Archive for April, 2015



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

My previous session (8-April-2015) gave some basic familiarity with the idea of fusing layers of plastic to create a material suitable for stitching or other uses. Time to go a bit further.

Sample p1-25. Three layers of carrier bag, 1 layer fruit bag mesh, 1 layer clear polythene (perhaps – I really don’t know my plastics.) Very roughly 16 x 21 cm

Sample p1-25.

Sample p1-25.


Sample p1-25.

Sample p1-25.


Nice gridded texture. Polythene on front worked well – forms a seal, holds things in. I like the combination of bag pattern and mesh.
Minor distortion in mesh. Can I take advantage of that?

Sample p1-26. The same layer sequence, in an improvised anchoring system.

Sample p1-26.

Sample p1-26.


Sample p1-26.

Sample p1-26.


Sample p1-26.

Sample p1-26.


Some distortion of grid. Might be able to get more with an assistant to hold things.
Good “frill” effect at the end. Some distortion of the base – it will be interesting to see if the bond holds over time.
I can image a form of clothing -say a skirt, with frill and openness at the hemline.

Sample p1-27. Bubble wrap (quite small, thin bubbles) sandwiched between single sheets of carrier bag.

Sample p1-27.

Sample p1-27.


The bubble wrap has been hanging around a while and must have been more popped than I realised. I only heard one pop while ironing – thought it was more pressure than heat – but there is definitely a spacing in the pattern embossed on the surface. Could something be done with that?
The other side:
Sample p1-27.

Sample p1-27.


You might be able to see some cracking in the white of the plastic. It seems to be cosmetic only. Heat? Stretching as the bubble expanded?

Sample p1-28. I found some fresh bubble wrap and pierced some holes (dots of colour to make it clearer).

Sample p1-28.

Sample p1-28.


Hmm – did that without thinking which side will show best. The more bubbly side is up in the photo.
A single layer of bag either side – black so my dots wouldn’t show.
Sample p1-28.

Sample p1-28.


Not good definition on this side.
Sample p1-28.

Sample p1-28.


The photo is tricky, but there is definitely contrast in texture on the other side – unfortunately the writing is mirrored!
A closeup to show the contrast, which I think is very effective.
Sample p1-28.

Sample p1-28.

Sample p1-29. A different approach to texture. I have a plastic grid, which I’ll protect with baking paper. Then a rather crispy carrier bag with spots (to go with the square grid) and four layers of the standard carrier bag.

Sample p1-29.

Sample p1-29.


The flaw in the plan soon became obvious! I couldn’t iron both sides and keep the grid in place.
A metal grid would be a better idea, carrying the heat through.
As it was –
Sample p1-29.

Sample p1-29.


blah!

Sample p1-30. Going back to a previous idea.
This time a hessian grid – quite soft and open, from a garden supplies store. A thin pink plastic one side (I think it was a hotel laundry bag) and two layers of carrier bag on the other.

Sample p1-30.

Sample p1-30.


Interesting things happened while ironing!
Sample p1-30.

Sample p1-30.


Some nice embossing on the carrier bag side. I’d like to try distorting the grid of that open weave. The other side –
Sample p1-30.

Sample p1-30.


Basically no adhesion of the plastic, which distorted and went lacey in an intriguing way.

Sample p1-31. Following up the weave distortion idea, I cut a new piece of hessian and pulled it around.

Sample p1-31.

Sample p1-31.


I chose two layers of carrier bag on one side, one on the other to see if the embossing differs.
Sample p1-31.

Sample p1-31.


How disappointing!
Sample p1-31.

Sample p1-31.


Marginally less disappointing (a vanishingly small margin!)
Sample p1-31.

Sample p1-31.


Backlighting helps. Colour in the plastic could be good too.

Sample p1-32. Returning to that thin pink plastic, I decided to pre-shrink it. (I haven’t been keeping track of dimensions and shrinkage, as it seemed pretty uniform for everything else, but the cutting mat is shown here)

Sample p1-32.

