Design, shape, create and experiment with kitchen tools!

Kitchen Island Experiments was a three-day workshop marathon that was organised by the Estonian Academy of Arts's student Zane Shumeiko at VIVISTOP Telliskivi. You can read in her summary how the idea was born and what exactly happened in the workshops.

Last spring I attended an exciting and very creative Social Design course in collaboration with Estonian Academy of Arts and VIVITA Estonia. Together with children, students and the VIVITA team we brainstormed about different possible areas of interest in the new Vivistop Telliskivi premises. One of our ideas was a kitchen area and we thought about possible activities there. From this, the proposal of experimentation in the kitchen with different materials and kitchen tools was born. I also worked together with my son to further develop a project from home and shared our experiences with VIVITA via Instagram and Zoom. We tried to answer the question: how might we use kitchen tools in an unusual way to create art and have funny playful experiments.

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Playful experiments with kitchen tools. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

This summer I was happy to be back in VIVITA and work with children in real life. In the three-day workshop, we learned properties of different materials and how to prepare them from simple ingredients which we can usually find in the kitchen (e.g. flour, salt, gelatin). We tried to use various kitchen tools in an unusual way to make art. The workshop was based on principles of learning through multi plural tactile experience. Children were invited to explore, discover and learn themselves together with an adult artist as a supportive and inspirational figure.

DAY 1 — How to make sweet jelly candies?

During the first day’s experimentation, we explored the taste and smell of different materials and created some edible materials. The goal of the day was to learn how ingredients modify when boiled together, how they change shape and substance when frozen or stuffed in different forms. We started the workshop with a round table talk, conversation and exploration of various ingredients and tools. There was a lot of communication through senses and emotions and this was a very important aspect for myself. It was great to realise that this type of workshop does not need many words, it can work very well through sensorial, nonverbal communication and it relates to principles of Italian designer and professor Bruno Munari about learning through doing.

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Reading the recipes and boiling syrup for jelly candies. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

Children were excited to keep some simple kitchen materials in their hands , for example, they liked to touch potato starch which reminded them of snow. They tried to smell various spices and syrup and other ingredients we had at our disposal. We had a great time around VIVITA kitchen’s stove. It was an adventure of mixing and boiling sugar, lemon, syrup and other ingredients to make various jelly candies. It was much fun to colour the liquid and pour it into the silicone forms which were disposed of in the fridge later for getting the right consistency. In the end, we had small sweet bites for the next coming workshop days.

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Colouring jelly with food colours and exploring edible bioplastic. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

I also proposed to make a wrapping material for candies, bio wrapping plastic which is edible as well and biodegradable. I made this at home in advance because it needs to dry very long, approximately 3–5 days to be ready. Children saw how the final product looks, they helped to remove it from the plastic surface and tried out how this works to wrap a candy.

They said that they enjoyed all the process and some of them asked for recipes (scroll down for more info).

DAY 2 — Can you make 3D printing with salt dough?

The second day’s topic was creating a salt dough from simple home kitchen ingredients (flour, salt and water) and using it for cutting, forming, shaping, rolling and imprinting with different tools. At the beginning of the workshop, we played a game. All the tools were hidden inside a big box and children took them out one by one with closed eyes and tried to describe and guess what these objects were. This was a fun way for exploring materiality and diversity of shapes and functions of various tools.

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Exploring the toolbox. What hides inside? Photo: VIVITA Estonia

Then we divided into groups of two and started to explore together and make our salt dough. Some children chose to colour it with food colours and enjoyed very much the process of creating coloured modelling dough. There was confusion because the dough felt so sticky the moment of kneading it by hand but it became pleasant later when it became more uniformed and ready for modelling. Everyone made multiple trials and many experimentations with various tools. The meat mincer machine was one of the most popular ones as it provided infinite options and variations of moving long shapes which reminded a 3D printed snake, a sculpture, a beard or macaroni.

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Making the salt dough. It’s sticky! Photo: VIVITA Estonia

Also, standard modelling clay was introduced and it worked well with the garlic press and the grater, but overall salt dough remained the most favourite. Children played with it over and over again. They made textures, imprints, small decorations, figures and sculptures. Some kitchen grains were proposed to make additional decorations and textures. This workshop provided infinite possibilities to re-use the same material again and again and some nice finished products were made even though that was not the main goal of the workshop.

