Archive for September, 2015

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Weekend sketchbook

Increasing, improving and extending my sketchbook work has been one of my focus points for this assignment. This had a big boost on the weekend when my friend and fellow OCA student Claire came over for a day of mark making. You can see Claire’s work and read her account of the day at https://tactualtextiles.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/mark-making-with-paints-and-tools/.

The plan was to go big and go wild. We both started with some paper Claire had found at http://reversegarbage.org.au/. The printing on one side and coated (waterproofed?) reverse suggested it was roll ends from jiffy bags or similar. We worked on the blank but coated side which gave some interesting interactions especially when I attempted a watercolour wash which turned into a watercolour speckle.

sketch_20150926a

sketch_20150926a

sketch_20150926a detail

sketch_20150926a detail

More often than not I work on A3 paper. This piece is 102 x 76cm – more than 6 times the surface area. It felt so freeing, making big sweeps with the shoulder. It’s mostly acrylic paint, but also water colour and printing inks. I remember palette knife sweeps, fruit net bag rolling and stamping, scraping with a serrated knife, dabbing with paper towel, pouring watercolour, a jittery-bump movement like going over corrugated dirt road… It was an exciting ride.

Next up was 100 gsm cartridge paper. White cartridge paper is my go-to base, but not at this size – 84 x 72 cm.

sketch_20150926b

sketch_20150926b

Claire and I were swapping paints, tools and ideas, and it was amazing to see our work side by side and how different the results were. I have a definite tendency to chaos and mess! This has acrylic paint and screen printing inks plus some red oxide (from the hardware store for colouring concrete, but didn’t make it into a plaster sample). There was printing from a bracken leaf (conveniently grows at the garage door), various sizes of bubble wrap, paper towel, cork, sewing reel, peg bag side, drainer “thing”, jar tops – anything circular within reach. Also some lovely circular swirls using Claire’s new patent-pending technique involving a pipecleaner and considerable dexterity.

The final piece for the day arose from frugal determination to waste not a smear of paint.

sketch_20150926c

sketch_20150926c

My favourite corrugated cardboard, tiny at 48 x 27 cm.

Obviously none of the above are resolved works. They are the physical leavings of a fun and freeing process. I think there’s also a huge amount of detail that could be explored with L-shape frame finders. Lots of texture, lots of movement, lots of ideas, lots of space.

The next day I continued, this time responding to some casting samples. First sample p3-51, plaster and resin in a juice jug.

sketch_20150927a

sketch_20150927a

83 x 64 cm white cartridge paper. Water-resistant crayon and watercolour wash.

Cramming (too?) many ideas into one sketch this is a blind, continuous line drawing, overlaid in two or three layers. I then tried to make sense of all the lines with a “clarifying” wash of black watercolour. Lots of energy in the lines and I felt I had good focus and observation of the sample. The result isn’t informative as a picture but I’m pleased with the sense of pushing myself.

sketch_20150927b

sketch_20150927b

The drawing part is 66 x 64 cm white cartridge paper, not filling the page particularly well, once again based on sample p3-51.

This uses charcoal for the plaster areas and grey oil pastel for the resin. There’s something very odd going on with the proportions, especially in the centre. My main focus was the lines and planes formed by the jug, and I think the curves of the handle went well. The big spike of resin contrasts effectively with the smooth mass of plaster. Once again I was happy with my maintenance of concentration and keeping my eyes at least as much on the sample as the page. I think this shows good progress for me, although I actually prefer the first version – so much more lively and expressive.

Next some work with sample p3-47, the cast of ribbed knitting. I actually started this a couple of days earlier, using the 3D pen and “drawing” in plastic filament.

sketch_20150925a

sketch_20150925a

The photograph above shows both sides of the drawing, which is roughly 13 x 5 cm.

Lots of energy, and it was good to work in a palette of mainly neutrals which is a change for me. This is based on just one small section of the repeated pattern. Given the knit is so regular I wanted to understand the structure more.

sketch_20150925b

sketch_20150925b

The base is 54 x 33 cm, brown paper that I crumpled and painted with gesso a few weeks back.

I started lower right using conte crayons. The not particularly complicated pattern was eluding me and the drawing was clumsy, so I stopped and concentrated on a simple graphic map. Seen on the left, this is a different kind of clumsy but at least the pattern repeat emerges.

Top right I changed to two pastel pencils held together to make a very loose and simplified interpretation of some of the patterning. This is the most successful section of this page.

Moving forward in time, I returned to sample p3-47, this time using tissue paper as the base.

sketch_20150927c

sketch_20150927c

A direct rubbing of the sample using a large wax crayon. Little pattern emerges.
sketch_20150927d

sketch_20150927d

Another direct rubbing, using oil pastel. Some of the pattern can be identified, especially the original woven band area, but the knit section is still indistinct. It’s amazing that something so clear on the cast is so lost when only the top layer of the surface is recorded.

I decided to move to ink on the tissue.

sketch_20150927e

sketch_20150927e

Above is a messy trial of tools – corrugated cardboard, the end of a clothes peg, the side of some styrofoam packaging and a bamboo pen.

sketch_20150927f

sketch_20150927f

A more considered stylised version. I like the curves of cardboard very much. The herringbone columns were drawn with the bamboo pen and have a pleasing variability. The simple uprights used the corner of the styrofoam, giving the broken effect I was looking for. I think there are some useful ideas in this.

Liking the marks, I tried combining them in different ways.

sketch_20150927g

sketch_20150927g

All three of the marks are included here. The combination is balanced, but there is movement across the sheet with the waves of corrugated cardboard.

sketch_20150927h

sketch_20150927h

A less interesting version using cardboard and styrofoam.

My original intention using tissue paper was to layer pieces up in interesting combinations. Unfortunately none of the combinations interested me. Wanting to take them forward somehow, I finished by experimenting with the photo of sketch_20150927g, using a series of distortion filters in gimp.

sketch_20150927g emboss

sketch_20150927g emboss

sketch_20150927g weave

sketch_20150927g weave

sketch_20150927g polar coord

sketch_20150927g polar coord

sketch_20150927g ripple

sketch_20150927g ripple

sketch_20150927g iwarp

sketch_20150927g iwarp

sketch_20150927g illusion

sketch_20150927g illusion

sketch_20150927g fractal

sketch_20150927g fractal


Some of the above look quite textile-y in nature, and it was good to explore some corners of the software.

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Weekend sketchbook
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Project 2: Casting the internal space of a vessel
Weekend sketchbook

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Casting with plaster

Coming towards the end of Casting I felt I’d done some interesting exploration in new-to-me materials and some of the samples showed promise for future development. However I hadn’t followed up any of the ideas or inspiration from my research at the beginning of the assignment. I wanted to work at a slightly larger scale, and I also wanted to go a little further with the sense of substance and formality that I found in my initial plaster samples (p3-35 and p3-36, 14-September-2015).

Sample p3-47
The first sample attempted was inspired by the work of Rebecca Fairley (my tutor, my research posted 16-August-2015), in particular the texture and wisps of fibre that attracted me so much.

Sample p3-47

Sample p3-47

Sample p3-47 preparation

Sample p3-47 preparation

Sample p3-47 detail - wisps?

Sample p3-47 detail – wisps?

Some machine-knit fabric from a cardigan (op-shop find) was used to line a plastic tub. Plaster was poured directly onto the knit. There was almost no penetration of the plaster through the knit. It was easy to pull the fabric away with only minor damage to the plaster surface.

The resulting cast is around 14.5 cm square and 2.5 cm high. The photograph above was taken in raking light to emphasise the texture created. The cardigan had a high waist formed with heavy woven ribbon, which created the band seen in the cast.

