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MaDe Participant
Name

Clay Slater Thompson

Material
Duckweed
Nationality
British
Classification
Vegetable
Workshop
London
Category
Industry
Profile

Born in London’s East End and brought up in Portsmouth, on the southern coast of England, I entered the world of architecture through the Interior Architecture program at University of Westminster. After graduation, I spent time interning at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City and since then I have worked in London as a designer at Perkins+Will. In 2017, I entered into the MA Interior Design program at the Royal College of Art in order to develop and interrogate my design agency. During my time at the RCA I developed a design practice that focuses on urban ecology; how humans and the city shape the way in which nature exists within urban environments. Using a detailed analysis of existing architecture and its material make up, new design typologies are crafted from natural and found materials. 

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Project Information
Material Qualities
Colour: Green
Soft / Hard: Soft
Shiny / Matte: Matte
Smells: Sour
Texture: Slimy when wet / brittle when dry
Material Recipe
Duckweed Green Paint
Scoop duckweed from surface of local waterway.
Spread thinly onto paper sheet and leave to dry in sun or place in dehydrator for approximately 1 hour.
Using a manual grinder, grind dried duckweed into a fine powder. Run through a sieve and remove larger pieces then
regrind these.
The duckweed should now resemble matcha tea, fine and green.
Measure out 1 part duckweed powder, 3 parts raw linseed oil and 1 part turpentine.
To combine successfully you will need a large hard flat surface, ideally a sheet of glass.
On the surface make a mound of duckweed powder scooping out a hole in the centre. Into this pour the linseed oil and
gradually fold together using a spoon or spatula. Once combined this should create a wet green paste.
Add to this the turpentine and mix well. Spread this thinly onto your surface and spend at least 10 minutes mixing
thoroughly. If the consistency is too thick more turpentine can be added.
When the desired consistency is achieved the paint liquid can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container.
Material Application
– Masonry paint
– Exterior metal paint
– Powder coating finish
– Timber oil stain
– Cement pigment
Material Method
– Skim duckweed from water surface using net
– Lay duckweed out on paper sheets into thin layer
– Dehydrate for approximately 1 hour until dry and crispy
– Remove any larger vegetation or waste
– Grind using hand grinder (or mortar and pestle) until fine powder
– Mix duckweed powder with linseed oil to create paste
– To paste add turpentine until paint consistency
Material Narrative
I first thought of working with duckweed when cycling over the canal on my way to work during the summer. The duckweed is impossible to ignore, at first glance the canal looks fluorescent green. The dense green coating covers almost 100% of the water surface and stays like this throughout the summer. Only when a canal boat carves a path through the duckweed can you see open water, which is swiftly recolonized by the duckweed. This abundance led me to question whether the duckweed has any negative or positive impacts on the waters and whether it could be at all useful. Further research showed me that the duckweed has minimally negative impacts on the water and I decided that I could turn this naturally occurring nuisance into a positive material. In developing the duckweed, I wanted to try as best as possible to experiment with the material’s inherent colour, as this is what stood out to me at first. Early processing led me to create a fine, bright green powder. I saw the similarities between this and the pigments used in paint production. I combined the powder with liquid to create a duckweed paint. Duckweed grows on water and I harvested the raw product from the canal water so it felt appropriate to return the duckweed to a liquid form. Having spent a lot of time on the waterways of east London I have seen the growth of inhabitation on boats and buildings that have sprung up along the canals edges. I wanted to create a paint that could be used on the architecture that is found on the waterways. The aesthetic of modern clean apartment buildings that have sprung up seems to clash with the ad hoc charm of the canal boats. Duckweed paint could become a hyper local paint for boat
dwellers and contract builders alike. This bumpy green paint would be a unifying moment in the changing landscape of east London, focusing attention on the importance of the existing natural landscape.
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MaDe, a project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of The European Union, aims at boosting talents towards circular economies across Europe partnering with design and cultural institutions, Elisava, Ma-tt-er and Politecnico di Milano. If you are living in Italy, the UK or Spain please apply to the MaDe workshops in the relevant cities.

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