Tips for reusing excess Jesmonite and being more waste-free
Updated: Mar 29
Terrazzo is a pattern design that was founded from upcycling and reusing excess waste marble and other building materials. Being over 500 years old, it's a design pattern that celebrates broken and discarded material and reforms them in a way that creates utterly unique patterns while providing a process to prevent excess materials ending up in landfills.
It's the ultimate waste-free design.
When working with Jesmonite, we use a similar process of combining an aggregate material with a base material, to replicate this same terrazzo style. There's a difference though, as for this process we are making our terrazzo chips "fresh" each time. Terrazzo is pattern that was founded from upcycling waste material, doesn't it feel that the original ethos of terrazzo is lost when we manufacture it in this way?
Well, lets not get ahead of ourselves. There are plenty of ways we can still introduce these waste-free manufacturing processes when working with Jesmonite.
Use reusable mixing tubs
This one will may feel a little counteractive, as reusable mixing tubs and mixing sticks are typically made from synthetic materials.
When we make our terrazzo chips, it's not always possible to remove all the material from the mixing tub. Instead, leave it to cure inside the tub and once fully dry, you can remove them from, giving you even more terrazzo chips to use!
Ensure your mixing tubs and mixing sticks are pliable so you can easily remove the cured Jesmonite from them. I would recommend the following utensils:
If you use a firmer mixing bowl, such as one made from glass or a hard plastic, you cannot allow Jesmonite to cure on the bowl as you will not be able to remove it afterwards. Therefore, you'd have to clean the bowl between each use.
You cannot clean your mixing bowls with water and then pour that water down the drain. Jesmonite is an acrylic resin; introducing microplastics into the environment and damaging your drains. If you are concerned about the water you contaminate when working with Jesmonite I have a guide for Creating a Gravity-Fed Water Filter for Jesmonite AC100 in 6 Simple Steps.
If you spill the mixture, let it cure
I am forever spilling Jesmonite on my workbench and floor when mixing colours or pouring the material into a mould. It's just what happens. I leave the material cure on my workbench and once dry, I take a wallpaper scraper and the Jesmonite easily removes itself from my table top.
I keep all those little spills and accidents and put them in a bucket. I have several buckets for different types of waste material, including one of random colours and samples. When I've built up enough terrazzo chips, I'll add them to a fresh batch of Jesmonite to create a truly upcycled piece.
Just because you dropped something or it didn't turn out quite right, doesn't mean it should end up in the bin.
Reuse your terrazzo mixture that has cured to the mixing bowl
While I am repeating the message from the first point, this is a design I rarely see anyone do. All those terrazzo artists out there, if you leave the mixture to cure in your mixing bowl and save up those pieces, eventually you'll have enough to create another terrazzo piece from the waste.
I call this my Celestial Range because they look like little galaxies.
The excess material from the previous terrazzo items creates a chip-inside-chip appearance. It's almost like a history of everything you've made over the previous few months.
These pieces really are unique and it's an excellent way to ensure nothing gets wasted. Guess what, once you make a mixture with these chips-inside-chips, save up that excess material on your mixing bowl and reuse them all over again!
The importance of being waste-free
Jesmonite is an "eco-resin". To put it bluntly, Jesmonite is not eco-friendly, rather Jesmonite is an eco-friendlier alternative to other harmful materials such as concrete and fibreglass. This means as creatives we need to ensure that when we work with the material, we do so in as sustainable a way as possibly in order to not produce waste or release harmful materials into our environment.
Some ways of doing this are to ensure we use all the material, don't pour it into our environment and use methods such as terrazzo patterns to upcycle any waste.