This sample is very attractive. There is a variety of texture contained in a not quite rigid framework of lines. At a distance there is a strong overall structure, with a lot of interest and detail revealed with closer examination. There is an overall blueish colouring to the plaster due to capture of fibres from the dark navy knit, but you have to look very carefully indeed to see the individual fibres. This sample suggests a lot of potential, my only concern being that it is too directly derivative of the source inspiration.

Sample p3-48
I wanted to follow with a sample more personal to me, so I chose a woven cloth (commercial furnishing fabric – I couldn’t bring myself to use handwoven on an early sample). This sample also brought in the idea from the course notes of influencing the shape of the cast by placing the vessel on a found object.

Sample p3-48 detail

Sample p3-48 detail

Sample p3-48 preparation

Sample p3-48 preparation

Sample p3-48

Sample p3-48

The found object is a child’s toy, a plastic grid that expands into a sphere. I lined this with heavy plastic and then the woven fabric. I adjusted the manufacturer’s recommended water to plaster ratio, reducing the amount of water. I thought a less liquid mix would reduce leakage through the fabric.

When setting up the sample I hadn’t considered the issue of getting the solid plaster out of the sphere, but it was easy to disconnect some of the plastic struts. The fabric came away from the plaster easily. Possibly it had some kind of finish applied during manufacture. Certainly there was no apparent penetration of the material.

There is a delicate overall texture to the finished sample reflecting the plain weave fabric. This results in a very soft response to lighting, quite matte. Combined with the soft undulations from the open sphere vessel the cast looks just like a draped piece of cloth – in fact my partner mistook it for cloth when he first saw it. There is something so gentle and understated about this sample. It has greater mass than the others, being 20 cm wide at the largest point and rising up to 6 cm above the work surface (it’s not actually 6 cm thick, but the base is uneven).

I like the idea of exploiting the trompe l’oeil effect. Could a lace appearance be created? It might be difficult to control penetration by the plaster into an actual lacy (with holes) fabric, but perhaps there are embossed materials that would work, or the lace could be adhered to a backing fabric. Knitted fabrics with runs from dropped stitches could be amusing too – fragility in plaster.

Sample p3-49
This is the result of poor workmanship, not the sample intended.

Sample p3-49

Sample p3-49

Sample p3-49 detail

Sample p3-49 detail

At the beginning of the work session I had prepared for four samples. Unfamiliar with weights of plaster powder for volumes of casts my initial batch mixed was only enough for the first sample (p3-47). I doubled the amount of powder but reduced volume of water in the second batch, which turned out only enough for the second sample (p3-48). I tried to repeat for a third batch, but I couldn’t get a smooth paste. I kept mixing and it only got lumpier. Suddenly it was setting in the mixing bowl. Perhaps I could still use it to cast the grip of my hands (thinking of Alwar Balasubramaniam’s Nothing from my hands, see 13-June-2014). No, it was as if the plaster had curdled. It was crumbling in my hands.

Possible causes:
* I wasn’t following the manufacturer’s recommended ratios;
* I was mixing multiple batches using the same tools, scraping but not cleaning them;
* I was mixing too long. The supplier’s website faq warns that overmixing will cause the plaster to setup more quickly, often before you can pour it into molds.

At this point I took a break and did some clean up.

Sample p3-50

Sample p3-50 detail

Sample p3-50 detail

Sample p3-50

Sample p3-50

My original plan was to play with the visual difficulty with determining if shadow lines are from an indentation or a mound. I was going to use a bed of kinetic sand and make some indentations using a very nice sisal rope, then cover with thin plastic and pour in plaster. Basically an extension of the texturing of p3-40 and the visual challenge in the photo of p3-38. While making preparations I decided this was too close a repetition, and partial embedding of the rope might be more interesting.

I like the combination of materials very much. There seems to be a natural simplicity in them both which creates a link, while the textures contrast. The areas where the clean rope peeps through small windows in the plaster is most effective as the natures of the two materials are clearly evident. The areas of plaster which are textured by rope just beneath the surface I find less interesting.

Sample p3-51
This was planned as the final cast sample and I just threw ideas at it.
* alter the internal volume of a vessel by ties;
* embed resin in plaster, a reverse of embedding plaster in resin in sample p3-39;
* mold with a vessel used out of its normal orientation, to disguise the source;
* create a cast with a void.

I had no idea if this combination could work, which seemed a good reason to try.

Sample p3-51

Sample p3-51


 
Can you identify the vessel?
 

In the photos above the cast is supported in the front plate of an old speaker.

Sample p3-51 preparation

Sample p3-51 preparation

Sample p3-51 full view

Sample p3-51 full view

The vessel was a cut-down plastic 2 litre orange juice container. It was tied with light rope and supported mouth down in a tub. Shards of resin were placed inside, then plaster added.

The next morning I faced the puzzle of de-molding a cast with a void. It took an stubborn hour, but I was able to snip the plastic away in small pieces, spiraling down the handle.

I think this sample is very strong. The shape is complex with a series of flowing lines. There are areas of smooth, simple, solid plaster, then glints of light from the shards of resin. The main protruding shard brings movement and a focal point. There is something new, something of interest, at every angle.

The knob formed by the neck of the container was an unexpected bonus. I thought the cast would have no natural base, which would be interesting in itself. Instead the knob acts as a stable anchor to position the cast, and I think the sample is stronger through having that simplification of shape and distance from the original purpose of the vessel.

Sample p3-52
There was a little plaster left in the mixing bowl, so on the spur of the moment I attempted an idea that had been cut earlier. This links back to assignment 1 and the crumpling of paper. Could crumpled paper be captured, strengthened, made permanent, with the use of plaster?

Sample p3-52

Sample p3-52

Unfortunately this sample doesn’t answer that question. By the time I scurried around, found and crumpled some paper, the plaster was well into setting. The result is unstable and flaky.

However I think it is quite photogenic.

It looks good, but is effectively unpresentable. Even if exhibited in a glass dome vibrations from passersby would dislodge more fragments.

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Casting with plaster
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Project 2: Casting the internal space of a vessel
Casting with plaster

T1-MMT-P3-p2 More casting with resin

Sample p3-33

Sample p3-33

Encouraged by my earlier “failed” results, I decided to focus on casting with resin. I was interested in creating texture as well as volume by varying my molds. I was also interested in the thin sheets of dribbled resin in parts of sample p3-33. The cloudiness of the thicker areas hasn’t cleared – my working theory is that the centre hasn’t cured completely, as the product is intended for laminating not casting. Could I complete the embedding part of the project working thinly and in dribbles to make the most of my material?

Sample p3-38

Sample p3-38

Sample p3-38

Sample p3-38 in progress

Sample p3-38 in progress

Sample p3-38 group shot

Sample p3-38 group shot

Wanting to avoid sharp corners, so distinct in samples p3-35 and 36, I bundled up a sheet of large bubble wrap and hung it to create a round bottom (later to become the domed top).

I didn’t use any kind of release, and a lot of the inner plastic is still attached to the final cast. This combines with the internal cloudiness to create a dull surface.

It is difficult in the photograph above to determine if the circles are indented or protrude. In a second photograph I included samples p3-17 to 20 (1-September-2015) to bring some colour and light. I was also hoping for a clearer indication of the form of the cast, but it’s not effective.

Using a release agent such as vaseline may have provided a better result, with plastic only caught in crevices.

The shape overall is complex and intriguing. It fits comfortably in the palm of the hand, and calls out to be explored by touch and eye. The texture varies, smooth where formed around the dome of the bubbles, rippled in places where the bubbles had popped. This was a particularly large scale of bubble, around 4 cm across, and combined with the general deformation of the cast the mold used isn’t immediately obvious to the viewer. There are clusters of fine bubbles in the resin. While often seen as a flaw I find this breaks up the bulk and adds an extra level of detail and interest.

