My previous session (8-April-2015) gave some basic familiarity with the idea of fusing layers of plastic to create a material suitable for stitching or other uses. Time to go a bit further.
Sample p1-25. Three layers of carrier bag, 1 layer fruit bag mesh, 1 layer clear polythene (perhaps – I really don’t know my plastics.) Very roughly 16 x 21 cm
Nice gridded texture. Polythene on front worked well – forms a seal, holds things in. I like the combination of bag pattern and mesh.
Minor distortion in mesh. Can I take advantage of that?
Sample p1-26. The same layer sequence, in an improvised anchoring system.
Some distortion of grid. Might be able to get more with an assistant to hold things.
Good “frill” effect at the end. Some distortion of the base – it will be interesting to see if the bond holds over time.
I can image a form of clothing -say a skirt, with frill and openness at the hemline.
Sample p1-27. Bubble wrap (quite small, thin bubbles) sandwiched between single sheets of carrier bag.
The bubble wrap has been hanging around a while and must have been more popped than I realised. I only heard one pop while ironing – thought it was more pressure than heat – but there is definitely a spacing in the pattern embossed on the surface. Could something be done with that?
The other side:
You might be able to see some cracking in the white of the plastic. It seems to be cosmetic only. Heat? Stretching as the bubble expanded?
Sample p1-28. I found some fresh bubble wrap and pierced some holes (dots of colour to make it clearer).
Hmm – did that without thinking which side will show best. The more bubbly side is up in the photo.
A single layer of bag either side – black so my dots wouldn’t show.
Not good definition on this side.
The photo is tricky, but there is definitely contrast in texture on the other side – unfortunately the writing is mirrored!
A closeup to show the contrast, which I think is very effective.
Sample p1-29. A different approach to texture. I have a plastic grid, which I’ll protect with baking paper. Then a rather crispy carrier bag with spots (to go with the square grid) and four layers of the standard carrier bag.
The flaw in the plan soon became obvious! I couldn’t iron both sides and keep the grid in place.
A metal grid would be a better idea, carrying the heat through.
As it was –
Sample p1-30. Going back to a previous idea.
This time a hessian grid – quite soft and open, from a garden supplies store. A thin pink plastic one side (I think it was a hotel laundry bag) and two layers of carrier bag on the other.
Interesting things happened while ironing!
Some nice embossing on the carrier bag side. I’d like to try distorting the grid of that open weave. The other side –
Basically no adhesion of the plastic, which distorted and went lacey in an intriguing way.
Sample p1-31. Following up the weave distortion idea, I cut a new piece of hessian and pulled it around.
I chose two layers of carrier bag on one side, one on the other to see if the embossing differs.
Marginally less disappointing (a vanishingly small margin!)
Backlighting helps. Colour in the plastic could be good too.
Sample p1-32. Returning to that thin pink plastic, I decided to pre-shrink it. (I haven’t been keeping track of dimensions and shrinkage, as it seemed pretty uniform for everything else, but the cutting mat is shown here)
Not promising, but for the sake of the experiment I kept going, with a single layer of clear polythene each side.
Not easy to back light well, but this could actually have promise! Flat on the table it was very drab.
Sample p1-33. More trapping in polythene. A test of thicker materials some – game counters.
The day is getting old so I decided to push a bit harder – counters, feathers and rubber bands between single sheets of thin polythene.
It looks a bit like a bad shower curtain, but it survived!
Sample p1-34. For this I have to backtrack to work done at the beginning of the day, when I was collecting plastics together.
I wanted to make a woven mat of plastic filament to trap between plastic layers. Experimenting with short lengths I realised the filament was too inflexible and too set in a slight curve to manage. I tried pre-shaping parts, using the 3D pen. This is back to accordion pleats, introducing flexibility of a sort.
It might look a bit crazy, but I am an absolute believer in this. Not the detail, but the overall idea of using the knowledge and skills and techniques from one area and trying to apply them in another. I think that’s the way to develop one’s own work – bring all of your history to bear on the present, not to stifle things but to take them further, in your own direction.
Plus look at the surface distortion! Can I stabilise, perhaps add a surface skin to this?
I picked out the supports and wriggled things around.
Not flat, not hugely 3D. I love the way it’s hard to follow a line – a combination of order and chaos – but I also wonder about mixing colours.
Surely I can “trap” this somehow.
It intrigues me.
After consideration, I decided another colour would make the structure clearer.
At the end of the day I brought out this weaving and ironed it between 1 layer of white carrier bag and 1 layer clear polythene.
Another idea that “needs more development”. It stabilised things, but flattened them. No point in that!
(Sidetrack) Sample p1-35. Disappointed, it was time for something completely different.
I went back to the crumpling exercise, using baking paper.
Can I record that in plastic?
Not that way. The hot filament just skidded across the paper, not taking on any of the distortion.
Sidetrack Sample p1-36. Could I support the filament better? I filled a tray with damp sand and pressed the paper shape into it.
The hot filament still came out too quickly, even at the slowest setting, and didn’t settle into the shapes in the sand.
It was a plastic shape, but didn’t tell the story of the paper.
Sidetrack Sample p1-37. Another attempt in the sand tray. I tried to build up a base grid of contour lines, which later lines could attach to and stay in place.
Not what I was looking for.
Total sidetrack. I needed to build skill with the 3D pen.
Lots of “not what I was looking for”.
Youtube had the answer. I had been extruding the hot filament constantly. It was going all over the place while still pliable and not holding shapes as I wanted. On the videos people just paused the stream briefly while a short section of filament cooled. A little more, then pause. and again. A lot more control.
I made myself a name plate.
All of this was build 3D, not flat and assembled. It was either attached to the worksurface or I was holding the work in my hand. I only worked on the flat when putting the letters together.
Not a thing of beauty, not well controlled – but with at least some control, and Proper (in my mind) 3D.
Sidetrack Sample p1-38. Back to crumpled paper.
The lines follow the contours of the paper. I am ridiculously pleased.
It’s wobbly and a bit frail, but it was what I was looking for.
Why am I so pleased?
Because I didn’t find it easy but I got there.
Because it’s a fairly accurate record. It goes back to my attraction to traces, memories, shadows.
Because I see it as a new form of sketchbook work (and I need to do more of that). I felt just as conscious and observant and absorbed by the shape as I would be if sketching on paper. I learnt more about the shape, examining it closely as I moved the pen around.
I like the thing itself. There’s a squiggly, lacey, delicate air about it. It almost looks beaded. The shape is interesting and the shadows cast add complexity.
T1-MMT-P1-p3-e1 Fusing plastic – second session
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 1: Surface Distortion
Project 3: Heating and fusing
Exercise 1: Fusing plastic