T1-MMT-P3-p1 Molding with Joining

Sample p2-5 Link - accordion folds

Sample p2-5

As previously discussed (29-August-2015) I decided to explore further with composimold and polymorph, rather than go on to other materials. This linked back nicely to the joining exercises of Assignment 2. In particular I was thinking of sample p2-5 (7-June-2015). The was a join of two very different materials where I was able to take advantage of the properties of one to shape the other. In turn that sample linked back to the accordion folds of Assignment 1, which is satisfying.

Sample p3-12

Sample p3-12 polymorph

Sample p3-12 polymorph

First polymorph was molded onto a computer circuit board. During this session I changed from the previous softening method of hot water and instead heated the material directly in the microwave, following instructions found on the internet (letsmakerobots.com
/content/making-polymorph-sheets-and-brackets
). Effective and I got fewer air bubbles, but if you try it be very careful of the heat.

Sample p3-12 composimold added

Sample p3-12 composimold added

When the polymorph had cooled I put on the silicone ring and sealed with plasticine, then poured in composimold. As the image shows there was a small area of overlap, and I anticipated that there would be a little seepage at the edge underneath. Would the materials bond sufficiently for the join to hold? I thought the composimold would be sufficiently hot to melt the polymorph slightly at the edges, but I didn’t see any change of colour from white to transparent so apparently not.

Sample p3-12

Sample p3-12

When set I was able to demold the pieces together. While setting I’d realised my best sides might not match, given earlier composimold samples looked clearer with the molded side down, but the polymorph needed to be viewed molded side up. On this sample the patterning on the composimold was larger, more distinct and regular, viewing well from either side. The two materials complement each other and create an attractive whole.

Sample p3-12 Join failed

Sample p3-12 Join failed

Unfortunately the materials hadn’t bonded at all and just peeled apart. While not my current focus, I like this effect. There’s a sun and moon, yin and yang feel. It appeals to my interest in boundaries and fragility. It also provides the opportunity to play with negative space, or to create tension or connection across a wider space.

Sample p3-13

Sample p3-13 channel and hole join plan

Sample p3-13 channel and hole join plan

The next idea was to create create holes with channels leading to them in the polymorph. When adding the composimold it would run through the channels underneath, up through the holes, then link into more material spreading across the top.

Sample p3-13 a - channel making attempts

Sample p3-13 a – channel making attempts

I flattened out a piece of polymorph, then made a series of attempts to create the holes and channels.

An initial try with a fork didn’t create satisfactory holes and the channels were minimal. I then tried pushing wires through a flat piece of polymorph. The wires would stay in place while the polymorph was pressed into the mold, thus creating channels. Another dead end. I didn’t have enough hands to control all the pieces and any holes or channels disappeared as I molded the polymorph onto the card.

Sample p3-13 b polymorph

Sample p3-13 b – polymorph

Perhaps I could take the polymorph mold, remove it to creates holes and channels, then replace it on the mold ready for the composimold. I used a different computer card this time, spikier, with the thought it would help me replace the plastic more accurately. The mold took quite well and I was able to remove it with a bit of a struggle, but it was immediately obvious that I wouldn’t be able to get it back on.

Sample p3-13 c -polymorph with soldering iron

Sample p3-13 c -polymorph with soldering iron

On to the next idea. I made a flat piece of polymorph and made holes and channels using a soldering iron. One of the things I like best about this attempt is the shadow in the photo – mysterious soldering iron on its stand and lively wisps of polymorph at the edges.

Sample p3-13 c polymorph remelted on to card

Sample p3-13 c polymorph remelted on to card

I reheated the result in the microwave. The thickness of the piece was uneven – I had to stop heating before the whole piece was soft, or risk everything collapsing in a sticky mess. As a result the molding onto the card wasn’t complete. Meanwhile the seal at the edges looked too complete. I had tried to avoid pressing down too much at the edges, but it was all rather difficult to manage.

Sample p3-13 c - composimold added

Sample p3-13 c – composimold added

I continued regardless, adding the ring and sealing. I deliberately poured the compositor a bit thick and over the edges into the holes, trying to encourage the formation of connections.

Sample p3-13 c

Sample p3-13 c

The result is promising. There are a few flaws – some rusty marks from the soldering iron, a tiny piece that adhered from the mold (I was able to remove it later), distinctly non-circular. Still the connection is quite firm, the composimold managed to get around all the edges creating a neat finish, the molded impression carries across the two materials successfully.