Sample p3-39

Sample p3-39

Sample p3-39

Sample p3-39 with p3-35

Sample p3-39 with p3-35

I thought it might be interesting to combine my two casting materials. This sample is shards of plaster embedded in resin.

The result is plain and boring. The simple shape, some old packaging, is bland. The shards of plaster are packed quite thickly and the result is an undifferentiated mass. A few corners of plaster break the surface and are quite hard. This suggests a possible treatment to strengthen and protect plaster. It could be interesting to pour resin over part of a plaster cast.

The photograph bringing the two casts together is effective. P3-39 is smaller – around 10.5 cm long compared to p3-35 at 16 cm – but the difference is reduced by their relative placement. Shapes are similar but different, and the shared material element also helps to create a conversation between the two pieces. Finally in this orientation, curved edge down, the irregular protrusions of p3-39 can be appreciated.

Sample p3-40

Sample p3-40 backlit, sketch 20150922d behind

Sample p3-40 backlit, sketch 20150922d behind

Sample p3-40 preparation

Sample p3-40 preparation

Sample p3-40 sand molded side

Sample p3-40 sand molded side

Sample p3-40 surface raised by fabric

Sample p3-40 surface raised by fabric

Sample p3-40 over patterned cloth

Sample p3-40 over patterned cloth

Sample p1-74, silver lamé distressed using a heat gun (21-April-2015), is here embedded in a sheet of resin. Of the original sample I noted that although the texture was exciting its crunchy and fragile nature would make use very difficult. While Sorting for assignment 1 (23-May-2015) I thought of stabilising it by fusing to organza, or perhaps fuse between layers of plastic.

To make the current sample I prepared a bed of kinetic sand with texture lines from a thick dowel. Two layers of thin plastic protected the sand. The silver lamé was placed on the plastic, then resin poured on. I chose to cover all the fabric with resin, but allowed some distorted areas to remain above the general surface level.

The resulting sheet is thick and quite inflexible. I would need to experiment with drilling if I wanted to stitch through it. The distressed, distorted surface of the lamé is clearly visible, but no longer fragile. The surface textures were difficult to photograph, but the textured sand left a pleasant, unobtrusive, general rippling of the surface. On the other side where parts of the fabric sit above the surface, the fabric is crisp and strong and from the right angle adds an extra level of interest.

The real potential here appears to be the broken visibility created. I played with a number of patterned fabrics. Larger patterns tend to become unreadable, but smaller patterns are concealed/revealed effectively. The standout combination was the top photograph, backlit and transforming an unsatisfactory sketch. In the right context this technique could be a very useful way of stabilising a fragile surface, and of creating a continuous surface with variable transparency.

Sample p3-41

Sample p3-41

Sample p3-41

Sample p3-41 preparation

Sample p3-41 preparation

Sample p3-41 with p3-33 and p3-34

Sample p3-41 with p3-33 and p3-34

This sample began with the idea of netting of a hammock creating texture in a mold. The photograph on the right shows the base setup – a mesh fruit bag was suspended over a bucket. The “structural” pop sticks act to spread out the ends. This structure was lined with orange plastic (off-cuts from the extended sample of assignment 1, 2-July-2015).

The result is similar is size and general shape to sample p3-38 above, but where that was very complex this sample is deceptively simple. There is a gentle undulating irregularity in the overall shape, textured by a series of fine, parallel lines. The cross lines of the grid are almost imperceptible, except in two places where the orange plastic liner has caught in the crease.

Unlike the dulling effect of the plastic caught on substantial areas of p3-38, here the touch of colour adds a spark and vitality that lifts the sample from the ordinary. Cutting across the prevailing lines of the cast the orange fragments provide movement and a focal point. It brings to mind Chung-Im Kim’s work
Tumsae, seen recently in Wollongong (21-September-2015).

Photographed with earlier resin samples, an orange cast can be seen in the colour of the new piece. Possibly this has been transferred from the plastic – another property to explore?

Sample p3-42

Sample p3-42

Sample p3-42

Meri Ishida Pappagallo neclace and earrings

Meri Ishida
Pappagallo necklace and earrings

Inspired by Meiri Ishida’s work, also seen in Wollongong, this sample was an attempt to harden synthetic felt without changing its visual appearance. The result is a flexible board that can, with some difficulty, be cut with scissors. I brushed the resin on, which roughened the surface, I also used too much, so there is a shiny plastic finish on part of the bottom surface. The felt used by Meiri Ishida was thicker. A lot of experimentation would be needed to get just the right balance of materials and to fine tune the application process.

Sample p3-43

Sample p3-43

Sample p3-43

Having a small amount of resin left over from other samples, I quickly picked some tiny flowers and fronds and set them in resin. The flowers are only partly covered. It will be interesting to see any changes in the materials over time.

Sample p3-44

Sample p3-44

Sample p3-44

Sample p3-44 in progress

Sample p3-44 in progress

Sample p3-44 view 2

Sample p3-44 view 2

Sample p3-44 drip pool

Sample p3-44 drip pool

Sample p3-44 is the most direct application of the dribbling question posed at the beginning of this post. The base material is a small net I knotted in a cotton warp yarn some time ago.

I suspended the net over a plastic basket lined in thin plastic. Resin was rubbed on by (gloved) hand, three times with five minute breaks in between. I was hoping to create stalactites, as seen in samples p3-33 and 34. These didn’t form. Possibly I should have waited until the resin was less runny, possibly I should have a much shorter gap between suspended net and the base.

No stalactites formed, but little “dew drops” of resin sparkle along the net like spider webs on a misty morning. The net is stiff and holds its shape, but there is some bend flexibility. I haven’t pushed it to failure point.

Difficult to photograph, the effect is charming. It could make a sparkling statement if well-lit, and if hung could swing freely for extra interest. It could be interesting to do this treatment on net placed over a mould or suspended in a more complex arrangement.

Drips from the process gathered in a pool below, and I was able to separate most of it from the liner plastic in one piece. In the photograph the drip pool is shown with the lightfold I made in a recent workshop (19-September-2015), and if you click on the photo to make it larger you may be able to see the visual distortion caused by upstanding dribble lines.

Sample p3-45

Sample p3-45

Sample p3-45

Sample p3-45 in progress

Sample p3-45 in progress

Sample p3-45 balanced against sample p3-33

Sample p3-45 balanced against sample p3-33

There were a number of goals with this sample:
* create a very thin sheet;
* use thread inclusions, only partially embedded;
* move into 3D – curve the sheet.

I used a thin plastic chopping board sheet – flexible but not floppy. A mix of cut threads was placed on the board (this can be seen in the background preparation photo of the next sample). Resin was gently dribbled over. There was no barrier – spread was controlled by volume of liquid resin. After perhaps 20 minutes I tied the board over a large pvc pipe to form the curve. The resin wasn’t as set as I hoped and there was slow dribbling down the sides. After curing overnight the resin could be removed from the plastic base.

When first removed the curve was sufficient to stand the sheet upright with no other support, but it isn’t stable over time. The underside, which was against the plastic board, is satin smooth with a frosted appearance from the very slight texture of the plastic. The upper side is glossy and rough with the texture of the threads. Most of the thread is darkened and glossy as if damp, but there are some sections untouched by resin and still soft and with some movement. I wasn’t able to piece it with an awl – another reminder to attempt drilling.

This sample is very pretty. The resin is thin and the threads seem to sit on the surface. It is particularly effective backlit (from either direction) or backed by a light coloured surface.