Sample p1-32.


Sample p1-32.

Sample p1-32.


Not promising, but for the sake of the experiment I kept going, with a single layer of clear polythene each side.
Sample p1-32.

Sample p1-32.


Not easy to back light well, but this could actually have promise! Flat on the table it was very drab.

Sample p1-33. More trapping in polythene. A test of thicker materials some – game counters.

Sample p1-33.

Sample p1-33.


The day is getting old so I decided to push a bit harder – counters, feathers and rubber bands between single sheets of thin polythene.
Sample p1-33.

Sample p1-33.


It looks a bit like a bad shower curtain, but it survived!

Sample p1-34. For this I have to backtrack to work done at the beginning of the day, when I was collecting plastics together.
I wanted to make a woven mat of plastic filament to trap between plastic layers. Experimenting with short lengths I realised the filament was too inflexible and too set in a slight curve to manage. I tried pre-shaping parts, using the 3D pen. This is back to accordion pleats, introducing flexibility of a sort.

Sample p1-34a and b.

Sample p1-34a and b.


Initial positioning:
Sample p1-34c.

Sample p1-34c.


It might look a bit crazy, but I am an absolute believer in this. Not the detail, but the overall idea of using the knowledge and skills and techniques from one area and trying to apply them in another. I think that’s the way to develop one’s own work – bring all of your history to bear on the present, not to stifle things but to take them further, in your own direction.
Plus look at the surface distortion! Can I stabilise, perhaps add a surface skin to this?
I picked out the supports and wriggled things around.
Sample p1-34d.

Sample p1-34d.


Not flat, not hugely 3D. I love the way it’s hard to follow a line – a combination of order and chaos – but I also wonder about mixing colours.
Surely I can “trap” this somehow.
It intrigues me.
After consideration, I decided another colour would make the structure clearer.
Sample p1-34e.

Sample p1-34e.


Sample p1-34e.

Sample p1-34e.


At the end of the day I brought out this weaving and ironed it between 1 layer of white carrier bag and 1 layer clear polythene.
Sample p1-34f.

Sample p1-34f.


Another idea that “needs more development”. It stabilised things, but flattened them. No point in that!

(Sidetrack) Sample p1-35. Disappointed, it was time for something completely different.
I went back to the crumpling exercise, using baking paper.

Sample p1-35.

Sample p1-35.


Can I record that in plastic?
Sample p1-35.

Sample p1-35.


Not that way. The hot filament just skidded across the paper, not taking on any of the distortion.

Sidetrack Sample p1-36. Could I support the filament better? I filled a tray with damp sand and pressed the paper shape into it.

Sample p1-36.

Sample p1-36.


Sample p1-36.

Sample p1-36.


The hot filament still came out too quickly, even at the slowest setting, and didn’t settle into the shapes in the sand.
Sample p1-36.

Sample p1-36.


It was a plastic shape, but didn’t tell the story of the paper.

Sidetrack Sample p1-37. Another attempt in the sand tray. I tried to build up a base grid of contour lines, which later lines could attach to and stay in place.

Sample p1-37.

Sample p1-37.


Very approximate.
Sample p1-37.

Sample p1-37.


Not what I was looking for.

Total sidetrack. I needed to build skill with the 3D pen.
fuse_plastic_40
Lots of “not what I was looking for”.
Youtube had the answer. I had been extruding the hot filament constantly. It was going all over the place while still pliable and not holding shapes as I wanted. On the videos people just paused the stream briefly while a short section of filament cooled. A little more, then pause. and again. A lot more control.
I made myself a name plate.
fuse_plastic_41
All of this was build 3D, not flat and assembled. It was either attached to the worksurface or I was holding the work in my hand. I only worked on the flat when putting the letters together.
fuse_plastic_48
fuse_plastic_42
Not a thing of beauty, not well controlled – but with at least some control, and Proper (in my mind) 3D.

Sidetrack Sample p1-38. Back to crumpled paper.

