Archive for the 'MMT1 – exhibitions workshops etc' Category

T1-MMT GROUP exchange Exhibition and Symposium

GROUP exchange is the 2nd Tamworth Textile Triennial, currently on tour including recently at UTS (art.uts.edu.au/index.php/exhibitions/group-exchange-2nd-tamworth-textile-triennial/)

I found myself looking at the exhibition and the individual works through a number of lenses – themes and questions developed by the curator; the individual artworks and artists; extra information and threads from the half day symposium; recent exercises in my OCA course; and my personal responses and the impact of all of these.

Cecilia Heffer, the curator, presented a number of themes within the exhibition, the catalogue and the symposium.

  • Collaboration, with other artists, with materials, with the environment, with community…
  • Textile thinking or the textile approach. Is this different to other disciplines? What can be found in an inter-disciplinary approach?
  • Textile expertise – dedication to particular techniques or the increasingly common mixed approach.
  • Poetry – flights of imagination, or more literally with a number of exhibits which related to texts.
  • Kath Inglis  Mineral Nation (2014) PVC, silver

    Kath Inglis
    Mineral Nation
    (2014) PVC, silver

    Heffer deliberately questioned? challenged? the notion of “textiles”. Is Kath Inglis’ coloured hand cut and carved Polyvinyl Chloride a textile? There are some looped (stitched) connections formed with sterling silver. Does that change your response? I think it is a little provocative, a discussion starter. It extends the meaning of “textile” beyond common use, and of course that’s how language develops and changes. Is it a useful change, providing us with new insights? If you believe boundaries between disciplines are blurring then less distinct, less descriptive/prescriptive meanings could be useful. If there is blurring will “textiles” be a useful term at all, or will it be subsumed into something else? Such as “mixed media”.

    I’ve chosen a few works which seem particularly relevant to my current development, interests and studies.

    Lorna Murray Making Space 2014 Detail, inset full view

    Lorna Murray
    Making Space
    2014
    Detail, inset full view


    Lorna Murray Making Space detail 2014

    Lorna Murray
    Making Space detail
    2014

    Lorna Murray invited us into the studio and identity of a textile artist. Ephemeral, throwaway materials were transformed in a quirky and delightful way. Wood was carved into traditional textile tools. Colourful cocktail umbrellas were deconstructed and became spools of thread, or stitched into a faceted fabric that stretched across the work bench and into a roll. Fresh from my folding experiments I itched to create new structures with those triangular segments. Murray’s work celebrated the traditional in a very modern way.

    Jemima Parker undefined objects 2014

    Jemima Parker
    undefined objects
    2014


    Jemima Parker undefined objects 2014

    Jemima Parker
    undefined objects detail
    2014

    Jemima Parker’s work undefined objects at first glance may seem very close to some of the surface distortion I have been exploring with OCA. There is pleating and with individual items strong dimensionality. Her statement references the art / fashion boundaries, garment and body adornment, functionality. However I didn’t find it intriguing. Perhaps it was the rather static placement on the walls, bland lighting and limited colours evenly distributed. Somehow surface distortion became flat. The glimpse of Anitia Larkin’s The breath between us around the corner, tempted me to pass on swiftly.

    Mandy Gunn Centro-polis 2014

    Mandy Gunn
    Centro-polis
    2014


    Mandy Gunn

    Mandy Gunn
    Centro-polis detail
    2014

    I’ve mentioned Mandy Gunn’s work in a previous post (7-May-2015) when I was cutting and layering corrugated cardboard. Gunn’s work uses recycled shopping bags on cardboard construction.
    8 shaft colour & weave

    8 shaft colour & weave

    This work references weaving, reminding me of a colour and weave sampler from the past (8-November-2008).
    This linking of textiles, textile sensibilities, with mixed media illustrates the power of discounting traditional disciplinary boundaries. There’s also a modern nod to concerns about recycling, consumerism (all those shopping bags) and collaboration (in the sourcing of materials).

    Gillian Lavery Pranayama (detail, reverse) 2014

    Gillian Lavery
    Pranayama (detail, reverse)
    2014


    Above to the left is a detail of the front stitching of Pranayama, a work by Gillian Lavery. On the right a sneaked view of the back.

    This was a pool of stillness in the exhibition. A length of light silk, slightly swaying in the breeze of air-conditioning and passing viewers. Nearby was a small screen showing a looped stop-motion video of the work as it was being made.

    Each day for a year Lavery measured a length of black cotton thread, reaching from mouth to belly button and back. She stitched in a spiral, focusing on her breathing, her thoughts sometimes wandering, until an alarm sounded at ten minutes. The remaining thread was pulled through the back and left. Cotton weights stitch length varied as the breath of ten minutes each day was experienced and observed, as the stitches spiraled outwards.

    I wanted to see the back, those hanging threads of time expired. I gently blew to move the fabric away from the wall so I could see and take my photograph.