I see a lot of potential in this technique. It is very decorative, highly textured and responds well to lighting.

Sample p3-46

Sample p3-46

Sample p3-46

Sample p3-46 preparation

Sample p3-46 preparation

The idea for this sample came when I noticed a mixing stick left in the resin pot which had developed a little “foot”. Could I create an upright, self-supporting piece of resin covered fabric?

The fabric started as sample p1-75 (21-April-2015), heatgun treated crystal organza. At the time I noted variation in colour and transparency which could be useful. It appeared again as part of sample p2-28 (27-June-2015) in a hinge join experiment.

Sample p3-46 side view

Sample p3-46 side view

For the current experiment the fabric was suspended above the worktable. A silk painting claw in one corner of fabric minimised the attachment point. The lower corner fell into a ring mold on the table.

Resin was gently dribbled onto the fabric. I ensured that all the fabric was covered, and any excess resin was held in the ring mold to form a base. Resin was applied three times with five minute breaks between.

I am thrilled by the result.

Sample p3-46 detail

Sample p3-46 detail


The fabric is beautifully displayed. It is quite upright, firm and stable on its base. All the texture and variable transparency of the fabric has been retained. In the less dense areas warp and weft can still be distinguished by touch as well as sight. Although it is still, the sample looks dynamic. I particularly like the selvedge along one side, making the nature of the object quite clear.

This is very exciting. It provides an easy, stable way to create height with no external support required. There must be limitations in size (the sample is 17 cm high), weight of fabric and stability. I’ve been playing with lighting on both sides, with other samples, it always looks good.

resin group 1

resin group 1

I’ve been spending a lot of time arranging and rearranging my growing set of casting and molding samples. In the arrangement above three of my stars, samples p3-45, p3-46 and p3-33 work together to create a moment of delayed gratification – “this looks interesting… what’s that behind it?” I like the idea of not being obvious from every direction in an exhibition space.

resin group 2

resin group 2

More elements together. It’s not quite working, but I like the various heights achieved.

A low bookcase at one end of my worktable provides some space where I collect samples while working through an assignment.

Casting and molding group

Casting and molding group

Often as I walk past I pause, move something slightly, try a new combination. I think there’s some real promise in this set.

T1-MMT-P3-p2 More casting with resin
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Project 2: Casting the internal space of a vessel
More casting with resin

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Holiday sketchbook

Last week I was away on the south coast for a few days of relaxation. Naturally the new drawing materials came with me. The holiday was great. The sketching was fun and absorbing – until I looked at the results and wondered what I’ve been doing the past few years. In the spirit of recording and reflecting on failures as well as success…

sketch_20150922aI can’t complain about inspiration, waking up to that view (actually that’s one small part of the 180 degree views from ocean front and right, across bay, to mountains not seen here on left).

sketch 20150922a

sketch 20150922a

Working on colour matching, drawing on my android tablet. Looking across the bay towards the mountains at dusk. No detail, just light airbrushing, but I was pretty happy with the colours, especially the transition from mountain to sky.

sketch 20150922b

sketch 20150922b

Wax crayons on A3 cartridge paper. Not too bad, focusing on colour mixing, texture, two particular trees against the background of smaller, barer trees just to the left of the photo above. There’s some movement in the main trees, and the rhythm of the other tree trunks. My idea was to apply a wash for background glimpses of sea, sky and land.

sketch 20150922c

sketch 20150922c

Applying a wash was not the right choice of technique over water soluble crayon. Or rather, I should have used different crayons for the original drawing. Some mildly interesting water marks, but basically a blurry mess.

sketch 20150922d

sketch 20150922d

Trying to get some value out of the previous disaster, I put on lots of colour that may or may not have been in the ocean, and tried moving the colour around and creating texture. Looking for a positive, maybe this could be used as a background sometime. Perhaps I could collage some tissue over first.

sketch 20150922e

sketch 20150922e

The markings of the fish on the dinner menu reminded me of that rhythm of tree trunks, so I tried using that as my base. The idea of the fish (at a different scale!) swimming in the ocean behind seemed a nice touch. Realising the strong original design would want to take over I used oil pastels, hoping for decent coverage. I think it nearly, nearly works – but doesn’t work. I felt my observational skills were improving, it was an absorbing problem, I’m really liking working with the oil pastels – so if I focus on the process and not the outcome, OK.

sketch 20150922f

sketch 20150922f

An unfinished sketch of a banksia pod, this time in the water resistant wax pastels. Obviously I was just mucking around with colour. I was planning to do more and finish with another attempt at a wash, but ran out of time. Just as well, while there was still some life and movement and lightness to it. The lower right area where I worked more has gone very dull and bland.

sketch 20150922g

sketch 20150922g

Naturally I was also thinking about the next round of casting samples, making quick notes and sketches as ideas came. I’ve been home a couple of days and have attempted a few of them. More on that in another post.

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Holiday sketchbook
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Project 2: Casting the internal space of a vessel
Holiday sketchbook

T1-MMT-P3 Exhibitions in Wollongong

Sculptural Felt International: we felt like Crossing borders…
At Wollongong Art Gallery until late November, this travelling exhibition goes beyond traditional technical boundaries to include wet, needle and industrial felt, often combined with other media and techniques. Twelve artists are included, and a particular pleasure is that multiple works by each are shown, allowing the viewer a clearer appreciation of the explorations and interests of each artist.

Chung-Im Kim - exhibition view

Chung-Im Kim – exhibition view

Seven pieces by Chung-Im Kim are displayed along one wall. Dated from 2009 to 2014, these demonstrate an on-going exploration of the artist’s chosen medium and techniques. Chung-Im Kim has cut pieces of industrial felt, then hand-stitched them to create a new whole. A number of the works have been dyed in whole or part, others have been screen-printed. The breaks in pattern and the shadows, lines and dimension produced by this process, combine harmoniously.
Chung-Im Kim Tumsae

Chung-Im Kim
Tumsae

Chung-Im Kim detail

Chung-Im Kim
detail

I found Tumsae particularly effective, the glow of the Lac natural dye and the movement of the loose hanging threads creating interest without disguising the stitched texture. I felt the complex screen printing of some other works competed with the lines and shadows of the stitching.

Rebecca Howdeshell detail

Rebecca Howdeshell
detail

Rebecca Howdeshell Geomorphology 2

Rebecca Howdeshell
Geomorphology 2

Rebecca Howdeshell also uses industrial felt, and in the example shown small areas of paper. The felt is machine stitched with varying density, producing a trapunto-life effect. There was a touch of colour in the paper on two small works (unfortunately my photographs are badly blurred), but most of the work is a plain cream, putting all the attention on the lines and areas of stitch. In her artist statement Howdeshell explains that her study begins with drawings which are developed into patterns. This may have been clearer in some of her other works – I chose this example because of the use of space and the varying densities of work including quite large areas untouched. The inclusion of paper is also interesting, adding an extra texture and helping to guide the eye around the work.

Jantine Koppert The Essentials I & II

Jantine Koppert
The Essentials I & II

This large work by Jantine Koppert dominated one end of the gallery space. The intense colours, dynamic lines, large scale and overall energy and vitality command attention. The linear ridges of the stitching and the crumpling effect catch the light and create still more interest. It really does look like a penciled line in space.

Anita Larkin Cradle

Anita Larkin
Cradle

Anita Larkin was well represented by a range of her quirky, clever, beautifully crafted sculptures. Unfortunately I missed her artist floor talk by minutes. Larkin is a sculptor who treats fibres in her felt-making as a modeling material. She mixes her felt with a diverse range of found objects, and she mixes techniques as well, joining by stitch or screw as needed by the work, whether metal or fibre.

