Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Placentas put back in the picture

Amanda Cotton has developed a technique allowing parents to have pictures of their babies in frames made using the mother's placenta

Parents can now treasure pictures of their newborn babies in photo frames made using the mother's placenta thanks to a technique developed by a university graduate.

Amanda Cotton has found a way of adding dried and crushed pieces of placenta to moulds filled with clear casting resin to create marble-effect frames, and is already receiving orders from parents, according to the University of Brighton.

Miss Cotton uses the entire placenta to make a frame, first boiling and cooking it and then grinding it into small pieces before placing it into a mould with resin and other materials.

She said: "I have had a lot of positive feedback from mothers and fathers to be - and I already have clients."

One order has come from Ulrika Jarl, who is expecting her second daughter at Christmas, a university spokesman said.

After the birth, Miss Jarl will be keeping the placenta in a cool box for Miss Cotton to collect and turn into a frame.

Miss Jarl said: "I can understand why some people might find this a bit yucky but what attracted me was the use of materials that we think of as waste.

"I finished an MA in sustainable design at the University of Brighton a couple of years ago and these issues are close to my heart.

"We need to think of all waste in a completely new way, as raw materials which hold huge potential. Why not use human waste where possible?

"I have friends who swear by placenta capsules and say they give them much more energy, more milk and even combat the postpartum blues.

"You can donate placentas for training dogs to look for human remains. There are so many uses for these useful bits of tissue that kept your baby alive for nine months, yet the majority of placentas are just thrown away. That really is a waste."

Miss Cotton developed her picture frame technique before graduating this year in 3D materials practice (now design and craft) at the Faculty of Arts.

She said: "It is my belief that human by-products have just as valid an aesthetic value as their virginal material resource. From this starting point, I chose to create souvenirs which pin-point key times in one's life, using materials of personal significance.

"I chose the placenta because during my time at Brighton I lived with a midwife and it became apparent through her studies that there was little importance placed on the placenta, even though it is the link between the mother and baby throughout the entire pregnancy.

"My work is all about our incredible bodies creating materials which we love and care for yet, once separated from us, we are repulsed by and we feel the need to discard then. My work is about expressing the amazing and intricate materials our bodies provide."

The 25-year-old, who works for a London design company, has said she is expanding the range after receiving positive feedback from parents.

She said: "It is quite common for people to keep their baby's by-products such as the umbilical cord, first tooth or hair clippings to document their progress, along with photos and notes.

"The placenta is one of the first creations the mother and baby make together - why not celebrate that with a keepsake?"

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