    I think this is one of the most pure textile works I have ever seen. An idea. A length of fabric. Threads. A needle and embroidery hoop. A needlewoman. Time. Breath.

    It’s a seductive work. A dangerous one. It makes me wonder about what we’re all doing. Racing around, crossing boundaries, seeking new materials and processes and combinations, telling ourselves “cross disciplinary designers” can discover what dedicated in depth study can miss. We favour the unfamiliar, the exotic, “originality”. We see fads, fashions, and the perversely different for the sake of being different. We want to do everything – and do it in a way its never been done before.

    That last paragraph is quite misleading and unfair. Her website bio states “Gillian Lavery’s art practice is a process-based drawing practice informed by her background in textile art.” (http://www.gillianlavery.com/bio/). Crumbling barriers open new paths. I just want to be sure to take a breath every now and then.

    T1-MMT GROUP exchange Exhibition and Symposium
    Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
    Part 1: Surface Distortion

    T1-MMT-P1 – Stepping back for a wider view

    When busy exploring and producing samples I generally tend to think about possibilities in a very direct way. How can I incorporate this material in my future work? What does this effect suggest to me? Could I get this result in a textile? Lately I’ve noticed a few examples of less direct interpretations.

    http://www.theguardian.com/hp-sprout/video/shaping-design-felix-conran is an upbeat ad for the HP sprout workstation featuring young designer Felix Conran. Conran brings paper back into what could be a paper-free design process.
    He crumples the paper, scans it with the integrated hardware and software, refines with 3D-modelling software, prints out A and B side moulds on a 3D printer, then presses layers of laminate in it to create a desk tray. The paper crumpling is a direct match to course exercises, and the 3D-modelling and printing in my personal extension explorations.

    Hexagon, extruded, tweaked

    Hexagon, extruded, tweaked

    Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka used an accidental discovery in 3D-modelling software to create a range of seating for Issey Miyake’s stores (see http://www.dezeen.com/2015/04/23/tokujin-yoshioka-3d-software-hexagonal-forms-stools-issey-miyake-stores-milan-2015/. The image on the right is my variant, following the general steps of hexagon surface extruded and top rotated, drawn using 123D Design (free software from Autodesk). I think this shows the possibility of the playful, exploratory approach to surface distortion in the OCA course, using modelling software.

    tafe_01The street facade of the TAFE Institute in Railway Square Sydney may be a less successful child of paper folding or design software. It’s certainly currently less resolved. Peering through those faceted windows, the interior fitout seems pretty much complete.

    tafe_02At this stage the windows themselves seem a problem needing a solution – something more longterm than the roll of paper towels visible inside on the windowsill to the right. When/if they figure this out, there is promise of some interesting reflections of the mixed architecture in the area.

    tafe_03Wandering off topic, I can’t tell what is planned for the awning area. The old arch framing the entryway is still peeling paint and has nothing to do with the shiny new triangular geometry. Perhaps the whole area will be cladded, tucked neatly away.

    The examples above show possible indirect use of surface distortion play. They are all design exercises, rather than the more artistic, conceptual and thoughtful responses that draw me and to which I aspire.

    Ariana Boussard-Reifel’s work Between the Lines in one sense could be an extension of project 2, exercise 4, cutting holes. Instead it is a deeply meaningful and very relevant work. See art.arianaboussardreifel.com/Between-the-Lines and www.speakingvolumes.net/arianaboussardreifel.html. The work is a response to the racial segregation espoused by white seprematists, it is a plea for unification, for diversity, for the necessity of all to create a meaningful whole.

    I’ve mentioned Austin Kleon before in the context of course reading and his book Steal like an artist (15-January-2015). Kleon is poet who makes works by using permanent markers to redact newspaper articles (austinkleon.com/newspaperblackout/ and newspaperblackout.com/). It’s the everyday transformed and given new meaning – both words and space.

    I’ve tended to seen cutouts as revealing, showing what is underneath. They can also be concealing – not a window, but a void, meaning removed. Or transforming, creating new meaning. Some intriguing ideas. I hadn’t felt drawn to the cutting holes exercise, but now think I will make it my next exploration.

    Moving to a different but related current chain of thought – mixed media and specific disciplines. In the past textile people have agonised over art and craft and feeling excluded or disrepected by fine arts and galleries. Now there’s mixed media and old boundaries are vanishing. I attended a textiles symposium at UTS a couple of weeks back (the post on that is in progress). One speaker, in the UK until recently, spoke of the hoardes of fine arts students trying to get into textiles classes, or practically stalking the textile technicians to get info on processes and techniques. Cecilia Heffer, the organiser of the symposium and curator of the second Tamworth Textile Triennial (art.uts.edu.au/index.php/exhibitions/group-exchange-2nd-tamworth-textile-triennial/), was particularly interested in cross-disciplinary approaches and whether there is a textile way of thinking that brings something fresh and special to other disciplines. Daniel Widrig has spoken about designers blurring boundaries, borrowing tools and technologies (http://www.dezeen.com/2014/03/18/daniel-widrig-3d-printing-design-software-advances/). Alison Carlier has written about a “Drawing Attitude” that goes beyond graphite to be an approach to anything – like the body movements making lines in the air with hot glass (alisoncarlier.com/artwork/3255569_The_Drawing_Attitude_transcriptions_part.html).