I was able to hear the final few comments in question time, when Larkin explained that her work always starts with the idea, the message, and she approaches her materials as a sculptor, selecting the materials and techniques that best serve her need.

Kitty Korver Large wall object No 7

Kitty Korver
Large wall object No 7

Kitty Korver detail

Kitty Korver
detail

Techniques used in this work by Kitty Korver are described in the catalogue as “wetfelting, carving and needlefelting”. The precision is just amazing. Highly refined felt, incredible crisp carving (apparently using scalpels), absolutely no apparent mixing of the two colours of fibre. In this work that small blue dot on the left fascinated me. It brings the whole composition to life – something a little unexpected, a little different in that controlled, perfect world.

The felt has been molded and stiffened into a bowl shape, and behind is a wooden support or “foot ring”. This is a reference to Korver’s past work in ceramics. I felt a personal resonance in this – how will my past work as a weaver appear in my future?

Meri Ishida Pappagallo neclace and earrings

Meiri Ishida
Pappagallo neclace and earrings

This work by Meiri Ishida actually has a direct link to my current project work. She treats her felt material with resin to harden it without altering weight or shape. A number of the artists had provided small “touch” samples, and Meiri Ishida’s treated felt was firm to the touch with no visual sign of the treatment. I’ve included a small sample of felt in my latest session with resin (still curing), but suspect I used too much and the resin will be apparent.

Karen Richards Flora non Evidens

Karen Richards Flora non Evidens

Karen Richards
Flora non Evidens

Also at the Wollongong Art Gallery was Karen Richards’ installation Flora non Evidens. This was in a darkened room, with headlamps provided for use by visitors. The display was machine embroidered in reflective thread, sometimes cut out in shapes, sometimes supported on falling lengths of black tulle. It was a little like walking into a cave of phosphorescent fungi. The elusive quality of endangered plants is reflected in the uncertain light of the torches, their fragile existence in the fragility of the lace.

Presentation of work, ways of engaging with the viewer, has been of growing interest to me. Richards’ work really engaged and involved the viewer. It became an entire, enveloping experience. Another innovative presentation I’ve seen in the past was The Weeping Dress, a performance and installation by Martha McDonald in Sensorial Loop, the 1st Tamworth Textile Triennial exhibition. I didn’t see the actual performance, but the remains of the dress worn and a video loop. More information is at marthalmcdonald.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/the-weeping-dress.html. In the 2nd Tamworth Triennial, Group Exchange, Anita Larkin’s felted piece was displayed on the wall, and also played in performances by the Australia Piano Quartet – see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwXrJW8jX3c&feature=youtu.be. I’d like to collect more examples.

T1-MMT-P3 Exhibitions in Wollongong
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Exhibitions in Wollongong

T1-MMT-P3 Melissa Silk: Lightfold workshop

Paper folding and light – this workshop at the Art Gallery of NSW seemed made for my current course. Melissa Silk guided our exploration of “ideas related to biomimicry, elementary symmetries, iteration and illumination while learning about structure, strength, stability and translations” in making a lamp using “origami sekkei (mathematical paper folding)”, to quote from the class blurb.

Melissa is a school teacher who has been developing classes that cross curricular areas, finding the creativity in mathematical theory and its use in an aesthetic form. It falls within a movement or approach with the acronym STEAM, which is STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – plus Arts.

Basic unit

Basic unit

The class began with a brief overview of the concepts involved, and introduced us to a basic unit. This has internal symmetries that will provide strength and flexibility. For our project a glide reflection transformation of the basic unit was used. Melissa made this easy for us, providing paper that had been embossed by a printer, with hills, valleys and the very important flats or gaps.

We embellished the sheets of paper, using a variety of drawing tools or simple piercing. There followed a period of very careful pre-creasing, then the actual folding. “Folding” is such a benign term for a very frustrating process.
20150101aI had done a little folding at the beginning of the year while waiting for the OCA Mixed Media course to arrive, and as the final pattern looked familiar thought I had done it before. In fact that had been fishbone folds from “Folding Architecture: Spatial, Structural and Organizational Diagrams” by Sophia Vyzoviti (see 9-January-2015). It turns out I remembered the new pattern from the cover of “Folding techniques for designers: From sheet to form” by Paul Jackson.

Finally the folds fell into place, we glued the results into cylinders, and used battery powered LED submersible lights to finish our lamps.

Lightfold lamp

Lightfold lamp

The lamp is around 16 cm high and I chose a very simple piecing pattern as my embellishment. I also chose a white light. Some colours were available, and at the end some students experimented with using a different colour at each end to create some really lovely effects.

Everyone used the same basic fold structure, but got quite different shapes and levels of structural strength and flexibility based on dimensions of the original page and direction in which the cylinder was formed. Mine is very flexible, curved, and can be manipulated into a ball shape. If rolled perpendicular to this, a straight and rigid cylinder is created. If rolled against the natural curve of the folds other shapes emerge.

I would love to experiment more with some of those variations, or at different scales, or some of the more complex folds included in Jackson’s book. A fellow student and I speculated about textile techniques that could take advantage of the structural possibilities. I also want to get some more of the little LED lamps and learn more about other new lighting options. Given simple backlighting can be so effective with course samples there must be wonderful opportunities to exploit with varied light sources.

More information about Melissa Silk’s explorations: http://www.refractionmedia.com.au/education-insider-melissa-silk/

T1-MMT-P3 Melissa Silk: Lightfold workshop
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Melissa Silk: Lightfold workshop

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Casting sketchbook

Attempts continue to expand my range of mediums when sketching. Inspired by fellow OCA student Sally Harrison (link to just one of her exciting posts) I’ve acquired a range of oil pastels, water-resistant wax pastels, and water-soluble wax pastels, all from Caran D’Ache. Together with my existing Conté crayons that should give me lots of drawing options.

sketch 20150914a

sketch 20150914a

Above are first baby steps with all four mediums, on pastel paper. I started with the nice line from the 3D pen on sample p3-26. The oil pastel is particularly luscious, so I continued with that looking at the bubble-wrap based sample p2-23 (on the left in blues). Liking very much the quality of lines I was getting, I tried a more blended approach still with oil, looking at sample p3-25. All samples are from 6-September-2015.

sketch_20150914 b

sketch_20150914 b

The second sketch continues with the oil pastels, my new tool of choice. Wanting to extend my repertoire of drawing base this is A3 kraft paper, an old favourite but varied given previous use as a drop cloth in other sketching, followed by a rough coat of gesso. The sketch itself was thinking about future molding options – this is a computer motherboard, and I’m wondering about its use to create surface design on a molding sample. Doing the sketch I became more aware of all the colours used on the board – on first glance it looks drab, but there is a lot going on!

sketch_20150914 c

sketch_20150914 c

Going a step further, and still within my recurring computer component theme, the base here is cut from the box of a graphics board. Glossy and dark, I wondered if any of the new mediums could handle it. The wax pastels gave a lively line and clung to the difficult surface well, but didn’t have enough coverage to cope with the busy printed design. Back to the oil pastels. The subject above was a piece of bubble wrap draped on my worktable. It’s on the “definite” list for future molding sampling.

sketch 20150914 d

sketch 20150914 d

Back with wax pastels, this is looking at sample p3-33. I thought the finer, still lively lines would suit the delicate energy of the sample. The base is a toned gray sketching paper and my focus was reflected light. The paper was a poor choice, looking dull and drab rather than the bright sparkle of the sample. I’m also not taking advantage of the properties of my new mediums, so will need to start experimenting with layering washes.

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Casting sketchbook
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Project 2: Casting the internal space of a vessel
Casting sketchbook

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Casting – glorious failure

Project 2 involves casting the internal space of a vessel. I wanted to try casting with both clear and opaque materials.

