Archive for September, 2015



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

T1-MMT-P3-p1 Sketchbook, refocus

At the end of my last post there were so many ideas bubbling around. Impossible to follow every path – I wanted to spend my available time carefully. So I stepped away a moment.

Sample p2-18

Sample p2-18

In her recent feedback my tutor mentioned Henry Moore and Anthony Caro when commenting on sample p2-18. I did some research on Moore during Understanding Western Art (15-December-2013, 22-June-2014, and briefly 13-July-2014)). Some points noted then that could be relevant: Moore’s interest in working with volumes and forms, drapery used to create more tension in a work, the space between – a piecing opening or separate elements with the space between as integral a part of the whole as the solid forms.

I’m not familiar with Anthony Caro’s work (although I remember spending a little time with Duccio variations no.7 at the National Gallery of Australia (link)). So I started my sketchbook time by looking at a couple of examples.

sketch 20150903a - looking at Anthony Caro Emma Dipper

sketch 20150903a – looking at Anthony Caro’s Emma Dipper

Sample p2-74

Sample p2-74

Emma Dipper is in The Tate (http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/caro-emma-dipper-t03455). I was taken by a remark in the display caption “The opening to the left creates the sense of an internal space, which is penetrated and activated by the tubes and rods.” I thought of sample p2-74, where I wanted to create, to claim, space.

The sketch above is crayon on A3 kraft paper. It focuses on the internal space of the work rather than the metal. I would love to be able to move around this work, experience it in three dimensions. From this angle it is a wonderful, dynamic shape.

sketch_20150903b - looking at Anthony Caro's Paper sculpture no.4 'Big White'

sketch_20150903b – looking at Anthony Caro’s Paper sculpture no.4 ‘Big White’

The sketch above is based on Paper sculpture no.4 ‘Big White’, held at the National Gallery of Australia (link). The sketch helped me concentrate on observation and is useful as a reminder of that, but is not successful standalone. It is static and flat, the marks clumsy and unvaried.

sketch_20150903f

sketch_20150903f

The base is from a salvaged gift bag, a heavy off-white paper, crushed and highlighted in gold paint. I worked in acrylic paints, a fine black liner, and a little in pastel crayons trying to rescue the image. It was also a good reminder of a technique that would have been helpful in Assignment 1, highlighting the effect of crumpling paper. Inset is a quick version using crumpled brown grocer’s bag paper and diluted gesso.

sketch_20150903c

sketch_20150903c – Collage based on sample p3-9


Sample p3-9

Sample p3-9

Above is a collage on cardboard (A3), using various tissue and other papers and modpodge. It is a scaled-up version of some of the fine marks created by the computer card, such as in sample p3-9 (26-August-2015).
malevich_02The final result reminds me of Kasimir Malevich – House under construction in the National Gallery of Australia (http://artsearch.nga.gov.au/Detail.cfm?IRN=36797), and some sketchbook investigation I did in December 2012 (link).

In the collage there is energy and interest and an overall balance. It is an interpretation, based on observation of the sample but bringing something new.

I originally intended to develop the collage further with higher relief elements, and to use it to take a mold in composimold. Possibly that will happen later.

sketch_20150903d - based on sample p3-12

sketch_20150903d – based on sample p3-12

Sample p3-12 Join failed

Sample p3-12 Join failed

Conte pastel crayons on A3 cartridge paper are a fairly literal observation of sample p3-12 (1-September-2015). The different colours reflect the various shadows created. Fast and free, there is good movement and I think the different natures and weights of the two materials can be seen. Working on it made me more aware of the strong, rigid, geometric structure of the shapes that have been captured in the organic forms of the molds.

sketch_20150903e - manipulation of photo of sample p3-8

sketch_20150903e – manipulation of photo of sample p3-8

Sample p3-8 side detail

Sample p3-8 side detail

Sample p3-8 (26-August-2015) has some wonderful lines and edges. I used gimp to manipulate one of the photographs. A section has been isolated and presented above. There were other areas of interest, but too much wonderful detail was lost if scaled down.

While working on this I have gone back through past sample in Parts 1 and 2. I have a list of possibilities for development of my molding sampling- which I am confident will change as work progresses.

Digressions within digressions
While looking at past posts mentioning Moore I came across my photo of Robert Barnstone’s work once removed (13-June-2014). At that time I was researching recent figure sculptures. Made of cast glass, the work is clearly relevant to my current assignment.

Robert Barnstone once removed  cast glass

Robert Barnstone
once removed
cast glass

There are more photos and lots of other interesting work on Barnstone’s website. The link here is specifically to the once removed information: http://rbarnstone2.wix.com/art-architecture#!once-removed-2014-bondi-/c317. As well as using a relevant technique, the language and content in the written material is interesting given recent tutor feedback. There is descriptive information, background on the meaning of the work, a brief mention of material, and quite a lot of space given to the impact on the viewer. “The feet recall bodies from the past that are connected to the sea or toward us the viewers.” “We feel the figures collectively in a backdrop of dreamscape.” “…raising an awareness in us all of how frail our existence may be.” In this blog / student log “I”, the first person form, is always in use. I write about my reaction and thoughts and leave it open for the reader to have their thoughts. Barnstone has taken a step back as creator and shares the viewers’ experience. There is a confidence in the strength of the work, confidence that it will deliver the intended message, confidence that others share his perspective.

Without getting too lost in the spiral of digressions, a brief mention of the clear areas of similarity between once removed and Susan Benarcik’s installation Loosing Touch with Reality http://susanbenarcik.com/project/loosing-touch-with-reality/. There’s a looser link to Dadang Christanto’s Heads from the North (http://artsearch.nga.gov.au/Detail.cfm?IRN=131001).

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

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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