    The old compartments have dissolved, anything goes. It’s increasingly rare to see longterm dedication, deep exploration of a particular sub-discipline. Artists watch a few videos on youtube, and with fresh eyes and a lack of expectations and traditional restrictions create new insights. Yet in this free-for-all there are still allegiances, adherences to a core. I like that idea. In the rush for the new, the exotic (so dependent on the individual’s background and experience), you can end up with a lot of noisy sameness, with fads and fashions.

    Kath Inglis  Mineral Nation (2014) PVC, silver

    Kath Inglis
    Mineral Nation
    (2014) PVC, silver

    Language can end up with a lot of sameness and loss of meaning in this race too. Heffer deliberately challenges the boundaries of “textile”, including for example carved pvc by Kath Inglis. I guess I’m ready to learn, but I don’t understand this push. It reminds me of the New Weave exhibition at Object Gallery last year (
    http://object.com.au/exhibitions-events/entry/new_weave/). I didn’t write about it at the time, because I was so disappointed. I wanted to see weave taken in new directions. I can see the link to say Jenni Kemarre Martiniello’s glass work that was shown, which referred to the shapes and lines of traditional woven fish baskets (see the video interview at the link given above). “Weave” is such a strong word, so many resonances and variations of meaning and metaphors in our language – yes, respond to that. But some works seemed included at random, and the titles and artists’ statements no help. Evolving, deepening, nuancing, responding … lots of ways to push boundaries. Broadening until nothing is differentiated, anything can be included – what’s the point? There’s no meaning left. Why don’t we just call everything “stuff”. A new exhibition: “Stuff, some but not all related to textiles by reason of material, process, technique, shape, intent, metaphor, artist background or way of thinking”.

    I’m ranting. Time to get back to work.

    T1-MMT-P1 – Stepping back for a wider view
    Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
    Part 1: Surface Distortion

    T1-MMT Polymorph sidetrack

    More sidetracking – Polymorph pellets

    Mat from madmat3dprinting.com.au sent me some polymorph pellets and flexible filament to try. I started with the polymorph pellets. These are thermoplastic that melts at around 60° C and can be moulded by hand.

    Sidetrack sample p1-5 Can I make a multi-coloured plastic lump, roll it out and shape or emboss it?

    Sidetrack p1-5 Materials

    Sidetrack p1-5 Materials


    Polymorph beads and tubs ready to go.
    Sidetrack p1-5 In dyed hot water

    Sidetrack p1-5 In dyed hot water


    Beads in tubs with hot water. Some drops of old silk dyes in a couple.
    Sidetrack p1-5 Result

    Sidetrack p1-5 Result


    Basically the colour was unsuccessful. The colour was squeezed out with the water. There is a slight trace of the pink visible, but I suspect that is more trace “foreign matter” remaining in the plastic (just as there are smears of dirt in the plain sample – the garage is partially open, so always dirty.)

    Sidetrack sample p1-6. Can I remelt and remould plastic no longer in beads?

    Sidetrack p1-6 Remelted in hot water

    Sidetrack p1-6 Remelted in hot water


    One part back in hot water. It went transparent, suggesting it had remelted.
    I quickly kneaded it and rolled it flat with a rolling pin, working quickly as it was already turning white. I pressed in a plastic shape (originally the side of a peg basket, I think)
    Sidetrack p1-6 Embossed

    Sidetrack p1-6 Embossed


    The embossing worked. I think my palm-print is in it – not visible, but the roughness can be felt. The plastic is slightly flexible.
    Sidetrack p1-6 Backlit

    Sidetrack p1-6 Backlit


    Backlit the pattern is very clear.

    Sidetrack sample p1-7.
    Can I print with it?

    Sidetrack p1-7

    Sidetrack p1-7


    I rolled on acrylic paint using a foam roller, and tried to print onto cartridge paper.

    The first two prints (on the left) weren’t successful. The first had too much water in the roller. Both the first two were on a hard surface.
    The third and fourth were printed on a softer surface and are more successful, but I think I can see the influence of my palm print.

    Sidetrack sample p1-8
    Can I clean the paint off and reuse the plastic?

    Sidetrack p1-8 Cleaned and re-embossed

    Sidetrack p1-8 Cleaned


    A toothbrush and cold water got rid of most of the paint. I might have got more with soap and warm (not hot!) water, but I wasn’t too fastidious – I’m curious as to how much colour sticks around after reuse.
    This time I remelted, kneaded and rolled, then back into the water for a soften. Then out, roll and emboss – pressing with the rolling pin rather than my hands.

