Still doing more research on that, I finally got my 250 count. 9in biodegradable plates in the mail that I am going to pulp and try re-forming this week- thanks so much to Justin from BeGreen Packaging.
To make sure I was still being productive, I began making some scale models of the handle shapes I liked to make sure that they were actually ergonomically suitable for everyday use. I had a short meeting with one of my professors, Jan-Henrik Anderson, who encouraged me to explore different grips and hand positions: Make a handle that can be comfortable for all kinds of people regardless of handedness and task directed hand grips.
After having some friends hold the handle forms, it appears that this is the most successful in comfort although there are some tweaks that need to be done: the finger recess could be more shallow, and the handle itself should be longer so your pinky isn't falling off the tail end. The good? the curved down top allows for hands-specifically palms-of all sizes to fit comfortably around the handle for a secure grip.
Unfortunately, when I was sanding this handle, the far left drop down chipped off so I think I will need to re-make this handle using some of the tips regarding the successful form above to truly test whether this is a good handle form or not.
This clay mold is just used to see what general shapes are comfortable to hold in different hand positions-this is much easier and faster than going to the wood shop with every new handle idea that crosses my mind.
The main reason I am doing these trials and errors is because I want this object to be desirable in its own right, whether people know that it is biodegradable or not. It's great when a customer buys something just because it has an "eco-friedly" sticker on the package, but I want the attraction for my product to come even before that knowledge is acquired by the user. In this sense, it will be like the biodegradable aspect is just an added bonus getting users to think, "wow this is a great and good looking product, what other objects that I own could have been treated this way and made with the future in mind?"