Sample p1-38.

Sample p1-38.


Sample p1-38.

Sample p1-38.


The lines follow the contours of the paper. I am ridiculously pleased.
Sample p1-38.

Sample p1-38.


Sample p1-38.

Sample p1-38.


Sample p1-38.

Sample p1-38.


It’s wobbly and a bit frail, but it was what I was looking for.
Why am I so pleased?
Because I didn’t find it easy but I got there.
Because it’s a fairly accurate record. It goes back to my attraction to traces, memories, shadows.
Because I see it as a new form of sketchbook work (and I need to do more of that). I felt just as conscious and observant and absorbed by the shape as I would be if sketching on paper. I learnt more about the shape, examining it closely as I moved the pen around.
I like the thing itself. There’s a squiggly, lacey, delicate air about it. It almost looks beaded. The shape is interesting and the shadows cast add complexity.

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

T1-MMT-P1-p3-e1 Initial exploration of fusing plastic

I started my exploration in fusing plastic in a well-ventilated (ie drafty) garage with iron, printing / ironing surface, baking paper, carrier bags, scissors and tongs – ready to make waste into sew-able plastic.
plastic_iron_01

Sample p1-21a. 6 layers, assorted bags, ironed both sides around 15 seconds.

Sample p1-21a.

Sample p1-21a.

Some distortion and – not quite bubbling, more not fusing flatly. Note to self – in future check dimensions and record shrinkage.
I had chosen a range of colours and patterns in the layers, and get good show-through both on a surface and back-lit.

Sample p1-21a.

Sample p1-21a.

Sample p1-21b. I tried to tear it. A little distortion at the edge where only 1 or 2 layers, but unable to tear (unlike a single layer that stretched and tore easily.) Very easy to cut. Some minor separation at edges where there were bubbles trapped.

Sample p1-21b.

Sample p1-21b.

Sample p1-21c. Tried creasing by hand. It didn’t hold, but some amalgamation of bubbles trapped.

Sample p1-21c.

Sample p1-21c.

Sample p1-21d. Tried creasing using iron. Was careful to limit time so fold didn’t fuse down. Got sharp crease, no additional fusing.

Sample p1-21d.

Sample p1-21d.

Sample p1-21e. Tried to fold and fuse down. Took 2 to 3 times longer than original fusing. Some loss / abrasion of colour. Surface is flatter – fewer or no air bubbles.

Sample p1-21e.

Sample p1-21e.

Sample p1-22. I started a new stack – wanted to avoid air bubbles so tried to iron a single layer briefly, with the idea of starting with totally flat sheets (with little air trapped when starting to fuse). I ironed a little longer. It didn’t really help – the single layer distorted.

Sample p1-22.

Sample p1-22.

Gave up that idea.
Sample p1-23a. Tried a new 6 layer stack, roughly 15.6 cmx 22cm.
Heated 2-3 times longer (twice each side), pressing down firmly.
End size was around 14.5cm x 21cm, so shrinkage of around 1 cm each way.
I still had bubbles. Material felt smoother to touch. I still got some delamination at edges when cutting (I picked at this to make it clearer).

Sample p1-23a.

Sample p1-23a.

Next I moved indoors to try sewing my new materials.

Sample p1-23b. First hand-sewing, using 20/2 silk and a thick novelty yarn.

Sample p1-23b.

Sample p1-23b.


Sample p1-23b.

Sample p1-23b.


The silk (towards the bottom) behaved nicely, with no fraying or sticking as it went through the material. The photo hasn’t picked it up, but the sheen and texture look quite good on the plastic – different, but not too foreign (full disclosure – this is about my favourite yarn, so I would say that).
I gathered a section at the right. It didn’t gather smoothly, and there was considerable delamination of the top layer of plastic (arrow at right of photo).

The novelty thread was harder to pull through. I tried pre-piercing with an awl, but it wasn’t thick enough to make a difference. The only real issue is arrowed on the left – an attempt at a french knot pulled through the material.