    The plastic is beginning to look rather grubby and there are some bubbles in it. Air? Water? A reaction to impurities?

    Sidetrack p1-8 Prints

    Sidetrack p1-8 Prints


    On the left I pressed down by hand. On the right I tried to keep the pressure more even, by putting a piece of 3 or 4 mm perspex on top and pressing on that. Although not at all “clean” I rather like the one on the right – it seems to have some character.

    Sidetrack sample p1-9
    Can I use the original object and combine the prints?

    Sidetrack p1-9 Overprinted

    Sidetrack p1-9 Overprinted


    The first attempt, top right, I didn’t think about where I’d put the paint on the stamp. Quite a lively, interesting result. I like the unintended inclusion of the second underprint (the one to the left). It all seems to work together.

    Lower down is the second overprint. I thought much more about placement, and the underprinting was my favourite. I find the result a little dull. Too predictable?

    Sidetrack p1-9 Stocktake

    Sidetrack p1-9 Stocktake


    I now have a rather grubby stamp and two other pieces – one faintly pink, the other faintly yellow.

    Sidetrack sample p1-10 I want to try some inclusions, and make a lacey, fluttery shape.

    Sidetrack p1-10 Inclusions

    Sidetrack p1-10 Inclusions


    A rather amusing interlude later, and I have a flower-like shape firmly attached to some pvc pipe, and little bits of colourful foil all over my work area.
    Sidetrack p1-10 Top view

    Sidetrack p1-10 Top view


    The inclusions work quite nicely (although the leftovers are going into a secure bin as soon as I can track them down).

    I was trying to mould around the pipe and it was a nasty shock when it wouldn’t come loose. Still, this is very useful information. The molten pellets bond very firmly to pvc.

    Sidetrack p1-10 Backlit

    Sidetrack p1-10 Backlit


    Backlit looks good, and there is a clear sense of layers in the inclusions. I think this has a lot of promise – always being careful of the application (no hot water anywhere, and probably not any heat).

    Sidetrack sample p1-11. Can I colour the polymorph plastic using disperse dyes?
    I ironed the back of the relatively flat embossed piece with a paper of disperse dye – between baking paper to protect iron and surface.

    Sidetrack p1-11 Plastic still warm with disperse dye

    Sidetrack p1-11 Plastic still warm with disperse dye


    It looked great when still warm. Above it is still on the paper and the view is actually through the warm plastic to the back.
    Sidetrack p1-11 Dyed plastic

    Sidetrack p1-11 Dyed plastic


    Once cool the paper was removed with just a little patience. The baking paper hadn’t stuck at all when ironing.
    Sidetrack p1-11 Remelting plastic

    Sidetrack p1-11 Remelting plastic


    A little colour floated away in hot water, but most stayed.
    Sidetrack p1-11 Cool remoulded plastic

    Sidetrack p1-11 Cool remoulded plastic


    Strong colour remained in the moulded, cooled plastic!
    Sidetrack p1-11 Backlit - striations visible

    Sidetrack p1-11 Backlit – striations visible


    The backlit view shows striations where the colour isn’t completely mixed through. Rather a nice flower petal effect.

    Sidetrack sample p1-12. Will adding another colour lead to colour mixing?

    Sidetrack p1-12 More colour - still warm

    Sidetrack p1-12 More colour – still warm


    It’s hard to judge what’s happening with colour when the plastic is still warm and transparent.
    Sidetrack p1-12 Stuck paper

    Sidetrack p1-12 Stuck paper


    Patience failed, and some disperse dye paper was left stuck to the plastic.
    Sidetrack p1-12 Cleaned

    Sidetrack p1-12 Cleaned


    It was easy to rub off the paper in cold water.
    I had softened and partly flattened the plastic before ironing with the dye, but the surface was still rough and uptake of colour uneven.
    Sidetrack p1-12 Part mixed

    Sidetrack p1-12 Part mixed


    Part-mixed the plastic shows a lot of colour variation. Of particular interest are some thicker edge parts which remained pink and didn’t soften a lot when remelting. This suggests all sorts of possibilities for colour variation.
    Sidetrack p1-12 Result

    Sidetrack p1-12 Result


    The final, cooled result was a rich purple – the mix of the pink and dark blue dyes added.
    Being able to add strong colour like this really opens the polymorph to all sorts of applications, especially with the ease and flexibility of mixing colours.

    Sidetrack sample p1-13. I decided to return to earlier crumpling experiments with ribs – see for example sample p1-13 (30-March-2015). Very happy with the result.

