Hilde Fledderman


Mussels at home


Living on the dead

Zebra mussel cluster. Photo taken by D. Jude, Univ. of Michigan.

The Mussel Chair by Danish Designer Hanne Kortegaard

The Mussel Chair by Danish Designer Hanne Kortegaard

Looking at its design, Mussel chair seems to present a modern chair but with a little touch of classical flare. This exclusively designed chair by Hanne Kortegaard is suitable for all ages and is indeed intended not only for young people but also children and adults as well. The Danish designer has tried to visualize the symbiosis that can occur between child and adult in a cozy environment. She transfers the concept and form of the mussel, into a form where she has let herself to be inspired by the mussela??s idiom. Because, for Hanne Kortegaard, the mussel symbolizes and expresses the symbiosis and dependence of two objects: the shell and the mussel.

The Mussel Chair by Danish Designer Hanne Kortegaard

The Mussel Chair by Hanne Kortegaard 2

The Mussel Chair by Danish Designer Hanne Kortegaard

The Mussel Chair by Hanne Kortegaard 3

The master student: 3D Printing with mussel shells

A ceramic-like material made from mussel shells that can be used in 3D printing and recycled over and over again. Industrial Design Engineering student Joost Vette (24) turned a waste product into something useful.

  • Name: Joost Vette
  • Study: Industrial Design
  • Title: Shining Light on Mussel Shells

The Netherlands, in particular the province of Zeeland, produces millions of mussels every year. The meat is consumed and the shells are discarded. It is the perfect example of a take-make-dispose model.
Joost Vette believes in a circular economy, a model in which there is no waste and he believes that 3D printing can play a big role in this. “It enables local manufacturing, eliminating transportation costs. Even better is if you can use local products and recycle them locally, closing the material loop.”
Earlier research proved that ground up mussel shells can be used in 3D printing. Vette took it upon himself to create the perfect recipe, using only local and easily recyclable products.
To do so he turned to cookbooks. “If you heat the shells in the oven, it reduces any left-over meat and makes the shells very brittle. You can then blend them, even in a kitchen blender. One challenge was finding the right viscosity. The material has to come out of the nozzle easily, but not spread everywhere.”

‘A lot of materials become weaker when recycled, this one does not’

To find the best blend to print with, Vette tested different materials like starches and seaweed. Sugar, ideally from sugar beet, turned out to be the winning component to create a smooth paste.
Anything printed with the material can be recycled simply by dissolving it in water. “If you use the right amount of water, you can just pour the material back into the printer. A lot of materials become weaker when recycled, this one does not.”

After creating the right blend, Vette started looking for applications. “There are a lot of projects to make tourism in Zeeland more circular. This material could be part of that. You could print lamp covers that – when broken – could be remade locally. Another option is using it as support material in 3D printing. Water dissolves the support material, after which it is ready to be used again for printing.”  

Spending months researching mussel shell paste has only made Vette more excited about the material. “I hope to continue with it professionally. And yes, I still like eating mussels!”


  • Make the shell in a different material, can the inside of the mussel survive in a different material.
  • Use the shell to make different material. Plaster? Clay? What happens if I add water and bake it?

If I can make a ceramic like material, can I than bake it? Can I make a pan to cook the mussels in? Can I make a plate to eat them from? Create again this food loop, just like I did with ‘Het SerVies’.

  • Can I make a glaze out of them? From the shells or from the inside?
  • Do I want the species to be alive?
  • What kind of object can I make?



Fork as how we use an empty shell to take the other mussels out of their shell and eat them.

In a different material but in the same shape.

  • Filtering of the water

Does it mater in what kind of salt water they are? Is water with different reasons why its roily harder or less hard to filter for them.

  • How long do they stay alive in water without ebb and flow?

Art works related to mussels

James Schoppert

Art Thompson


Michael Johnson
Sculptor Michael Johnson’s work, called ‘Memory and Reflection’, is 12ft high and 6ft feet wide.
The stainless steel sculpture depicts aspects of Musselburgh’s history with images of agriculture, people, connections to the sea, the river and the Romans. The face of the sculpture is mirror polished and reflects whatever stands before it.
Mr Johnson, from Nottinghamshire, sees these two aspects of the shell, the memory and reflection, as metaphors for a work which interprets the history of the town and offers a reflection of how the town is viewed now.
A working group made up of community representatives selected the mussel shell for the commission. Mr Johnson undertook activities with local groups and schoolchildren to create designs for bronze inserts incorporated onto the main sculpture.

The fisherfolk stone sculpture at Murdoch Green will be moved to a seating area in front of the Shell petrol station, also off Edinburgh Road.
The mussel shell is one of two works of art funded by Tesco at a cost of £76,000 as part of the council’s Percent for Art policy, which was a condition of planning consent for the company’s present store.
The other is an archer planned for the banks of the River Esk, with its installation expected to be next week. A trail of arrows around the town is also planned and will link in with a Global Treasure App, a treasure trail organised by Musselburgh Area Partnership.

Marcel Broodthaers – Pot of Mussels – 1968

The mussel shell is a common material in the artist’s work. Here, he filled a shallow pan past its brim with the shells and paired them with an equally heaping bowl of painted wooden french fries. This combination is a witty nod to Broodthaers’s heritage, as moules-frites (mussels and french fries) is generally considered the Belgian national dish. Moreover, in French, la moule (a mussel) is close in pronunciation and spelling to le moule (a cast or mold), a traditional device used by sculptors. By incorporating the shells into his sculpture, Broodthaers transformed a verbal pun into a visual one.

Mussels – Quotes & Sayings

Sometimes I feel very young, and other times I feel like the side of a ship that’s got a bunch of layers of mussels and barnacles on it. – Author: John Darnielle

People are like mussels. You can put them in a vat of boiling water, and some of them will pop open immediately. Some of them will have to float around in the water for a bit, then they’ll slowly release. Others never open up at all, no matter what sort of hot water they’re in. – Author: Rhian J. Martin

Her fingers moved among barnacles and mussels, blue-black, sharp-edged. Neon red starfish were limp Dalis on the rocks, surrounded by bouquets of stinging anemones and purple bursts of spiny sea urchins. – Author: Janet Fitch

Mussels photographed in a specific way.

Picture: Peter Kaaden for the 2014 Vice Photo Issue. They may look like vaginas, but these anatomically correct (sort of) photos are actually of fruit, turkey sandwiches and mussels. German photographer Peter Kaaden has shot selected food up close and the results are these intriguing photos that look a lot like lady parts. The collection is called Zu Nahm which means ‘too close’ in German, and was shot especially for the 2014 Vice Photo Issue.


The mussel is one of the most common animal species on the Dutch and Belgian coast. In the Netherlands, farmed mussels occur in two areas: the Oosterschelde and the Wadden Sea, where the Wadden Sea is currently the largest producer of farmed mussels, also known as mussel seed. Mussel seed is also found on the Hondsbossche Zeewering, the piers of IJmuiden, Hoek van Holland and further on the basalt sea walls along the coast.

Revive our Gulf Overview


Mussels filtering water

Mussels can filter up to 350 liters of water a day.


Mussels, ‘super-filters’ that can help beat water pollution


Byssus threads and a starfish eating a mussel