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