Sample p1-21f. Next I tried the sewing machine.

Sample p1-21f.

Sample p1-21f.


The machine had no trouble feeding the plastic material through. I started with long stitches, then moved to shorter. The plastic shows no signs of tearing where it is pierced. Zig-zag and novelty stitches also worked without problems.

On the right can be seen an area of free-machine stitching with the feed-dogs down. It was very easy to move the plastic around under the needle. The stiffness / body of the plastic helped it glide smoothly.

Sample p1-21g. Next were some quick experiments using the 3D printer pen.

Sample p1-21g.

Sample p1-21g.


The filament adhered quite well to the layered plastic and I was able to build up a doodle. If I pulled away too soon without breaking the filament cleanly it would pull at the base and tear the plastic (which was still soft).

Sample p1-21h. I tried a shape flat on the plastic base. It didn’t adhere, although marks can still be seen where the base was slightly melted.

Sample p1-21h.

Sample p1-21h.


It seemed that if I moved too slowly the filament built up and pushed away from the surface, causing a poor connection.

Sample p1-21i. I tried to shape the plastic material by drawing a line of filament on it, then bending the pliable area until it cooled.

Sample p1-21i.

Sample p1-21i.


I got partial adhesion, seen in the photograph, but since then more of the plastic has pulled away from the filament. I suspect the material was too heavy for a single line of filament to hold.

Sample p1-21j. Perhaps a line around the outside of a small shape would hold.

Sample p1-21j.

Sample p1-21j.


No.

Sample p1-21k. Perhaps a longer line up the middle of the shape.

Sample p1-21k.

Sample p1-21k.


No. Although I like the wiggly lines being created.

Sample p1-24. I tried the same shaping on a single layer of carrier bag plastic, thinking it would be light and flexible enough to be held by the filament.

Sample p1-24.

Sample p1-24.


The bag tended to melt and it didn’t hold.

Despite the lack of success I am still convinced that the 3D pen in combination with the plastic material has potential for shaping and distorting the surface. I just have to find the right mix of materials and technique.

I also find the plastic fusing much more interesting than I expected. It becomes quite a different material when fused in layers. The next step is to use a range of plastics to create different textures and surfaces, and to capture materials between the layers.

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

T1-MMT Fantastic Plastic

Fantastic Plastic: product design + consumer culture by Susan Mossman is one of the course textbooks. It gives a broad overview of the manufacture and use of plastics, from natural plastics used for many centuries (for example shellac and rubber), through semi-synthetic plastics (vulcanite – rubber hardened using sulphur), and the ongoing explosion of invention of new plastics and new uses.

computer wire, neoprene, whipper snipper

computer wire, neoprene, whipper snipper

neoprene and fishing line

neoprene and fishing line

Apart from novelty experiments I’ve generally avoided plastics in my textile work (the examples on the right are from A Creative Approach 21-October-2012 and after a basket weaving workshop 15-August-2013). I’ve an underlying prejudice that plastics are cheap, nasty, don’t last (stretch or go brittle), pollute – and just aren’t in the competition with silk and wool and linen…

Mossman’s book addresses the cheap and short-lived labels – it’s a matter of selecting the right plastic for the task. Trickier given the same material can be given multiple names and take multiple forms.

As part of learning and challenging myself, I recently went to a 3D printing workshop with tutor Mat Danic (see 15-March-2015). Last week I went to Makers Place to pick up my 3D object printed following the class.

Makers Place Photo:  Chris Bamborough

Makers Place
Photo: Chris Bamborough

Makers Place in Leichardt (Sydney) is very exciting. It’s not for profit, volunteer run, and focused on creating, collaborating and innovating. It provides a space, lots of equipment, opportunities to learn, teach, experiment, share – and it’s up to members where they take it.