    Sidetrack p1-13 Ribs

    Sidetrack p1-13 Ribs


    Sidetrack p1-13 Reverse

    Sidetrack p1-13 Reverse


    Sidetrack p1-13 Backlit

    Sidetrack p1-13 Backlit

    Unfortunately this session was cut short. Some ideas to continue with next time :
    * Adding powdered colour. Not my dyes – bad / hazardous to use in powdered form. Other pigments.
    * inclusions – How far can you go? What happens as it loses cohesion or structural integrity?
    * Apply heat in other ways than immersion in hot water? Can one work more precisely?
    * Tendency to catch to itself – avoid by wide / flat container
    * adherence to other plastics -especially ABS filament?
    * Can I write with 3D pen on to /from it?
    * how would it react to scraps of filament included in it?
    * would a stainless steel bar work better than a wooden rolling pin?
    * can one cut/ pierce the hardened plastic – hot needle; awl; various knives?
    * if it adheres to carrier plastic, can I smear it on to use as shaping support?
    * I wanted to get lacey effects, but it pulls more like toffee. Accept this and go for gothic? Fight it -say use tools (awl?) while moulding?

    T1-MMT 3D pen and kinetic sand sidetrack

    Nola (http://inchtextiles.blogspot.com.au/) suggested Kinetic Sand for mould / support making. The website describes Kinetic Sand as “98% sand and 2% Magic”, the Magic being a synthetic polymer which the Product Statement reveals to be polydimethylsiloxane, a silicone with unusual flow properties.

    sand sidetrack

    sand sidetrack

    Fascinating just to handle. It packs like wet sand, but flows like … I can’t describe it. Check the video on their blog http://www.kineticsand.com.au/blogs/news/9080183-kinetic-sand-australia-video.
    Sidetrack sample p1-1. I started with a simple shape – a kitchen bowl.
    Sidetrack p1-1 Mould

    Sidetrack p1-1 Mould


    Traced over with the 3D pen…
    Sidetrack p1-1 with plastic

    Sidetrack p1-1 with plastic


    Lifted it off the mould…
    Sidetrack p1-1 unmoulded

    Sidetrack p1-1 unmoulded


    And embellished.
    Sidetrack p1-1 Result

    Sidetrack p1-1 Result


    Structural integrity is very poor, but a reasonable proof of concept.
    I also like the colour – it looks like pulled sugar. A little more sturdy and it could make an amusing bowl for lollies.
    Sidetrack sample p1-2. What about a more solid shape?
    I rolled smooth some kinetic sand, and pressed in a spring clip that was lying nearby.
    Sidetrack p1-2 Impression

    Sidetrack p1-2 Impression


    Tricky at the start, but a result of some sort, with the impression filled with wriggles of plastic.
    Sidetrack p1-2 Filled

    Sidetrack p1-2 Filled


    It came out cleanly – a few extra indents in the sand, suggested I pressed too much at the beginning.
    Sidetrack p1-2 Impression after filling

    Sidetrack p1-2 Impression after filling


    Sidetrack p1-2 Comparison

    Sidetrack p1-2 Comparison


    Not an exciting example, but another world of opportunities has opened.
    One oddity possibly of interest for specific needs – a short length of colour mixing in the nozzle when changing filaments.
    Sidetrack p1 Colour mixing

    Sidetrack p1 Colour mixing


    You don’t get much length and it would be a bit of a fiddle changing the filament, but perhaps an ombre effect could be useful sometime. Or I might want a small amount of a particular colour I don’t have.
    Other ways of colour mixing?
    Sidetrack sample p1-3. An imprint of today’s earring (itself claimed to be made from old silver cutlery).
    Sidetrack p1-3 Impression

    Sidetrack p1-3 Impression


    Bits of colour pressed in – snippets of plastic from earlier experiments. (Sorry the photo is rotated. I thought it would fit the screen better)
    Sidetrack p1-3 With inclusions

    Sidetrack p1-3 With inclusions


    The T-pin is to keep a hole for connection to a potential ear-wire.
    Sidetrack p1-3 Result

    Sidetrack p1-3 Result


    The earring came out cleanly, the colour fragments well attached, but the hole flawed.
    Sidetrack p1-3 Flaw before and after

    Sidetrack p1-3 Flaw before and after


    The fix turned out to be easy.
    Sidetrack p1-3 Sideview

    Sidetrack p1-3 Sideview


    It’s very light, but feels solid. I think this is a greet way to make beads and dangles.
    Or I could make shapes relevant to a particular theme in a work. Perhaps work at making it smoother. Or else a series of more or less wriggles, or more or less complete shape, or different colours…
    Sidetrack sample p1-4. Can I create a 3d shape, go over it entirely with filament, and extract the sand?
    Sidetrack p1-4 With Plastic, and small insert showing initial mould

    Sidetrack p1-4 With Plastic, and small insert showing initial mould


    Drawing on the shape was awkward at first, but one could build skills.
    Next was getting the sand out.
    Sidetrack p1-4 Removing sand

    Sidetrack p1-4 Removing sand


    It took a few minutes, but I now have a somewhat fragile filigree ball. I could add more decoration, say some extra snippets of colour, but didn’t feel I’d learn anything extra from that.
    While this was successful in the sense of doing what I set out to, I don’t think it’s the best way of achieving the objective. It also wouldn’t work for more complex shapes.
    I think depending on the project you need a mix of working on the flat; freehand 3D; over a mould; into a mould; creating as a whole; joining pieces… I really like this pen, and the Kinetic Sand is a great addition to the toolbox.

