For nine months I've been trying to make an electric toaster, myself, starting from scratch. Travelling to disused mines around Britain, digging up raw materials, processing and forming them into a hand crafted pastiche of a product sold in Argos for the throwaway price of £3.94.
My quest is perhaps absurd, but the contrast in scale between the products we use and the industry that produces them also seems absurd. Massive industrial activity in the pursuit of additional modicums of comfort at lower prices - small trifles, like an evenly crispy piece of toast, that we quickly become accustomed too. However, I like toast, as well as many of the other trappings of 21st Century life. The laboriousness of producing even the most basic material from the ground up exposes the fallacy in a return to some romantic ideal of a pre-industrialised time. But at a moment in time when the effects of industry are no longer trivial in relation to the wider environment, the throwaway toasters of today seem unreasonable. The provenance and the fate of the things we buy is too important to ignore.