I heard about a great clear bio resin from eggpicnic (9-August-2015). Entropy Resins (entropyresins.com/) make a number of epoxy resins that have green credentials based on production techniques (less energy and produce less harmful byproducts) and content (waste products from other industry, a percentage of renewable plant-based carbon rather than petroleum based carbon). Plus the word was that bio resins have much reduced odor. In Australia the best sources seem to be surfboard shops. A mix of errors made by me and the supplier left me with Super Sap BRT (specially formulated for white surfboard lamination) instead of the intended Super Sap CCR (designed for casting and embedding). Never mind, I’m not generally using any materials as the manufacturer expected.

Following my research of artists for this assignment concrete looked a very attractive choice, but given this is short term, small scale, home based use I chose to go for plaster instead – moulding (casting) plaster from Aldax.

Plan for first samples

Plan for first samples

The plan for initial samples was focused on learning basic mixing and handling of the materials. They would be placed in a ziplock sandwich bag and suspended with two ties. Unsure about releasing the resin and plaster from their molds, I wanted to trial a simple release agent – vaseline. So I started with resin and two plastic bags, one with interior smeared with vaseline, the other plain plastic. Mixing, placing in the bags and hanging to set went smoothly.

Initial resin - bag failed

Initial resin – bag failed

Within five minutes both bags had failed. One bag was suspended over a bucket, which caught the escaping material. The second was over the worktable, with just two layers of newsprint for protection.

Was it weight, perhaps heat from the exothermic setting (the product I initially wanted had slow cure speeds and low exothermic temperatures more suitable for casting), stresses caused by the ties, something else??? Mixing up the plaster I chose a less ambitious manipulation, simply laying the bags of material across a raised level on the table. Then I pretended to be patient for a couple of hours while resin and plaster hardened.

Initial resin - bucket remnants

Initial resin – bucket remnants

On the right the resin bag with no added release agent, complete with bulk of the resin from the bucket (last used when indigo dyeing and not rinsed since).

Sample p3-33 bucket remains - detail

Sample p3-33 bucket remains – detail

Sample p3-33 bucket remains

Sample p3-33 bucket remains

The indigo-contaminated pool of resin had separated easily from the bucket and at the detail level is really rather lovely. There are bubbles and bits of dried leaves as well as the indigo blue. The top surface is glossy, the bottom a soft sheen from the bucket (and perhaps dirt!). This suggests all sorts of potential for colouring, texturing and patterning – perhaps in a more controlled manner.

The plastic bag separated quite easily on the more exposed areas, but was sometimes caught in the creases of the highly molded areas. I was able to remove all the obvious plastic (this is the sample with no release agent). A small piece of the suspending string also remains caught.

Sample p3-33

Sample p3-33

The final shape is complex and engaging. Is it an elephant, a yawning camel? The photographs were taken soon after demolding. Later in the day the cloudiness of the thicker areas has reduced. It will be interesting to do another comparison in a week, when the resin should be fully cured. Although not intended the resin has captured the moments just after failure of the plastic, and the combination of mass and delicacy with just a little dynamic movement is effective.

Sample p3-34

Sample p3-34

Sample p3-34

The second resin sample is more reminiscent of a scuttling insect. Possibly more material was lost, or there was less in the bag, as there is definitely less material included.

Sample p3-34 Paper remains

Sample p3-34 Paper remains

The spilt material is thoroughly bonded to the newspaper that covered the worktable. Soaking in water and rubbing have had little effect. I wonder what effect the resin would have on crumpled paper.

At some stage I should try drilling into this material. It could be useful to be able to stitch or tie to create a join. Perhaps this is a way of manipulating / preparing text or imagery for incorporation in a larger work.

Samples p3-33 and p3-34

Samples p3-33 and p3-34

Although this sampling entirely failed in terms of the original intention, it has resulted in some very interesting and unusual shapes. They are much more delicate and detailed than I had imagined in researching and preparing for this project. The amended manipulation of the plaster samples was more as I anticipated.

Sample p3-35

Sample p3-35

Sample p3-35

Sample p3-35 alternate view

Sample p3-35 alternate view

No release agent was used with this sample, but the plastic separated from the set plaster with no difficulty. Shaping and interest was created by lifting the central area of the plaster with a support during the setting time.

Very thin sheets of plaster stretched up the sides of the plastic bag. Much of this has broken off, but a delicate edge remains. This contrasts with the heavier bulk at each side, the sense of weight increased by the folding around the corners of the original bag. The surface of the plaster is smooth and shines where it touched the plastic, also adding to the gravity and a certain formality in the cast.

Sample p3-36

Sample p3-36

Sample p3-36

There are slight differences in the second plaster sample. The sandwich bag mold had been smeared with vaseline before casting – a release agent that wasn’t needed. It impacted the surface finish of the plaster, which is textured and rough rather than smooth and polished in appearance. There were lots of small, irregular pieces of plaster caught on the sides of the plastic rather large flat thin sheets.
Samples p3-35 and p3-36

Samples p3-35 and p3-36

With both samples the nature of the original container is apparent. The bottom fold of the plastic bag has left a clear line. The corners have left easily understood folds. That’s not necessarily a bad (or good) thing, but I would like to develop some alternatives.

Sample p3-37

Sample p3-37

Sample p3-37?

There were a few dregs of resin left in the mixing container, so some quick experiments were added to the plan.

Could kinetic sand (16-April-2015) be used as a mold for resin? This could give a lot of flexibility and avoid constraints of fixed molds. Answer: no, at least not when used as I did with no lining. The resin seeped into the sand. It didn’t harden it, but substantially reduced its flow characteristics.

Could resin be used as a coating on an object, like a stiff varnish, without fully embedding the object? Answer: inconclusive. I dribbled on the last of the resin and spread it across the surface of the leaf with my mixing stick. More seeped underneath than I realised, so there is more embedding than intended. Some embossed markings from the container – recycling and manufacturer information – were captured in the resin. That’s a good reminder to be very conscious of all elements of a make-shift mold. A different technique might give the effect I was looking for – suspend the object and apply resin on all sides. A dribble might form, but that could probably be removed discretely.

What would my wooden mixing stick look like if entirely covered in resin? Answer: a varnished wooden mixing stick.

Glorious?
Within minutes of setting them up my resin samples looked like a messy failure. When those complex shapes appeared from the ruins they seemed glorious, triumphant or even phoenix-like.

I’ve been working on this post a couple of days, and in my mind a question mark has appeared. Glorious? Complex, yes. They grab my eye and I pause to try to make sense of them, as if I should recognise them somehow. Interesting, but I’m not convinced they have potential – or not direct potential. They are so fussy and intricate. I don’t think the shapes would work scaled up. They would have to be simplified and that free, chaotic, dynamic look would be hard to retain. They are frivolous, showy. They defy gravity, even while gravity had such a direct impact on their shaping. I couldn’t see them building into something real, something beyond a sample.

I had reached that conclusion, then turned around to look once more at the offending samples… and saw something else.

Samples p3-34 and p3-36

Samples p3-34 and p3-36

The overall shape of these two samples is similar – long, low, with a lifted bridge-like section in the middle. As the maker I know that gravity was involved in both in quite different ways. Sample p3-34 was made the other way up, and the “bridge” formed because resin flowed out and the level of material was lower. Sample p3-36 “defied” gravity, with extra support placed under the middle.

Still, there is a visual link and I think they look good together. Light is reflected, light is absorbed. There are sharp lines and smooth curves. There is softness and hardness and variation in texture.