    T1-MMT Fantastic Plastic

    Fantastic Plastic: product design + consumer culture by Susan Mossman is one of the course textbooks. It gives a broad overview of the manufacture and use of plastics, from natural plastics used for many centuries (for example shellac and rubber), through semi-synthetic plastics (vulcanite – rubber hardened using sulphur), and the ongoing explosion of invention of new plastics and new uses.

    computer wire, neoprene, whipper snipper

    computer wire, neoprene, whipper snipper

    neoprene and fishing line

    neoprene and fishing line

    Apart from novelty experiments I’ve generally avoided plastics in my textile work (the examples on the right are from A Creative Approach 21-October-2012 and after a basket weaving workshop 15-August-2013). I’ve an underlying prejudice that plastics are cheap, nasty, don’t last (stretch or go brittle), pollute – and just aren’t in the competition with silk and wool and linen…

    Mossman’s book addresses the cheap and short-lived labels – it’s a matter of selecting the right plastic for the task. Trickier given the same material can be given multiple names and take multiple forms.

    As part of learning and challenging myself, I recently went to a 3D printing workshop with tutor Mat Danic (see 15-March-2015). Last week I went to Makers Place to pick up my 3D object printed following the class.

    Makers Place Photo:  Chris Bamborough

    Makers Place
    Photo: Chris Bamborough

    Makers Place in Leichardt (Sydney) is very exciting. It’s not for profit, volunteer run, and focused on creating, collaborating and innovating. It provides a space, lots of equipment, opportunities to learn, teach, experiment, share – and it’s up to members where they take it.

    Makers Place Photo: Chris Bamborough

    Makers Place
    Photo: Chris Bamborough

    There are multiple 3D printers, woodwork tools, overlocker, paper-making stuff, robotics discussions, interesting materials that were waste products from local businesses… There are plans for purchasing a CNC router and laser cutter. They have more plans for desktop plastic recycling – see their blog here, and especially watch the video or follow the link to Precious Plastic. I so much want to play with a recycled plastic extrusion machine.

    shell_gridThis is a design schematic I sent to Mat, with the explanation “The central diamond (based on a drawing of a shell) would be solid plastic, no holes. It is relatively thin and embossed with the shell image so light shines through – like what lithophane produces, I think.
    In the corner triangles the green represents holes. I’m hoping to be able to felt through these. When I finish the embossed centre shell should be like a stained glass window, with the solid felt surrounding it like a wall.” It was meant to be a test for connection of felt to plastic.
    My own suggested designs based on past college work were too complex for starter work so Mat found a freely shared file for me. He also printed the grid pieces separately, concerned about size and breakage in transit.
    (Apologies for changes in tense below – it’s copied from my “live” Evernotes)
    3dplastic_01