I was pleased with the outcome but wanted to take it further, creating movement in the composimold by distorting the polymorph. First I tried heating with hairdryer, hoping to soften polymorph enough to twist it. The composimold started getting tacky, with no sign of the polymorph reacting. Next I tried steam, trying direct it at the polymorph only while protecting the composimold. The composimold started getting tacky. Time to move on, but not before another photo. This is definitely a sample with potential. Even the channels and holes could be arranged to decorative effect.

Sample p3-13 c in sunlight

Sample p3-13 c in sunlight

Sample p3-14

Sample p3-14 in progress

Sample p3-14 in progress

The next sample was basically the reverse.
I made a ring of polymorph, fairly thin and stretched even thinner around the centre hole. Molded into the computer card it made a sealed area to contain the composimold. This photo shows both materials on the card, plus the delicate propping up required to provide a close to horizontal surface.

Sample p3-14 backlit

Sample p3-14 backlit

Sample p3-14

Sample p3-14

This result also shows potential. The more spiky surface of the card produced strong marking on both materials. It looks like some sort of code – computer hieroglyphics.

The combination of materials continues to please me. There is a gloss to the composimold, a sheen to the polymorph, which provide variety with an overall unity. The thinner polymorph and extra depth of molded holes gives an increased translucency in the backlit view.

The join is reasonably effective, but I suspect with a little effort I could push the “window” out. In this particular sample there is also an unfortunate resemblance to a fried egg – by amusing chance I used the silicone ring to angle the work to catch the light better in one photo.

Once again I wasn’t able to deform the polymorph. Any heating affected the composimold first. Reviewing the work now I wonder if I could pop out the window, distort the polymorph, and reinsert. I’ll attempt that in my next work session.

Sample p3-15
Wanting to reflect before continuing the previous sequence, I turned to joining polymorph and textile. Sample p3-7 (23-August-2015) was an unsatisfactory attempt to use a textile as a mold for polymorph. This time I wanted to try joining a textile and polymorph in the molding process. I used a piece of thin commercial needled prefelt for the textile. I had a vague idea that it would have lots of short fibres that could be partially removed. A flat piece of soft polymorph was place on a flat surface and the prefelt laid over. I then pressed down with a computer casing part.

Sample p3-15

Sample p3-15

You may just be able to discern some molding of the materials in the photograph above. It is obvious to the touch, but the texture and depth of the prefelt almost entirely obscures the impression of the mold.

I tried pulling off areas of prefelt. It became slightly thinner, but all those short fibres were too deeply caught in the polymorph. I then tried to mat the prefelt, using water and rubbing – basically felting it. Perhaps because I had already removed a lot of fibre there was no significant improvement. It just looks a fuzzy mess, and any photograph just looks an out of focus mess.

Sample p3-16
Deeper molding was needed. This time I made a sheet of polymorph, then pressed prefelt into it and molded the joined materials by hand. When cooled I used soap, cool water (no heat, which would resoften the polymorph) and gentle rubbing to consolidate the prefelt.

Sample p3-16 Side view

Sample p3-16 Side view

Sample p3-16 Top view

Sample p3-16 Top view

Sample p3-16 Bottom view

Sample p3-16 Bottom view

Scale is difficult to see, but the top “peak” is almost 3 cm high. The polymorph and prefelt are solidly attached. It feels quite light – 21g on my kitchen scales, 12 x 9 x 3 cm.

There is so, so much potential here. Remember I can colour the polymorph (sidetrack in assignment 1, 21-April-2015). On smallish pieces I could use a larger sheet of prefelt and incorporate it into a larger felt piece. I could have more control of the final shape by making a mold in kinetic sand (another sidetrack, 16-April-2015). I could make holes with a soldering iron (see above, this post), or perhaps finer and neater with a hot T-pin say, and attach to whatever by stitch. I need to experiment, but can’t see why it wouldn’t work with fabrics, at least thin ones. Or I could attempt a thinner sheet of polymorph, even lighter. If I want 3D in textiles and it doesn’t need to be soft or pliable, I have the technique. I’m giddy with power.

To finish this session I did a quick series of experiments with composimold, some only 2 cm across. As a base, thinking to add some texture (that is the focus of this project!) I used a sanding sheet. Unfortunately some of the white surface adhered to the following and clouds the results. Although small and quick, I think the results are significant enough to dignify them with individual sample numbers.

Sample p3-17

Sample p3-17

Sample p3-17

Glitter added to composimold. It’s suspended quite evenly through the depth of the small piece. That could vary with how hot and runny the composimold was and also the size (and therefore cooling time) of the mold. I’d like to take this further with threads, perhaps break the surface.

