Field testing

Field testing items in use in the home!


The essential ingredients for making an APT(Appropriate Paper-based Technology) item are: paper, cardboard, flour for paste and....basic engineering principles.


It takes practice to make strong durable, useful items, so field testing is very important. Making Paper Furniture items involves field-testing; enjoying, adapting and sometimes rejecting items. There is a long history of fieldteasting starting in HEARU (a Unit doing training and bench research into low-cost simple to make assistive devices).


Having been inspired and taught by Bevill Packer, the Westmacotts who were working at HEARU, made items to test with students and also made a sofabed for use at home in 1989.

This has survived 3 children growing up and a busy household and is still in use on a daily basis 27 years later. It underwent a few repairs and was repainted with homemade earthpaint in 2012.



































 How many people can squeeze

on a Paper Sofabed?
















Paper Furniture Volunteers started 2014 year by trying out something to fieldtest in the house.

This is the story of a joint success

Wales----the guitar

I cannot accurately remember when we went to Wales, or the name of the chap who inspired our guitar coffee table. The thing is I always feel that whenever I meet someone or wherever I go I always come away with something that makes a mark on my mind. I might forget everything else but I will without fail recall the incident or the person and what I learnt from there. Mostly it has been to my advantage.


I was so impressed by Margaret's guitar coffee table I could not stop talking about it. If someone asked me about the trip  all they wanted me to describe was the weather,the scenery, and a couple of tea shops, but they gained an earful about the guitar. My husband pointed out that I will start boring people to such an extent, the minute they saw me they will say, "I must go, I am very busy today"(that is, if they have not managed to cross the road when seeing me").


Yet, Margaret had a bigger surprise in store for all of us. She made another one to show in our fairs. I remember how patiently she had made the stencils. The original ones had been left in Wales. Carol painted it. It looked so beautiful.


Carol is such a humble lady, all she says is she likes to be useful but cannot work in glue. One has to see her paintwork to discover her hidden talents. That applies to each and every one in our group. When people appear as novices they make it clear that they have come to find out about our cardboard techniques. A short time later you soon find out their individual talents, their valuable advice, it is impossible to put a price on their valuable contributions. Even if someone comes for an hour a week we all learn so much from each other, on top of the jokes and the laughter.


Carol's paintwork took me by surprise. The week before I had worked with her to cut a few basset cartoons for my husband's waste paper basket and had gone home thinking " well, nice lady. If she cannot work in glue I might as well find few more cartoons for her to cut". Any kind of assistance is useful. Then I saw the guitar table that she had painted! I kept touching it. It was such a masterpiece! Margaret realised how mad I am. I kept touching the artwork and the table as if it was a living being. I could almost give it a few hugs.


Next week Margaret and Carol had a shock waiting for me. Margaret said," I am making you a guitar table". "What?" "But I had not asked for one!" I told her really there was no need. She replied that she had already cut the pieces ready to put 'angle irons', 'corner irons' before we start 'strapping.' (Now all these sound like technical terms but once people work with us they realise how much fun they are and the rewards the bring). Personally knowing how long it takes to cut pieces for the guitar shape I was so touched. When she said; "and the painting has been organised, Carol is doing it", honestly I fell on the floor. I took time to lift myself to say; "Oh Margaret, you should not have", a person hard of hearing, standing half a mile away would have known how insincere I sounded. Secretly I was so pleased. Soon the table was ready. Margaret being a perfectionist took it home to tidy up a few edges, Carol worked on it. When we saw it I did not know what to say. Describing it, I will not do it justice.


We intend to take it to craft fairs to show people what can be achieved, how an object so beautiful can be developed from an idea, using cardboard, newspaper and glue. I keep looking at it home. This week we took it to Jean’s house because David, our newcomer had not seen it and my description might bore him no bounds, besides David travels nearly for an hour to get to us. He may not come to the local craft fairs. Chris asked me if it was necessary to show David the table. My answer was;" Of course it is". I will never get tired of showing it off besides talking about it. When David saw it I am sure he felt the same way as me. Out came his camera and he took so many angles of the table. Now I have discovered David is a ‘hands on’ photographer. Just waiting to see the photos he has taken. You can only do justice to this piece of work by looking at it at all angles.


The table is now in the sitting room. My husband was supposed to put his coffee mug on it but would he dare? Not until I have been to the hardware store and got Perspex material cut to size to protect Carol’s artwork. I am not exaggerating I often find him admiring it. This is the same man, who a couple of years ago was so bored and did not know how to kill time. He could not get used to leisure that he had yearned for all his working years. He spends one or two hours a week working with the group at the unit in Medstead or in Four Marks at the Church of the Good Shepherd, who have kindly let us use their room once a month. He sits so proud looking at his own reading table, the guitar table, and the chair he has made for us. The guitar table has to be seen physically, my chat and the photos still will not do it justice. I also will have to control myself. I have developed this new habit of offering Carol's painting services. She will soon get fed up. We learn as we go on.


Sumi Gadd




 Of course smaller ones need enjoy having somewhere to sit and eat as well.


Field testing the walker


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