Turning milk to stone


This project explores methods of processing the protein (casein) extracted from cow’s milk as a completely natural alternative to oil-based polymers, utilizing surplus milk from the UK dairy industry to produce objects for functional use. 

Primarily an in-depth material investigation, the project champions a hands-on approach to designing, whilst promoting the consumption of more sustainable products and supporting a local economy. With this casein material possessing properties and manufacturing methods comparable to those of commercial thermoplastics, it has the capacity to be widely applied. Objects designed include a collection of tableware, demonstrating a crafted, small-scale approach to working with the material.

Casein plastics were produced commercially during the early 1900’s as an alternative to resources such as tortoiseshell and ivory, but faded from use due to the development of polymers derived from oil. This project explores a new way of processing and forming the extracted milk proteins.  

Skimmed milk is routinely wasted in large quantities at raw dairy farms in the UK due to the separation process required to make butter and cream. The project therefore does not suggest a mass increase in dairy production, but instead proposes the use of a commonly wasted and widely available raw material. Sponsorship has been provided by Hook & Son raw organic dairy farm by means of deliveries of their surplus skimmed milk.