Sample p3-12

Sample p3-12

I look back at the “failed join” of sample p3-12 (1-September-2015). In fact all four materials – resin, plaster, composimold, polymorph – look good together. Each offers something different in appearance and properties to the mix. Interesting…

T1-MMT-P3-p2 Casting – glorious failure
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Project 2: Casting the internal space of a vessel
Casting – glorious failure

T1-MMT-P3 Exhibition and book: Julie Paterson

julie_patterson_04

julie_paterson_01julie_patterson_05julie_patterson_02julie_patterson_03julie_patterson_06The exhibition was Cloth: Seeds to Bloom at the Australian Design Centre. The book is ClothBound. The artist’s website is juliepaterson.com.au/ and the shop is clothfabric.com/. There was also a Designer in Residence gig during the State Library‘s Australian Inspiration exhbition. Julie Paterson has been a designer and printer of contemporary textiles for over 20 years, and it seems that this year was her time to share her journey, process and work.

The exhibition was a series of vignettes, themed to display significant textile collections over those years. Seeds was the earliest – overlapping squares based on studio colour exploration, a curly design developed with brush and ink direct on fabric and a third design coming from dye experiments by Paterson’s then business partner.

Paterson’s book is beautifully designed, richly illustrated and full of insights on her processes. Founded in a printed textile design degree in the Midlands of the UK in the early 1980s, her evolved approach has many parallels with what I am learning through OCA today. This is process driven design, based on experimentation, prototype with play and experimentation and “seeing the richness in the small details that I might previously have overlooked” (ClothBound page 33).

Sketchbooks are constant travelling companions, filled with words as well as sketches as Paterson gathers notes, stories, motifs, inspiration from her life and travels. She welcomes mistakes, dead ends, responding to results of process, while also recognising the need to “balance our intuition and spontaneity with time for reflection” (page 59).

A recurring approach is torn or cut paper used to make stencils. In one collection ripped strips of cartridge paper were used, giving “nice and fuzzy” edges to create stripes. The striped design was joined with one of discs or dots, another of irrregular checks, and finally a coordinate, busy and at smaller scale. A stripe, a dot, a check, a co-ordinate – a collection. Each collection displayed formed a cohesive group, and many individual designs have continued to be produced and work together in the wider range.

For many years Paterson has worked with the same printer to produce the commercial range, and the relationship and trust built has allowed even more creative flexibility and innovation.

Considerations in design I want to remember – proportion, not too predictable, a natural rhythm, variation in scale, negative space, flow. Multiple elements can be built up into a complex design, or broken down into individual parts that once again provide cohesion, interest and variety.

I was surprised by how appealing I found these textiles. In general I am not very interested in interior design. However there appeared to be a warmth and honesty in this work, a timelessness rather than fashion approach. Most of the materials are natural, hemp being a particular favourite, and there is texture and substance. The “simple” geometric designs have a quirky independence, and the bush and tropical motifs are both familiar and fresh.

A lot to enjoy and a lot to learn from.

T1-MMT-P3 Exhibition and book: Julie Paterson
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Exhibition and book: Julie Paterson

T1-MMT-P3-p1 Molding continued

Sample p3-23

Sample p2-65

Sample p2-65

I wanted to try some variations of brushing on composimold, and started on a large scale bubblewrap. This was the wrapping material used in sample p2-65 (22-July-2015), where the larger size bubbles contributed to an interesting effect of indeterminate edges. A slightly less structured, more lively version could be useful.

Sample p3-23 detail

Sample p3-23 detail

Sample p3-23

Sample p3-23

This piece is 16cm at its widest. The material is spread thinly across the top of the bubbles, but collected in the valleys. It’s quite strong and more floppy than flexible.

Light is brightly reflected in the bubbles. There is texture and interest at the detail level from the tendrils formed by the cooling material during brushing. It is quite transparent in places.

Sample p3-23 on collage

Sample p3-23 on collage

I tried the sample in a number of places on the collage based on sample p3-9 (4-September-2015). It caused a little distortion of the underlying elements, enriched the colour and brought in texture and a lot of light. This shows a lot of promise for future use, with some research needed on means of attachment.

Sample p3-24

Sample p3-24

Sample p3-24

Sample p3-24 in progress

Sample p3-24 in progress

Sample p3-24 separated

Sample p3-24 separated

Sample p3-24 curled

Sample p3-24 curled

Following the previous sample, I wondered about added composimold to a collage directly. It would be a kind of glossy glaze, and a way of adding extra texture.

I poured some composimold on the collage, then gently placed a few printer and computer bits on top. The photo above shows the texture, colour, depth and gloss created. It was attached, but just a little picking at it separated composimold from base. I don’t know if that would happen in real use if left alone.

It did give me a lovely thin piece of texture which could be curled around into different shapes, catching light and making lovely coloured shadows. The curve brings out the molding that was achieved. This material continues to intrigue.

Sample p3-25

Sample p3-25

Sample p3-25

Could anyone tell what the above is if they didn’t already know?

Sample p2-70

Sample p2-70

I was thinking of sample p2-70 (22-July-2015 and many posts since). Could composimold be another way of creating a scarred shadow, an imperfect memory?

I deliberately brushed the composimold thinly, unevenly, looking for fragility, translucency, scarring. The result has no structural integrity and collapses on itself like the shed skin of a snake. A strong simile and possibilities for metaphor, but I don’t know if there are enough clues left to trigger a response in the viewer. The handle might save it.

The second set of photos above show various attempts to stabilize the work. A glass gave support but was too distinct. When upside down gravity clarifies the shape – that could be useful somewhere, but an upside down mug doesn’t make much sense. I made a spiral of plastic using the 3D pen, but it is intrusive and clumsy. A strip of acetate curled around inside was the most successful, but I’m not confident it would be stable over time. Modifying the original application technique holds promise – composimold a little hotter, more layers building up texture and strength.

The two samples seen together don’t quite work. The pairing doesn’t add anything new. They look like alternatives rather than converging paths.

Samples p3-25 and p2-70

Samples p3-25 and p2-70

Sample p3-26

Sample p3-26 backlit

Sample p3-26 backlit

Sample p2-6 Detail view

Sample p2-6 Detail view

This sample is a development of sample p3-10 (26-August-2015) and refers back to the exciting lines of sample p2-6 (11-June-2015). P2-6 had an abundance of lively lines which edged on overwhelming.

Sample p3-26

Sample p3-26

In this new sample a wriggling line using the 3D pen brings movement and energy to a static piece. The line works at a larger scale and brings the viewer closer to see the detail, thus allowing other detail in the original sample to be appreciated.

On a technical note, the heat of the plastic being extruded from the pen slightly melts the composimold. With a little care the plastic becomes embedded in the surface with a strong join.

Sample p3-26

Sample p3-26

The plastic brings extra dimensionality to the sample, standing away from the surface. This is a successful combination of materials. It takes advantage of the different properties of the materials when joining them. The opaque line of plastic complements the translucent field of composimold. It is another way of adding texture to the texture of the mold. Perhaps it would provide another means of stabilising p3-25 – “decoration” that provides structural support.

Samples p3-27 and p3-28

Sample p1-140 F

Sample p1-140 F

These samples refer back to sample p1-140 (21-May-2015). Using my molding materials, could I create a corrugated surface and then distort it to create a pattern? I experimented with my two molding materials in parallel, first molding on corrugated cardboard.

Sample p3-27 Base piece

Sample p3-27 Base piece

Molding the polymorph went without a hitch. A quick, small test piece suggested no problems demolding, and indeed the cooled polymorph popped off the cardboard easily. I pressed the warmed sheet of material into the cardboard using a spiral metal skewer, and the traces of that add a tiny extra light-catching level of detail.