Makers Place Photo: Chris Bamborough

Makers Place
Photo: Chris Bamborough

There are multiple 3D printers, woodwork tools, overlocker, paper-making stuff, robotics discussions, interesting materials that were waste products from local businesses… There are plans for purchasing a CNC router and laser cutter. They have more plans for desktop plastic recycling – see their blog here, and especially watch the video or follow the link to Precious Plastic. I so much want to play with a recycled plastic extrusion machine.

shell_gridThis is a design schematic I sent to Mat, with the explanation “The central diamond (based on a drawing of a shell) would be solid plastic, no holes. It is relatively thin and embossed with the shell image so light shines through – like what lithophane produces, I think.
In the corner triangles the green represents holes. I’m hoping to be able to felt through these. When I finish the embossed centre shell should be like a stained glass window, with the solid felt surrounding it like a wall.” It was meant to be a test for connection of felt to plastic.
My own suggested designs based on past college work were too complex for starter work so Mat found a freely shared file for me. He also printed the grid pieces separately, concerned about size and breakage in transit.
(Apologies for changes in tense below – it’s copied from my “live” Evernotes)
3dplastic_01

Mat made the comment that laser cutting might be more suitable for a design like this in the future. I’m really not taking advantage of the 3D. True. Darn.
The first step is to connect the pieces.- a little daunting, as some areas appear quite fragile.
3dplastic_02
Acetone is meant to “glue” the plastic together, so I started with that, testing on two short lengths of filament. It doesn’t feel entirely solid, and keeping a good connection as it “sets” could be awkward. Mat suggested soaking in acetone (I just wiped each side a few times using a cottonbud), but that sounded messy and smelly. He also suggested super glue, but I had a different thing in mind – “gluing” using my new 3 D pen.
3dplastic_03
On the left above a join using acetone. On the right using the pen.
Messy!
I was going to play with the pen later, but will change order.
3dplastic_04
I’m not sure what it is, but it’s definitely 3D, coming up almost 10 cm from the base.
A look at the pen itself.
3dplastic_05
It’s a Myriwell 3D printing pen, purchased from Mat. The pen is light (plastic of course). It plugs into mains power. A plastic filament feeds through – grey here, but in many other colours (red, black,…). There are buttons to move the filament forward and back, a slide speed control, plus indicator lights for power and heat.
3D doodling:
3dplastic_06
I decided to acetone “glue” my pieces together, and weld / solder using the pen where necessary – but I couldn’t get the acetone to work at all. Perhaps because it wasn’t pure acetone, or wiping not soaking, or more likely I think I wasn’t making a firm connection as it dried. The pieces didn’t fit flatly together. So back to “soldering” with the pen, using a blu tack jig to hold pieces in place.
3dplastic_07
It’s all a bit messy, but holding together solidly enough for the next step (I hope!).
I choose to invoke my artistic license and deem the “mess” the foam of the waves washing on to a shelly beach.
3dplastic_08
Here’s the lovely translucence, which I want to surround with denser felt.
3dplastic_09
I pulled out some greeny-blue colours of wool top that I’d dyed and carded years ago. I added in some bits of silk hanky and silk waste – for texture and shine, and particularly some white to echo that “wave foam”.
3dplastic_10
Concerned about shrinkage and putting stress on the plastic, I decided to make a sheet of thin prefelt.
Wool and silk laid out -around 55 x 6O cm. It’s a long time since I’ve done much felting and I started to feel a bit nervous and tentative – but tried to lighten up. This is just an experiment, after all.
3dplastic_11
For small, light, indoors feltmaking I like to use olive oil soap and not much water. I could keep all the work on my cutting mat and not have to clear the whole table.
The plan
feltplan
Prefelt cut into 8 strips. A little loose wool place on the grid areas of the plastic. Four strips of prefelt (shown in faint acqua on the diagram) laid around the medallion, underneath the grid.
3dplastic_12
Four strips of prefelt (shown in dark blue on the diagram) laid around the medallion, on top of the grid.
3dplastic_13
Then lots and lots of gentle rubbing and trying to persuade the wool to form around the central shape without going on to it, to mesh through the grid, not to shrink in a way that distorted the plastic…
I stopped when the plastic started creaking.
After drying overnight, superficially it looks OK.
3dplastic_16
The important back-lit shot.
3dplastic_17
and since I think the colours work well, a half-way view – still a little extra light coming through.
3dplastic_18
However there are fundamental problems.
3dplastic_15
The felt is not fitting well around the centre, and while some fibres migrated through the grids it wasn’t sufficient to hold.
The plastic is definitely not happy. There is some slight distortion of the thin centre and the rest – I’ve already mentioned the creaking. It’s definitely under stress.
There’s a lot of plastic wasted between the layers of felt. It also causes distortion in the surface.
As already mentioned, it’s not a good exploitation of 3D. I actually started thinking of curved and embossed planes, possible working as a lamp shade, but went flat to keep the experiment simple.
The whole idea of shrinking felt around rigid plastic is flawed. It would be more interesting in a softer plastic that distorted.
Basically, the outcome may have potential but I chose the wrong technique. It would be better to make a finished piece of felt, cut a hole, and play with attachment systems.

