“Sessions” of work have fallen apart, mostly because my next sample needed extended drying time between stages.
Sample p2-4 Joining by encasing
This sample is inspired by Eva Hesse’s work Contingent (1969), discussed in my last post (7-Jun-2015). I was attracted by the idea of joining two materials by encasing them, and of using a modern material to do the encasing. I don’t think this is quite what’s happening in Contingent. From the National Gallery of Australia website: “Each of these elements consists of a large rectangular stretch of latex-covered cheesecloth embedded at each end in a translucent field of fibreglass.” (http://nga.gov.au/international/catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=49353 ). In any case, a source inspiration is a starting point, not the end.
I decided to join three pieces of paper, white pieces at either end of a brown piece, the visual layout of Contingent. The straight edges would be joined flush, held in place by being encased in an acrylic heavy structure gel.
Through this exercise, thinking a bit more techniques and types rather than starting with a particular material, I find myself including aesthetic decisions. I auditioned a number of materials that remind me at some level of the Eva Hesse work.
For the brown centre: a light paper with lots of texture and holes; a paper bag; baking paper that was used in natural dyeing (4-Apr-2015).
For the white ends: mulberry bark; a soft almost felted-feeling paper with a regular grid of holes; a paper towel.
I chose the paper bag and the gridded white paper. The mulberry bark was better texturally, but wouldn’t provide the straight edge needed. I wanted more texture in the centre, so crumpled the paper bag a few times. It feels nice to have a link back to a previous exercise.
The materials don’t look like they belong together. Will acrylic medium help them join either physically or visually?
Heavy structure gel was applied directly from the tub to the papers with a palette knife. I’ve found in some sketchbook work in the past that this can give some nice surface texture (2-Jan-2015). Looking back while writing this post I think that experience might have subconsciously influenced my choices in this sample.
I didn’t dilute or colour the gel, and didn’t use supporting material to strengthen the whole (unlike that earlier “sketch”). I wanted to see how the idea worked “raw”.
After almost a day there were still white areas, suggesting the medium was not completely dry. However trapped with glass on one side and a skin of dry medium on the other, this could take a long time. I decided to attempt to detatch it.
I had put the work on a piece of glass while applying the gel. As hoped, it was fairly easy to scrape around the edges and then lift up the papers as a single piece.
The flush join held – I was careful not to pull or twist or distort it at all.
After leaving it loose for an hour to allow extra drying, I put the work on cleaned glass, and covered the second side in gel. No photo of that – it looked like the first time.
Another day later, it was looking fairly dry and only the slightest hint of tackiness.
It was very easy to scrape off. After a few more hours of drying it felt very stable, non-tacky, and just a few of the thicker areas a little white.
The finished sample:
The sampled joining method of embedding has worked very well. After another few hours of drying some gentle stretching did not disturb the joins at all. I found my old sketchbook sample and it has lost any residual tackiness and that slight cloudiness. Actually I’m a little disappointed to find I am almost repeating previous work – but the earlier version had a lot of overlap and gluing (mod podge), with a backing page and in the leaf elements, and the medium was thinner.
The join produced in sample p2-4 is almost entirely flush, there is no reinforcing, and the end result is thicker and feels more substantial.
I find the backlit view lovely. The two papers contrast but there is a harmony to the whole. In life the texture effect helps blend the front lit version, but this is less apparent in the photograph.
The whole is more rigid and constrained than the organic appearance of the inspiration source. The rectangular shapes of the papers, chosen for the exercise task, and the grid of holes result in a very different effect.
Sample p2-5 Materials mixup
For my final sample I wanted to challenge myself on materials. With no particular purpose or result in mind, I wanted to join balsa wood to metal using plastic.
Direct from my notes:
The wood is 1mm thick balsa. The metal is a cut down beercan, which I assume is aluminium – certainly thinner than the wood. It’s been sitting waiting in my stash since a Shimmering surfaces class tutored by fellow OCA student Claire back in 2009. The joining mechnaism is plastic using the 3D pen.
The metal has been darkened in a heat treatment. I decide to start with some sanding, to brighten things up and hoping to find some green. The result is messy. Moving on.
I’ll start with a weld-like effect. Although the brief is a flush join, I’ll leave a tiny gap.
Some attachment to the wood, but nothing on the metal. I need a temporary hold as I work.
Not so good. I can’t keep it on the surface.
Next idea – I trace a bead of plastic in a straight line on paper. Then I tape the wood and metal down on either side.
First side – no adhesion except to the plastic and all very messy -but I like an energetic line.
I managed to detach it from the paper and turn over without falling apart! Unexpected. It’s amusing that the pen line I traced is visible on the plastic.
The second line is done.
Sticky tape removed and ends encased. With light handling it is holding – and I am in shock. This “welding” approach was not expected to work at all.
Expectations met. With a little wriggling the metal popped out of the slot of plastic that had formed around it.
It took some determined prying, but I was able to detach the wood too.
On to plan b.
Holes have been punched, materials held temporarily by sticky tape on paper.
Holes filled and connected across on one side. There is no adhesion to the metal and little to the wood at this point.
Turned over, everything has stayed in place – for now.
Joined on both sides.
It actually seems somewhat firm. I’ve pulled and shaken and twisted, plus tried to snap at one of the joins. Not with extreme force, but some force. In terms of join methods, this is really the same as sample p2-3e. It’s just interpreted in very different materials and arrived at from a different direction.
The different materials do exhibit different properties.
I was able to cut off part of the metal without breaking the bond. Then I tried forming soft accordion pleats, using the metal to hold them in place and force shaping in the wood. The wood gave way while all the plastic joins are intact.
I like the unusual mix of materials in this sample. There is a warmth to the wood that contrasts with the hard, shiny metal. It’s fascinating to see the strength of the metal shaping and holding the wood. The green plastic comes from no-where and adds a quirky note and another texture.
I tried to capture the effect using a variety of media in my end-of-session sketch.
The wood is depicted in inktense pencils. I thought the soft watercolour effect would suit.
The plastic is in felt tip pen, with the idea of the colour showing up harsh and aggressive.
I started with colour pencils on the metal, then rubbed in metallic waxes and pigments, trying to get some hard, metallic sheen. It shows up a little in person, depending on the angle of lighting.
I got a bit lost with the folds and lines of reflection, so finished with an uplifting squiggle in felt tip pens, referring back to some of the welding attempts.
T1-MMT-P2-p1-e1 Joining straight flush edges – post 3
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 2: Joining and wrapping
Project 1: Joining
Exercise 1: Joining straight flush edges