, mass production, and our 'throwaway' consumer culture. You'll buy it as a gift for the title and the concept, but you'll end up keeping it for yourself once you crack the cover -- so take my advice and buy two." -- NPR.org
"As befits the project, the book is hilarious. I never though reading about iron smelting and descents into mines would be so engrossing."-- We Make Money Not Art
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
In "The Toaster Project", Thomas Thwaites takes similar curiosity to the limit, as he tries to make --from scratch-- a most mundane piece of modern technology: an electric toaster (a device now into its second century of evolution).
In doing so, Thwaites first deconstructs a common household toaster with a plastic case (the cheapest one currently offered on Amazon (by Rival sells for around $12. He discovers a device containing somewhere between 157 to 404 separate "parts", depending on how you count and how far down you dissect the components. He broadly categorizes these as belonging to either "steel", "mica", "plastic", "copper" and "nickel" subsets and then sets about to fabricate a working one.
The result is an engaging and entertaining mixture of science, economics (especially the economies of scale and distance in the domain of mass production) and consumer technology. Even as Thwaites explores these areas, he never takes himself --or the project-- too seriously.Read more ›
The project is impractical and "ridiculous," but the author tells the story well, and I feel like I got something out of reading it. I am not sure it was what he intended for me to take away from it, because I don't share his take on the issues he raises in it about our mass consumer culture. I also don't think the project actually provides much support for the agenda he is trying to advance, and he seems at times to be forcing his quirky endeavor to make arguments that it isn't designed to sustain. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable story. I'd also like to add that the photography is superb and the text is arranged beautifully; it's nice to see a book receive so much care and attention in its production.
A second year postgraduate design student at the Royal College of Art, Thwaites begins a nine month 1187.54 pound sterling quest to build a simple pop up toaster. He doggedly pursues this goal and documents his way through it for his masters project as well as his own personal obsession with the idea.
The book is similar to that genre of cheap but entertaining books where the author decides to document a particularly crazy quest. The master of this genre is, of course, A.J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible or The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World). The protagonist goes through the kooky committed motions, but amidst the tongue in cheek prose the author eventually discovers some hidden truths that make the ridiculous romp somehow worthwhile. The writing and the contrived epiphanies keep the reader interested and will thus keep these authors afloat even in the time of a recession.
Thwaites' book is not so different from this genre. His goal is to make a toaster, but refuses to use a kit.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is wonderful in multiple ways.
1. It provides wonderful insight into sustainability
2. It is funny
3. The ideas are creative and refreshing
The quest to make a thing that you could buy for pocket change. But without the factories, the materials... Each part made from materials straight out of the ground. Read morePublished 4 months ago by S. Brown
Stunning! I could not put this down. This is an interesting way to understand how our everyday lives leave a global impact at a multitude of levels and how much we really take for... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
We don't think about the components that make up our every day objects and tools anymore. This was a wonderful reminder of where things come from. Easy and fun read!!Published 9 months ago by Olga A Rohde
A little bit of everything: some history, some technical details, some preaching.
I take this as a graduate project released as a book.
This is a fun book, and a quick read, but it bugged me a bit that the author bent some of his own rules a little bit too much in my opinion. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
As consumers in the modern economy, this will really help being into focus the hidden costs of all the stuff we are buying. Read morePublished 19 months ago by waldo647
I purchased 2 copies of this book for my children after reading a library copy myself. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book and also how much I learned about mining and... Read morePublished on January 4, 2014 by Vintage Venango