Sand Journey

— Grains of Sands

Following an ancient Roman glass and sand trade route, Atelier NL took a sand collection journey that spanned several countries in Western Europe. By arranging the sands in relation to the map of the land, Atelier NL created a tactile material map. By walking through the map, one can experience the different types of sands that occur along this ancient route. Each sand has a story to tell. Atelier NL discovered new material potentials and forms by working with different sands. Contextual elements and geological data shed light the way each sand formed. Under the microscope, in the light of history, and through the lense of craftsmanship, new stories materialize from everyday materials. Via experimentation with high firing and glass formulations, the sands yielded a wide array of colors, textures, and patterns. 

Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2010 ©Mike Roelofs 

"When I look at sand, I see different sizes and grains, structures and colors. Then I think that the sand is brought here by rivers, seas and winds. It has its own background and has traveled for years. What we do is we look at a beach and we see what beautiful elements it has and what it can deliver."

By taking photographs, collecting stones and twigs, and researching the geological history and chemical composition of sand samples, Atelier NL created a material archive of their Sand Journey. Using sands from quarries, beaches, and other sandy areas, Atelier NL combines scientific documentation with storytelling, revealing the complexity temporal layers and the unique materials that characterize each type of sand.

Atelier NL became familiar with an incredible diversity of sands during their sand journey. Through experimentation with various types of sand that hold no interest for manufacturers, Atelier NL pushes the conventions of the glass industry - which currently uses only pure white sands. When melted at high temperatures, natural sands fracture, foam, and crystallize according to their unique mineral signature. The glass made from wild sands reveal a wide array of colors, patterns, and textures. Each collector's box in Atelier NL's collection represents a contextual archive of a particular sand, featuring glass samples, geographical information, materials characteristic to the site, geological data, chemical composition, and photography. Through Atelier NL's SandBank project, scientific documentation is combined with storytelling, revealing the narrative of each unique sand’s development over time.