Archive for April 11th, 2015

T1-MMT-P1-p3-e1 Fusing plastic – third session

Sample p1-39. The plastic is from a US postal sack. Quite heavy. It looks like woven strips, but in a quick attempt I couldn’t pick it apart, so perhaps it is already fused in some way.

Sample_p1-39. Material

Sample p1-39 Material

Inclusions are plastic drinking straws, cut into little rings, tubes, slivers, and longer bits with the bend in them (accordion folds? linear crumpling?).
Sample_p1-39. Before

Sample p1-39 Before

The iron at my normal silk-to-wool setting had no apparent effect. At a higher setting the postal bag shrivelled up. There was no adhesion of bag to bag. Some of the straw bits and pieces adhered to a layer, but there wasn’t enough flexibility in the bag for the bendy bits to bend (plus they were ironed flat, which impacts bending).
Sample_p1-39. After

Sample p1-39 After

Sample p1-40. Continuing bendy idea, this time with carrier bag (with colour, but turned to back so not too strong, and clear polythene on top.
Sample_p1-40 Before

Sample p1-40 Before

Sample_p1-40 After

Sample p1-40 After

Sample_p1-40 After reverse

Sample p1-40 After – Reverse

Adehesion of layers was good, as expected from earlier samples. A festive, party look, and the colour showing through on the white reverse is quite good too.
When cooled I could get some bend and distortion with just a bit of force and determination.
Sample_p1-40 Bent

Sample p1-40 Bent

It didn’t seem to damage the lamination too much, but enough to show some interesting colour on the back.
Sample_p1-40 Bent reverse detail

Sample p1-40 Bent – Reverse detail

Sample p1-41. I had a roll of material, sold as shelf liner. The top is foil embossed in a grid, the back a thin sheet of plastic flexible foam of some kind???

Sample p1-41

On the left the original material, centre with a light iron on the top only, right a longer iron on both sides. All pieces started the same size, and there is little if any shrinkage. I particularly like the texture in the centre -a space-age tree bark – but there is a lot of curling, which could make use difficult.
Sample p1-42. Plastic non-slip mat.
Sample_p1 42a

Sample p1-42a

On the left the original material. On the right after ironing both sides. No distortion or shrinkage, just flattening.
Sample p1-42b. I ironed the original piece above left, just up the centre, then held it stretched as it cooled.
Sample_p1 42b

Sample p1-42b

Some distortion where it was ironed (warm), and ruffling at the sides.
A new world of possibilities, introducing distortion while cooling.
Sample p1-43. Made a shape in the sand tray – a mound with a cross in the middle.
Four layers of carrier bag.
Sample p1-43 Shaped sand

Sample p1-43 Shaped sand

During this session Nola left a comment suggesting Kinetic Sand. Too late today, but on the agenda for Sometime Soon.
Sample p1-43

Sample p1-43

Definite shaping. I can push it flat, but it mostly springs back.
Sample p1-44a. Decided to try a simpler shape and thinner material. Three layers of polythene.
Sample p1-44a

Sample p1-44a

OK-ish, but very floppy. Hard to move quickly enough, and the sand is cold.
Sample p1-44b. Can I iron it while on the mould?
Sample p1-44b

Sample p1-44b

Nope – didn’t work.
I had been thinking of another version, with inclusions and lacey edges, but there isn’t enough of anything here to bother.
Sample p1-45. Lots of little bits, looking for a lacey effect.
Sample p1-45 before

Sample p1-45 Before

Sample p1-45 After

Sample p1-45 After

Lacey is an understatement. Very fragile – but it could be part of a wonderful textural base to something.
Sample p1-46. Perhaps something more dramatic- a single layer of black with colour bits on top.
Sample p1-46

Sample p1-46

Not what I was expecting. The thin layers have degraded badly and it is just dull.
Sample p1-46 detail

Sample p1-46 Detail

A detail shows the mix of texture and colour. The photo flatters it.
Sample p1-47. Back to white plastic and no base sheet. Included some non-slip stuff – no idea if that will adhere. Also many more pieces of white.
Sample p1-47 Before

Sample p1-47 Before

I was expecting not to like this, but I do.
Sample p1-47 After

Sample p1-47 After

Reasonably solid, interesting textures and layering.
Sample p1-48. In the past I’ve used disperse dyes on synthetic fabrics (dyes suitable for cellulose and protein fabrics, eg cottons and silks, won’t hold). You paint disperse dyes on paper, then when dry iron the paper on the fabric, and the colour transfers. Would that work on plastics?
I used four layers of white carrier bag, and strips of 3 colours of paper I’d painted years ago with the dyes.
Sample p1-48

Sample p1-48

On the left the plastic, on the right some more of the paper. (The strips I used are all curled up. I left them to cool on the plastic and they stuck. A quick re-warm fixed that.)
Good colour. The surface of the plastic is very smooth there – I think there was an embossing effect – yet another thing to experiment with.
Sample p1-48 Reverse

Sample p1-48 Reverse

On the other side the colour is fainter and textured – a weathered effect.
Being able to add colour really opens up possibilities.
Sample p1-49. On the last sample a corner got caught up before / as I ironed, giving a multiple layer effect. Possibilities?
Two flat layers of white carrier plastic, with three strips of linear crumpled plastic between.
Sample p1-49 Before

Sample p1-49 Before

Sample p1-49 After

Sample p1-49 After

Good texture, although it really needs the lighting to work. Flat on a surface is dreary.
There are so many more possibilities and leads to follow up here, but I’ve used up my allocated time and need to move on.