Sample p3-18

Sample p3-18 - Top and bottom views

Sample p3-18 – Top and bottom views

A small amount of acrylic ink added to composimold. The reverse side shows the texture and flecks of white from the sandpaper surface used. There’s a slight cloudiness, which could be caused by the type of ink. The ink colour is called “indigo”, and there’s clearly an impact from the original colour of the composimold. In the right application even limited control over colour and transparency could be very useful, although for my main set of samples I like the simplicity and clarity of limited colour – the focus is kept on the patterning of the molding.

Sample p3-19

Sample p3-19

Sample p3-19

This sample used a transparent emerald green ink with the composimold. The colour is clearer, although still affected by the base. Other than the marginally improved clarity it doesn’t add anything additional to the previous sample, but it provides a base case for the next sample.

Sample p3-20

Sample p3-20

Sample p3-20

The same ink as in sample p3-19 was used, but this time as drops on the surface of the cooling composimold. The first, central drop spread nicely on the surface but is smoothly integrated. The later drops have a strange surface tension rippling effect. The composimold would have been cooler and perhaps have reached its final shape when the drops were added, which could have caused the slight rippling. As always, potentially useful in the right application, although probably enormously difficult to predict and maybe unreliable over larger areas.

Sample p3-21

Sample p3-21

Sample p3-21

Scraps of set, coloured composimold from mixing the last few samples were added to a new, warm pool. The scraps slightly melted in and have become an integral part of the whole. Getting back to molding and casting, the diamond shape on the left was from the palette knife used for mixing, so this could be a way of joining smaller molds into a larger piece. Probably just putting two pieces side by side and either applying a little heat or dribbling on some more composimold would work. There is a lightness to the 3D effect. This sample opens up all sorts of decorative possibilities.

Sample p3-22

Sample p3-22

Sample p3-22

Sample p3-22 Reverse side

Sample p3-22 Reverse side

The final sample in this set has a lot of glitter added, thinking back to Patrick Delorey’s work (15-August-2015). The composimold holds it well and I can rub the surface without lifting any glitter. Possibly it could hold more, but I would need to resoften the composimold. It cooled quickly with the additional material. Once set it retains its normal pliable properties.

Although the curving shape is clear, the glitter disguises the detailed texture resulting from pressing the cooling mix into the neck of a sumo mandarin. A comparison to the glossy reverse side makes this clearer. This leads to the observation that I was able to use the composimold like a putty, pressing it into the surface of the mandarin. I don’t recall any problem with tackiness or fingerprints – is that because of focus, temperature or the additive? Perhaps a non-glittery additive would show the molding more clearly.

Next steps
I’ve been writing up these notes over a couple of days following the work session, and more and more possibilities for further exploration keep suggesting themselves. In addition to ideas mentioned with the samples themselves:

  • I should try forming the polymorph and composimold separately, then using heat on the polymorph edge to melt the composimold around it.
  • Make use of the lower temp of composimold. Set it in place first, maybe varying thickness or not across the full space, then push in warm polymorph. I still won’t get 3D movement, but it might be more integrated.
  • Hot wire stitch – work with the material
  • I should go back to my earlier sketching inspired by Louise Nevelson’s work. This is both for the larger scale development of patterning, but also the thin cut foam I used for stamping. Can I create a mold using that?
  • Thinking of a larger scale combination of molds and patterning, even if I don’t have time and materials to do it I could sketch or collage ideas.
  • Could I then use the collage, take a mold of it?
  • I haven’t (yet) gone further with brushing on composimold (sample p3-11 26-August-2015). Can I get more complex / larger / 3D molds that way? Say part of a computer case (Given that’s a theme)
  • Similar to previous point, brush composimold on computer parts – create a “shadow” mold, referring back to the shrink-wrap shadow mug of sample p2-70 (22-July-2015). I’d say use the same mug, but I broke that and it’s still in its wrapping.
  • Stitch into photo/print/collage of molds – Cretan in different densities in gold coloured thread, also textured white… or golden fishing line, lots of texture and knots. But reminiscent of computer connections
  • My tutor mentioned Anthony Caro in her last feedback. I’m not familiar with his work but a quick look tells me I need to learn more. Relevant here because of building up shapes and patterning.
  • I need to review samples from assignments 1 and 2, mine those for more possibilities.

I have three (non-consecutive) days left in my schedule for this project. I note as a positive that my automatic response was that some reflection and sketching time is vital in developing and choosing the ideas to attempt. So day one will be that.

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

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