Crangon Crangon: turning shrimp peels into ceramic glaze

Because 70 per cent of a shrimp consists of inedible material, the shrimp industry has a lot of waste material. Dutch designer Jade Ruijzenaars has been experimenting what can be done with this material and discovered it can be added to glaze to give it a unique effect.

The shrimp peel contains chitin, a polymer that is found in insects and crustacean like shrimp and lobster amongst others. It is one of the most found biological materials in the world. From chitin, chitosan can be extracted. Both these compounds have various applications, in cosmetics, medicine, packaging, bioplastics, agriculture and water purification.

For a long time, Dutch shrimp was transported to Morocco to be peeled, because of lower labour costs, before it was distributed in Europe. In the Netherlands, not much was done with the shrimp peels because there was not much in stock. This changed with the opening of an automatic peeling centre in Groningen, the Netherlands. Now, the shrimp waste in the Netherlands amounts to 60,000 kilograms per week.

In her project Crangon Crangon, Ruijzenaars adds this shrimp waste to a base glaze, using a material that is usually thrown away. Aside from the decorative effect the shrimp waste gives the glaze, the story behind it gives additional value.

At a high temperature, the calcium in the shrimp peel fuses together with the glaze, while other organic materials burn. The calcium gives the glaze a whitish gleam.

Ruijzenaars is currently experimenting with using the glaze on tableware. She uses the shrimp peels, which do not need to be processed, as a whole. She tries out different methods to create different effects. Ruijzenaars’ goal is to give insight in the processing of shrimp as well as the possibilities of the material.

Ruijzenaars’ Crangon Crangon project was exhibited during the Dutch Design Week 2016 (22-30 October).

Photos: Jade Ruijzenaars