T1-MMT-P1-p3-e1 Fusing plastic – third session
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 1: Surface Distortion
Project 3: Heating and fusing
Exercise 1: Fusing plastic

T1-MMT-P1-Research More surface distortion

Janet Fieldhouse makes ceramics expressing her Torres Strait Island heritage. Those based on the tradition of woven fibre baskets, mats and armbands in that culture flow and meld into organic forms. The examples I have seen photographed are all in a pure cream porcelain, all the focus on the light and shadow of the forms.

Fieldhouse’s cultural investigations are concerned with female objects. She is working to maintain a history, sometimes one no longer in current use – for example wedding pendants and scarification. Her use of materials is experimental. The slumping is a result of the behaviour in the kiln of the Keraflex flexible porcelain she uses. Initially devastated by unintended results of firing, she decided to take advantage of it.

Stranger, L. (2014) ‘Janet Fieldhouse’, Artist Profile, 29, pp. 52 – 55.
Mark and Memory: Janet Fieldhouse (no date) Cairns Regional Gallery. Available at: (Accessed: 11 April 2015).

At a personal level Fieldhouse’s base of the objects of the women of her culture, even the name of the exhibition “Mark and Memory”, attract me. Beautiful forms attract the eye, but a continuation – a reclaiming – of history and culture of people is so much more.

The experimental approach to materials is relevant to the course, and some of the forms created by Fieldhouse are superficially similar to ones seen in the Tearing and Cutting project. The shapes also had me thinking of slumped glass, where the hard surface takes on the shape and texture of the mould beneath it in the kiln. Could that idea be used with melting sheets of plastic – either after ironing while still warm, or under the blowtorch. That was the beginning of the tray of damp sand, seen used unsuccessfully in a recent side exploration (10-April-2015).

The blog of Mrs Kamp, a teacher in the Middle School at Calvert, offers another possibility – this one inspired by the work of Dale Chihuly. The eighth graders used permanent markers to decorate clear plastic drinking cups. Mrs Kamp melted the cups in a toaster oven, then joined them using fishing line to create an installation piece for the school.

Kamp (2013) ‘Chihuly Inspired Chandelier’, The Calvert Canvas: Adventures in Middle School Art!, 19 April. Available at: (Accessed: 11 April 2015).

Jo Deeley Jane of Epocktextiles left a link to this artist in a comment. Wonderful!

Deeley graduated in Multi-media Textile Design (BA) at Loughborough University and has a Masters Degree in Textile Art. Her Summer Exhibition of her final year’s work is full of examples of folding and pleating in textiles, using an adventurous, experimental approach. I particularly like a hanging shown over a window –, like a modern sculptural version of a lace curtain.

In her gallery of Woven Sculptures Deeley takes advantage of double weave and areas of exposed warp, combined with shaping and manipulation of the material off the loom. See for example

The Folding gallery includes both paper and textile works. Some fascinating results, and it reminds me of the impact of repetition of shapes. One on its own is a curiosity, dozens create impact, a totally new surface.

Knotting, Tying and Layering – such wild, deep textures!

I find Deeley’s work very exciting. It brings the folding and manipulation exercises I’ve been doing in paper and plastic right back into the world of textiles – real outcomes of the studio/class explorations. She uses a lot of traditional techniques, especially weaving and knotting, which are particularly attractive to me. Her work can be wild and messy and is full of life and energy.

As a contrast, see the work of Susie Taylor, particularly her investigation of weaving and origami together ( (I found Taylor’s work via Tien Chu’s blog, Susie Taylor is a textile designer, designing for jacquard looms. She also holds a Certificate of Excellence from the Handweaver’s Guild of America. Works such as Chrysalis, 2015, woven and folded linen and silk, and Silver Lining, 2014, woven and folded with linen & spun silk, are amazing and experimental and incredibly skillful. However they don’t inspire me personally. I considered the Certificate of Excellence before finding the OCA course, and definitely made the right choice for my own interests and aesthetics.

Coming back to Jo Deeley’s work, it is so directly inspirational and aspirational for me that it’s overwhelming. I have to take a grip on myself and believe that my current baby steps are leading somewhere, part of the process and not an end in themselves. I need to go back out to the garage and do the work.

T1-MMT-P1-Research More surface distortion
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 1: Surface Distortion
Research: More surface distortion

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April 2015

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