Turquoise Bay

Turquoise Bay

On the plus side, I like my colour choices. I was thinking of Turquoise Bay in WA which I visited last year (26-August-2014). It works for me.
I also like the combination of plastic and felt – including the “foam” at the boundary.
I can see ways of taking this forward, and for now I’m going to ignore them. It’s time to get back to college exercises.

Reference
Mossman, S. (2008) Fantastic Plastic: product design + consumer culture London: Black Dog Publishing

T1-MMT-P1-p1 Folding and crumpling roundup

Part of managing my time on this course is moving on when I don’t feel finished.  So here are brief notes wrapping up, at least for now – there’s always the hope of more time later.

Grace Tan http://www.kwodrent.com/index.php is an artist suggested in the course notes. It’s easy to see why in her earlier work – piles of folded paper in Utterubbish (2007), folding and pleating leading into manipulation of strips in specimens (2008 – Commissioned for 8Q-Rate: School). Works evolve, method progresses through samples, reduction of complexity — simplicity. There is a fabulous snake of pleats flowing around a dress-form at http://www.kwodrent.com/index.php/site/projects/1 – “non-wearable textile composition based on arithmetic and number pattern.” Her more recent work is mainly installations  and architectural. An example is Building as a Body (2012) http://www.kwodrent.com/index.php/site/projects/61 where a veil of strips of material (? a plastic) reveals and conceals the facade of a building.

I didn’t see a connection to pleating and accordion folds in those strips until seeing something quite different – the new Barak building in Melbourne- see for example http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/william-barak-apartment-tower-portrait-revealed-20150303-13t31e.html. There is a lot to be uncomfortable about in the depiction of an Aboriginal elder’s face on an appartment block built on appropriated lands. For my current discussion, the point is the use of shadow lines with building (balcony) lines to form an image. In a similar way Tan’s strips work with shadows to create “pleats”. There is less weight, manipulation of the “surface” is more flexible, air and sight can move through – but it is still a development of the folding experimentation. (Note: great example of development process to consider in my own work).

Caroline Broadhead presents crumpled clothing – or at least crumpled shapes that suggest the form of the body and could be used as clothing. She is exploring space and boundaries, creating atmospheric works that tug our emotions.
See http://onviewonline.craftscouncil.org.uk/4040/object/T137
http://www.arts.ac.uk/csm/people/teaching-staff/textiles-and-jewellery/caroline-broadhead/
http://www.themaking.org.uk/content/makers/2009/11/caroline_broadhead.html

Christine Mauersberger, in particular Timelines (2014). Sewn strips of Rubylith form a distorted surface. This is process-based work, developed from mark-making in her sketchbook. “The drawings and stitched work developed an interdependent relationship where one informed the other. This activity placed me on a trajectory of purposeful artwork.” “The way I connected to discovering my voice was to be vulnerable to taking a risk. ” (from http://www.worldofthreadsfestival.com/artist_interviews/128-christine-mauersberger-14.html (Accessed 5-Mar-2015)). Another great example of working process and approach, useful to consider for myself.