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Shaping the dough into 3D forms. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

Ready salt dough sculptures need to dry approximately 2–7 days or to be slowly baked in the oven and then they become strong and solid and may be coloured and covered with varnish or other finishing.

DAY 3 — Imprinting sand and colour and painting with kitchen tools

The third day’s main goal was to make creative textures with kitchen tools using colours, glue, sand and various kitchen grains. We explored and learned together different properties of these materials and how they interact with surfaces.

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Tools and materials for exploration. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

We started the workshop exploring and trying to guess and tell our feelings about different materials. Around the table, we had many bowls filled with a variety of kitchen grains (flour, coffee, lentils, beans, rice) and some sand. Children had a sensory experience by touching and smelling all of these materials and after they told which one they prefered. “Because it is so soft and pleasant, I can make everything from it…” someone said about flour. Another girl was excited about the idea to paint with coffee. Children mixed and matched freely all the tools and materials and created their textures and artworks on paper, cardboard and fabrics.

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Full speed ahead: mixing, printing, colouring! Photo: VIVITA Estonia

Further exploration of the project could be finalizing and giving feedback about the outcomes and explaining ideas behind all the work. There is a potential for many ideas to be developed into bigger scale collections of artworks or projects. However, this workshop’s main goal was not to have a final product of conceptualisation. It was about questioning, curiosity, wondering, discovering, having fun and an interesting time together.

Overall this practice was a great, energetic and very participatory experience for both children and adults. It was learning together through happy, creative playful activities. I think we managed to find the connection, meaningful motivation and the aim of the workshop was completely achieved.

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Thank you for all the participants. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

This workshop was implemented as an internship within my studies at Estonian Art Academy. I would like to thank Eva, Vera, all children who participated and the VIVITA team for the wonderful collaboration and the possibility to make this happen!

Text: Zane Shumeiko, Estonian Art Academy’s MA student in Textile Design department

Pictures: Steveli Säde, Vera Naydenova, Zane Shumeiko

Enjoy all the recipes!

Jelly candies with agar-agar recipe

100 ml of fruit syrup

100 gr sugar

5 gr agar-agar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

80 ml of water

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

- put agar-agar in a heat-resistant bowl, mix with 50ml water and leave for 15 min

- put the bowl in a pot with a hot water bath, mix while it is melted

- put 30 ml water and sugar in a small pot, mix and bring to boil

- mix melted sugar with syrup, agar-agar and lemon juice

- boil everything on low heat, stir and heat for 5 min

- pour everything into small forms and put into the fridge for some hours

Jelly candies with gelatin recipe

2 tablespoons gelatin powder

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar

Some essence (for example, vanilla) or food colour

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

mix ½ cup water with gelatin and leave for some minutes to swell

- stir in pot sugar with ½ cup water while it is melted and becomes dense

- add gelatin to the sugar syrup and add essence and/or food colouring,

stir well

- pour the liquid into small silicon forms

- keep in the fridge approximately for 2h, then your jelly candies are ready to taste!

Bioplastic edible candy wrappers recipe

400ml water

10gr gelatin

2,5 ml glycerin (for food or medical glycerin from the pharmacy)

Flat plastic lids, empty containers to mould the bioplastic

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

- pour the water into the small saucepan

- sprinkle the gelatin over the surface

- add the glycerin

- start heating the pot and stir until gelatin is dissolved (do not boil)

- spread the mixture with a spoon in a thin layer into the moulds

- wait 3–4 days until it’s dry

- remove with the help of a toothpick

Salt dough recipe

2 cups wheat flour

1 cup of salt

1 cup of water (warm)

2 tablespoons of oil

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

- stir the flour and salt together

- gradually add water, stir and mix

- add oil

- mix everything, knead for approximately 5 min until a nice consistency is reached

- keep in the fridge for about 30 min to cool down before modelling

Written by

Kids and Youth Creativity Accelerator

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