    Mat made the comment that laser cutting might be more suitable for a design like this in the future. I’m really not taking advantage of the 3D. True. Darn.
    The first step is to connect the pieces.- a little daunting, as some areas appear quite fragile.
    3dplastic_02
    Acetone is meant to “glue” the plastic together, so I started with that, testing on two short lengths of filament. It doesn’t feel entirely solid, and keeping a good connection as it “sets” could be awkward. Mat suggested soaking in acetone (I just wiped each side a few times using a cottonbud), but that sounded messy and smelly. He also suggested super glue, but I had a different thing in mind – “gluing” using my new 3 D pen.
    3dplastic_03
    On the left above a join using acetone. On the right using the pen.
    Messy!
    I was going to play with the pen later, but will change order.
    3dplastic_04
    I’m not sure what it is, but it’s definitely 3D, coming up almost 10 cm from the base.
    A look at the pen itself.
    3dplastic_05
    It’s a Myriwell 3D printing pen, purchased from Mat. The pen is light (plastic of course). It plugs into mains power. A plastic filament feeds through – grey here, but in many other colours (red, black,…). There are buttons to move the filament forward and back, a slide speed control, plus indicator lights for power and heat.
    3D doodling:
    3dplastic_06
    I decided to acetone “glue” my pieces together, and weld / solder using the pen where necessary – but I couldn’t get the acetone to work at all. Perhaps because it wasn’t pure acetone, or wiping not soaking, or more likely I think I wasn’t making a firm connection as it dried. The pieces didn’t fit flatly together. So back to “soldering” with the pen, using a blu tack jig to hold pieces in place.
    3dplastic_07
    It’s all a bit messy, but holding together solidly enough for the next step (I hope!).
    I choose to invoke my artistic license and deem the “mess” the foam of the waves washing on to a shelly beach.
    3dplastic_08
    Here’s the lovely translucence, which I want to surround with denser felt.
    3dplastic_09
    I pulled out some greeny-blue colours of wool top that I’d dyed and carded years ago. I added in some bits of silk hanky and silk waste – for texture and shine, and particularly some white to echo that “wave foam”.
    3dplastic_10
    Concerned about shrinkage and putting stress on the plastic, I decided to make a sheet of thin prefelt.
    Wool and silk laid out -around 55 x 6O cm. It’s a long time since I’ve done much felting and I started to feel a bit nervous and tentative – but tried to lighten up. This is just an experiment, after all.
    3dplastic_11
    For small, light, indoors feltmaking I like to use olive oil soap and not much water. I could keep all the work on my cutting mat and not have to clear the whole table.
    The plan
    feltplan
    Prefelt cut into 8 strips. A little loose wool place on the grid areas of the plastic. Four strips of prefelt (shown in faint acqua on the diagram) laid around the medallion, underneath the grid.
    3dplastic_12
    Four strips of prefelt (shown in dark blue on the diagram) laid around the medallion, on top of the grid.
    3dplastic_13
    Then lots and lots of gentle rubbing and trying to persuade the wool to form around the central shape without going on to it, to mesh through the grid, not to shrink in a way that distorted the plastic…
    I stopped when the plastic started creaking.
    After drying overnight, superficially it looks OK.
    3dplastic_16
    The important back-lit shot.
    3dplastic_17
    and since I think the colours work well, a half-way view – still a little extra light coming through.
    3dplastic_18
    However there are fundamental problems.
    3dplastic_15
    The felt is not fitting well around the centre, and while some fibres migrated through the grids it wasn’t sufficient to hold.
    The plastic is definitely not happy. There is some slight distortion of the thin centre and the rest – I’ve already mentioned the creaking. It’s definitely under stress.
    There’s a lot of plastic wasted between the layers of felt. It also causes distortion in the surface.
    As already mentioned, it’s not a good exploitation of 3D. I actually started thinking of curved and embossed planes, possible working as a lamp shade, but went flat to keep the experiment simple.
    The whole idea of shrinking felt around rigid plastic is flawed. It would be more interesting in a softer plastic that distorted.
    Basically, the outcome may have potential but I chose the wrong technique. It would be better to make a finished piece of felt, cut a hole, and play with attachment systems.

    Turquoise Bay

    Turquoise Bay

    On the plus side, I like my colour choices. I was thinking of Turquoise Bay in WA which I visited last year (26-August-2014). It works for me.
    I also like the combination of plastic and felt – including the “foam” at the boundary.
    I can see ways of taking this forward, and for now I’m going to ignore them. It’s time to get back to college exercises.

    Reference
    Mossman, S. (2008) Fantastic Plastic: product design + consumer culture London: Black Dog Publishing

    Natural dye day

    I spent yesterday learning natural dyeing with friend and fellow OCA student Claire (her blog). Claire has done a lot with natural dyes in the past. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid them.

    Briefly, I’ve felt my synthetic dyes give great results and a lot of control and reliability – in colour mixing and fastness (wash fast, rub fast, light fast…). “Natural” dyes are a gamble every time. I don’t accept all of the hype of “natural” – what mordants are used, how is the waste disposed of, how long did that lichen used take to grow on the rock…? I live in a city – is my impact on our environment significantly less if I change the dyes I occasionally use? Still, even if “natural” isn’t better in the misty-eyed holier-than-thou way espoused by some, it can certainly give some beautiful results.

    It was a great day.

    natural_dye_01We start with a pile of fresh plant material. Banksias and gum trees around our homes received a minor pruning, less than a moderate breeze would bring down. A few weeds were pulled out by the roots. In one pot we put bruised eucalpytus leaves, in the other banksia. Steep in water for a while, bring to the boil, add selected mordant. Claire put iron sulphate (darkens) with the gum leaves and copper sulphate (brightens) with the banksia.

    We used a mix of fabrics and papers, preparing them with ties, clamps and leaf inserts. Fabrics were in the pot for around two hours, paper we aimed at one (but got a bit distracted). We unwrapped and rinsed the fabrics straight away, the paper we unfolded and laid them flat as best we could. I put my fabrics through a gentle machine wash, hung to dry overnight, then ironed some.

    1. Silk habotai, around 8 mm. Wrapped around pvc pipe (no overlapping), tied with string and pushed down. No plant matter included. In eucalyptus and iron pot.


    The colouring has a very attractive smokey effect. I like the simplicity – monochromatic, variations on a line. I haven’t ironed it (yet?) – just enjoying the texture at the moment. I was thinking of the surface distortion projects while preparing it – especially accordion pleats and linear crumpling (yet to be posted).
    A good reminder that less is (can be!) more.

    2. Silk chiffon- folded in half, plant material on, sides folded in, accordion fold, tied between perspex squares. In eucalyptus and iron pot.