Artists on http://www.le-crimp.org/
– Vincent Floderer http://www.le-crimp.org/spip.php?page=visionneuse&id_article=2&id_document=212 and much more. Radial pleating/crumpling taken to an extreme. Great use of colour and lighting.
– Romain Chevrier http://www.le-crimp.org/spip.php?page=visionneuse&id_article=13&id_document=255 – some strange animal’s trail through the sand
– Alain Giacomini http://www.le-crimp.org/spip.php?page=visionneuse&id_article=25&id_document=382 Swooping bird-like forms or graceful flying fish. Again the drama of lighting.

Jade Pegler http://folio.jadepegler.com/projects/books-and-sculptures/ A wide variety of paper work, including examples incorporating pleating.

20150101aMy Indigo Sketchbook post (9-January-2015) includes work done before starting this course, but certainly under its influence and using one of the recommended texts – “Folding Architecture: Spatial, Structural and Organizational Diagrams” by Sophia Vyzoviti.

20150101eI was particularly interested in the memory of folds, the traces left behind. It’s a bit like stains on worn clothing, or tracks on sand that get swallowed up in the next tide – a memory, a ghost. Perhaps nostalgia for a lost opportunity. It seems there can be so much more emotion in fragile reminders – linking back to Caroline Broadhead’s work.

A little bit of pleating work I wanted to take further:
Claire (https://tactualtextiles.wordpress.com/) lent me a pleating device.
pleat_01
I decided to play using layers of tissue paper.
Sample p1-19. Pleats are formed by pressing material into a grove with a plastic card. Two cards leapfrog each other, forming a pleat then holding it in place while the next pleat is formed. I found the light tissue pleats kept popping out. Luckily my party picks are just the right size to hold things in place.
pleat_02
… which inevitably led to the problem of fixing and removing the pleats.
pleat_03
I used a sticky paper tape
pleat_04
Sample p1-19a. Soft folds formed.
pleat_05
Sample p1-19b. which I creased in a pattern.
pleat_06
Sample p1-20. Wanted to use the fixing tape as an advantage. Chose two colours of tissue paper, hoping for interaction.
pleat_07
The first layer of tissue. I like the pattern of the sticks holding the pleats, plus the totally accidental match of tissue length to pleater.
pleat_08
Double-sided sticky tape down the centre, and I pressed the pleats in place.
pleat_09
Sample p1-20a. Then purple, fixed using the other side of the tape. I flattened the purple – should try leaving it rounded another day.
It’s like inside-out corrugated cardboard.
pleat_10
Finally, I played with different arrangements.

Sample p1-20b.

Sample p1-20b.


Sample p1-20c.

Sample p1-20c.


Sample p1-20d.

Sample p1-20d.


Sample p1-20e.

Sample p1-20e.


Sample p1-20f.

Sample p1-20f.


Sample p1-20g.

Sample p1-20g.


Sample p1-20h.

Sample p1-20h.


There could be lots of ways to explore this further – different colours, different pleat spacing (you don’t have to use every slot) or even on flat paper, more layers of pleating, longer lengths…
Note also possibilities of popcorn fabric.
Finally my recent natural dye day (hosted and masterminded by Claire) involved lots of accordion pleating – see 4-April-2015 for more. This leads back to the idea of traces and shadows left, rather than the original.
Clamped

Clamped


Result

Result

T1-MMT-P1-p1 Folding and crumpling roundup
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 1: Surface Distortion
Project 1: Folding and crumpling

Natural dye day

I spent yesterday learning natural dyeing with friend and fellow OCA student Claire (her blog). Claire has done a lot with natural dyes in the past. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid them.