Sample p3-28 in progress

Sample p3-28 in progress

The composimold did not go so easily. An initial test suggested it would stick to the cardboard. A second test with vaseline brushed on to the cardboard as a release worked satisfactorily. The full scale mold used cardboard thoroughly brushed with vaseline as the base and a sealing border of plasticine. Cardboard and composimold gripped tightly and would not release. The composimold was hotter and poured in rather than brushed on as in the test, which may have been the difference. Wetting the cardboard to assist rubbing it off revealed that composimold gets slimy and then tacky when moistened. With time and determination almost all the cardboard was removed, but it raises questions over the behaviour of composimold in humid as well as hot conditions.

Sample p3-28 Base piece

Sample p3-28 Base piece

Having molded the corrugations, the next step was to distort them in a semi-controlled way. The first attempt of heating a palette knife in boiling water and pulling it across the surfaces had no effect. In the following series I used various tips on a wood-burning tool.

Samples p3-27 and 28 tips

Samples p3-27 and 28 tips

Sample p3-27 a

Sample p3-27 a

Tip “a” had a wide base that was easy to drag across the polymorph. The tool has no adjustable heat regulator and it was a matter of judgement on speed to melt the material enough to shape it while still being able to glide the tip and not stick or cause holes. The effect is subtle and depends on lighting, but reasonably effective.

Sample p3-28 a

Sample p3-28 a

The tool tended to burn rather than melt the composimold, but an interesting watery ripple effect was created. It is even more subtle and dependent on lighting than the polymorph.

Sample p3-27 b

Sample p3-27 b

Tip “b” had a more slicing than sliding effect and tended to skip across the surface in little jerks. The results are not controlled but not really random. I don’t find the texture created inspiring.

Sample p3-28 b

Sample p3-28 b

The tip was more effective on the composimold, but the photograph shows it in just the right light. From most angles little can be seen.

Sample p3-27 c

Sample p3-27 c

Tip “c” is round and flat, intended for transferring designs on to wood. I both dragged it across the surface and used it like a branding iron. Both methods worked fairly well on the polymorph, although I held the tip a little too long when “branding” and the polymorph melted and pulled up with the tip. This results in a few holes, but also one of the more effective and visible marks. A series or pattern of dots across a surface has potential.

Sample p3-28 c

Sample p3-28 c

The broader ripples caused by dragging tip “c” across the composimold make it one of the most effective on this material. It works to break up the rigidity of the lines of corrugation into a more organic form. It would be interesting to combine this with earlier ideas of adding colour to the material and collaging it, for example to bring light, depth and texture to a water theme. The brand effect was not effective, as the tool was too hot to leave touching the material.

Sample p3-27 d

Sample p3-27 d

Tip “d” was intended as a brand, a series of parallel lines in a dot. It worked well on the polymorph, although dragging it across was difficult. I angled the branded lines across the lines of corrugation and the change in scale and orientation is effective.

Sample p3-28 d

Sample p3-28 d

This was also one of the more effective tips on the composimold, making small dots that are visible on both sides of the material. The small branded lines are just enough to catch the light differently and the overall surface is smooth and more glossy than the slightly degraded surface left by removal of cardboard.

Sample p3-27 e

Sample p3-27 e

The final tip was used both to score lines across the material and to pierce holes. Both were very effective on the polymorph, and this would provide a much more controllable and effective tool for creating holes and channels than the soldering iron used in sample p3-13 c (1-September-2015). I would like to use this on a flat sheet of the polymorph to see if more fluid drawing lines could be created.

Sample p3-28 e

Sample p3-28 e

The tip was also very effective in creating lines across the polymorph. When handling and twisting the material it makes bending across the line of the corrugation easier, with the bonus of different reflections as the gap opens. The line created is clearer to follow than the broader ripples created by other tips. Hole creation was less effective, with gaps refilling and the concern that holes too close would merge.

Sample p3-27 backlit

Sample p3-27 backlit

Sample p3-28 backlit

Sample p3-28 backlit

Overall the wood-burning tool has potential in embellishing molded surfaces but the impact of results are very dependent on lighting. Side lighting is more effective on the broader distortions such as from tip c on the polymorph. The distortions are visible from both sides of the composimold. As sampled here the results on both materials are subtle. A more effective use could be a single type of mark used in a pattern over a wider area. The pattern could be easier to discern, especially if the angle of lighting reflected well on only part of the work.

Sample p3-29

Sample p2-3 a

Sample p2-3 a

The two previous samples, complete with holes punched down one side, provided the opportunity for more exploration of joining the two molding materials. Sample p2-3 (6-June-2015) was a reference for the lacing style attempted.

Sample p3-29

Sample p3-29

A number of threads attempted proved too bulky to fit through the holes already punched, however 28 gauge wire slipped through the polymorph holes easily. It was also easy to force through the composimold in areas where there wasn’t already a hole. However the wire looks spindly and inadequate, quite out of proportion with the more substantial materials being joined. Spiral decoration added at the bottom in lieu of a bow suggested an alternative treatment.

Sample p3-30

Sample p3-30

Sample p3-30

The same wire was laced through, this time with a spiral being formed in the wire each time it comes to the upper surface. This provides more visual weight and interest, at the expense of making the join less effective. It doesn’t contribute a positive to the composition.

Sample p3-31

Sample p3-31

Sample p3-31

Stranded cotton embroidery thread has more substance and presence. The thread compacts well in the holes, but naturally spreads on the surface and creates greater impact. I used a chenille needle which was effective in getting the thread through the holes and in creating holes as needed in the composimold. However I did notice the thread getting a bit sticky as it was passed repeatedly through the material – perhaps it was a gradual build up of heat from the hands, or friction from the thread movement. The clearly different nature of the thread brings variety and interest, creating an effective join both decoratively and functionally. This is clearly the most successful of the three lacing samples.

Sample p3-32
An attraction in the previous sample was the visibility of the thread through the composimold. I decided to explore this further, embellishing with simple stitch. This refers back to project 5 of part one, puncturing and stitching, which I didn’t attempt at that time.

Sample p3-33 detail

Sample p3-32 detail

Sample p3-33

Sample p3-32

I followed a few of the lines created in sample p3-28 with a running stitch. The strands of the embroidery cotton lie smoothly side by side as the thread passes over the corrugations. When going underneath the surface the colour is muted, the sheen vanishes, and the line is slightly distorted. I decided to use a simple knot at the end of each line of stitching. This gives a consistency of appearance from the surface. Given visibility is unavoidable I found this an attractive alternative. I like the slightly wayward character of the short loose ends given the strong lines elsewhere.

The ease of stitching into the composimold and the clearly different yet compatible appearances of materials makes this an attractive form of embellishment. Given the subtlety of the wood-burner marks only a few lines of stitch were added. Any more would dominate too much. With this I find my eye more willing to search the “empty” areas for more information.

Sample p3-33

Sample p3-32

Sample p3-33

Highlighting areas of wood-burner marks using stitch was also effective on the polymorph sample. The sheet of material is fairly thin and there was no difficulty pre-punching stitching holes with an awl. Given the opacity of the material I chose to carry threads across the back more than in the previous sample. On review I think this was a mistake in the top right quadrant, where the thread moving from one group of stitches to the next can be seen from the surface. The row of holes up the side was visually dominant and cried out to be stitched, although the rather bulky and loose french knot used as part of maintaining the angle of stitches at the side calls for refinement. Although the burner marks on this sample are more apparent on this sample I still restricted the areas of stitch to maintain balance.

I view both stitch samples as successful and holding potential for further development.

T1-MMT-P3-p1 Molding continued
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Project 1: Molding from a surface
Molding continued


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