    Virtually all the patterning is from the clamping and tying. In the detail there is a shadow of green – possibly it will discolour or fade over time. The tie lines are particularly effective, but best of all is when the fabric is moving and drifting – smoke and clouds.

    3. Tussah silk. Banksia leaves were placed in a zig-zag down the centre half of the fabric. The sides were folded in, creating two layers of fabric overall. I wanted to fold in half again to create four folds, which proved extremely difficult. The leaves kept shifting. The end placement wasn’t as formal as I intended. Then accordion fold, between perspex, and clamped. In eucalyptus and iron pot.


    The dark lines of framing are clearer on one side, the imprint of the leaves on the other. I really like the range of colour and texture in the leaf imprints. The tussah silk has a rougher texture but still some shine, which works well with this natural look. This is lovely to hold and fold. A lot of variety and interest.

    natural_dye_164. Testing swatch – banksia leaves and copper sulphate pot. I was quite slow preparing my earlier pieces of fabric, and only did some quick knotting of a random swatch of silk for the second pot.
    It’s pictured here with sample 1. A much softer colour. I think much less colour was leached out of the harder leaves, and of course the mordant is different.

    5. Paper. I used 200 gsm canson watercolour paper, torn in half, then folded in half, and interleaved with baking paper, with plant material between every layer. We painted egg on the leaves, with the idea that this would enhance the colour transfer (this is sometimes done for cotton or cellulose fabrics, not protein-based like wool and silk). Claire and I helped each other clamp the lumpy, unwieldy piles.


    A few lessons learned.
    * Perspex is a bad choice in boiling pots. There was some distortion in the fabric parcels, but on the paper, being so uneven in level, was extreme.
    * Generally Claire leaves paper in the pot around one hour, as it gets too soft. We got distracted, talking and looking at things in her studio, and left it much longer.
    * Egg protein may help dyeing cloth, but it acts like glue on paper.

    Unfolding the paper and removing the leaves was a challenge, but the results were often lovely. A great range of marks and a surprising range of colours. At the moment I’m thinking of binding the watercolour pages into a little book and using the baking pages in collage. I know Claire has done some more dyeing today, and I’m looking forward to seeing her finished results and what she does next.

    Exhibition – Chuck Close: Prints, process and collaboration

    It’s late to write about this exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (link). It closed a week or two ago, I went to a talk by curator Terrie Sultan last November and have lost my notes… still, a couple of thoughts I want to capture.

    chuck_close_01Building up an image
    It was fascinating to see the process of printing exposed.

    This is Self-Portrait/Scribble/Etching Portfolio 2000 – 12 plate proofs, 12 progressive proofs, and the final work. Meticulous method. The slightest marks (and spaces) are significant in the final.
    chuck_close_02

    chuck_close_03Collaboration
    On the left of the image is an oil pointing by Close, Emma (2000). On the right, Emma (2002), a 113-colour hand printed ukiyo-e woodcut, printer Yasu Shibata.

    Throughout his career Close has collaborated with others, often printers. He listens to people, inspires them, will trust them, will take risks, will push them.

    A larger image of the print and some of the plates is below.
    chuck_close_05

    chuck_close_06Breadth and Depth
    A wide range of techniques had been used in the various works. Close’s oil paintings, plus mezzotint, silkscreen, aquatint (spitbite), ukiyo-e prints, pulp paper, hand stamp – and here, fingerprints.

    Leslie/Fingerprint (1986) is direct gravure, a type of etching. To quote the exhibition signage: “Close fingerprinted [Leslie’s] face on a translucent sheet of Mylar. That image was then applied to a photosensitsed surface, bitten with acid, and printed. Shades of light and dark were controlled by how much pressure the artist applied with his fingertips”. Again the collaboration, but also the inventiveness and openness.

    The “depth” is how much can be found in front-on closeups of faces. Often the same faces used again and again using different techniques. But the depth isn’t in exploring the psychology or personality of the apparent subject.

    In a large image (almost 1.5 m high) of a woman’s face, the work seems to me more about the artist whose fingerprints form the image. Like many of the prints shown, this forcefully asserts the handmade in what could otherwise be perceived as a mechanical process of printing. It asserts the presence of the artist.

    chuck_close_07
    chuck_close_08Emotion
    Or rather, lack of emotion.

    On the right is Roy (2011), described as a jacquard tapestry. I’ve inserted a photo showing how large the work is, and how close we were able to get to it.

    I have expectations of textiles. To me cloth brings the potential for multiple associations, to be charged with emotion, to cry out to be touched … This work feels like an intellectual exercise – more that’s interesting, let’s see how far we can push the technology, let’s see how the image changes, how it responds to this different technique.

    Clearly viewers found it fascinating, drawn close to the work. I found it fascinating, but I don’t think it made me feel or see something new or unexpected emotionally. Feeling the lack has helped me think more about what I want/expect from textiles.
    chuck_close_09


    Instagram

    The 3 brothers afterwards.

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