Briefly, I’ve felt my synthetic dyes give great results and a lot of control and reliability – in colour mixing and fastness (wash fast, rub fast, light fast…). “Natural” dyes are a gamble every time. I don’t accept all of the hype of “natural” – what mordants are used, how is the waste disposed of, how long did that lichen used take to grow on the rock…? I live in a city – is my impact on our environment significantly less if I change the dyes I occasionally use? Still, even if “natural” isn’t better in the misty-eyed holier-than-thou way espoused by some, it can certainly give some beautiful results.

It was a great day.

natural_dye_01We start with a pile of fresh plant material. Banksias and gum trees around our homes received a minor pruning, less than a moderate breeze would bring down. A few weeds were pulled out by the roots. In one pot we put bruised eucalpytus leaves, in the other banksia. Steep in water for a while, bring to the boil, add selected mordant. Claire put iron sulphate (darkens) with the gum leaves and copper sulphate (brightens) with the banksia.

We used a mix of fabrics and papers, preparing them with ties, clamps and leaf inserts. Fabrics were in the pot for around two hours, paper we aimed at one (but got a bit distracted). We unwrapped and rinsed the fabrics straight away, the paper we unfolded and laid them flat as best we could. I put my fabrics through a gentle machine wash, hung to dry overnight, then ironed some.

1. Silk habotai, around 8 mm. Wrapped around pvc pipe (no overlapping), tied with string and pushed down. No plant matter included. In eucalyptus and iron pot.


The colouring has a very attractive smokey effect. I like the simplicity – monochromatic, variations on a line. I haven’t ironed it (yet?) – just enjoying the texture at the moment. I was thinking of the surface distortion projects while preparing it – especially accordion pleats and linear crumpling (yet to be posted).
A good reminder that less is (can be!) more.

2. Silk chiffon- folded in half, plant material on, sides folded in, accordion fold, tied between perspex squares. In eucalyptus and iron pot.


Virtually all the patterning is from the clamping and tying. In the detail there is a shadow of green – possibly it will discolour or fade over time. The tie lines are particularly effective, but best of all is when the fabric is moving and drifting – smoke and clouds.

3. Tussah silk. Banksia leaves were placed in a zig-zag down the centre half of the fabric. The sides were folded in, creating two layers of fabric overall. I wanted to fold in half again to create four folds, which proved extremely difficult. The leaves kept shifting. The end placement wasn’t as formal as I intended. Then accordion fold, between perspex, and clamped. In eucalyptus and iron pot.


The dark lines of framing are clearer on one side, the imprint of the leaves on the other. I really like the range of colour and texture in the leaf imprints. The tussah silk has a rougher texture but still some shine, which works well with this natural look. This is lovely to hold and fold. A lot of variety and interest.

natural_dye_164. Testing swatch – banksia leaves and copper sulphate pot. I was quite slow preparing my earlier pieces of fabric, and only did some quick knotting of a random swatch of silk for the second pot.
It’s pictured here with sample 1. A much softer colour. I think much less colour was leached out of the harder leaves, and of course the mordant is different.

5. Paper. I used 200 gsm canson watercolour paper, torn in half, then folded in half, and interleaved with baking paper, with plant material between every layer. We painted egg on the leaves, with the idea that this would enhance the colour transfer (this is sometimes done for cotton or cellulose fabrics, not protein-based like wool and silk). Claire and I helped each other clamp the lumpy, unwieldy piles.


A few lessons learned.
* Perspex is a bad choice in boiling pots. There was some distortion in the fabric parcels, but on the paper, being so uneven in level, was extreme.
* Generally Claire leaves paper in the pot around one hour, as it gets too soft. We got distracted, talking and looking at things in her studio, and left it much longer.
* Egg protein may help dyeing cloth, but it acts like glue on paper.

Unfolding the paper and removing the leaves was a challenge, but the results were often lovely. A great range of marks and a surprising range of colours. At the moment I’m thinking of binding the watercolour pages into a little book and using the baking pages in collage. I know Claire has done some more dyeing today, and I’m looking forward to seeing her finished results and what she does next.


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