Part 3, Stages 2&3, Project 1 – Moulding from a surface – development projects

20 February 2017

Stages 2&3, Project 1 – Moulding from a surface – development projects

Having completed the experimental stage of project 1, the course notes required that I start to think about how of if any of the techniques from parts 1 or 2 could be used to embellish or manipulate my samples; the aim being to decide on two or three ideas to develop, creating a new subgroup of samples. My thought process is recorded in pages 33-53 of my sketchbook.

I started by reviewing all my samples from parts one and two, including surface distortion, joining and wrapping. There were many ideas which I could have developed. The ones which I chose to explore in my sketchbook were:


  1. The encased object (p.33) – reference to project 1, sample 28
  2. The wrapped object (p.42) – reference to project 1, sample 36
  3. The squashed object (p.46) – I felt that this exploration was more suited to casting internal space and I used it as inspiration for project 2, sample 6.
  4. The displayed object (p.47) – reference to project 1, samples 48 and 50
  5. The punctured cushion (p.53) – reference to project 2, sample 1. This idea is also related to casting an internal space
Of the three ideas which were related to casting a moulded surface, the two which I felt had the most potential for development were “The encased object” and “The displayed object”
The encased object:
I started by taking sample 28 and thinking about how I might make cut-outs (linking to Part 1, project 2, exercise 4 “cutting holes”). I thought about how I might bridge these holes, or alternatively join pieces of my papier mache balloon surface. I also recalled a sample where I had used stitching decoratively, to emphasise an opening.
 Above: sample 28
SAMPLES 62-64: Gap sewn with dressmakers’ cotton and fishing line
I used two different methods of joining which I had used previously in Part 2 (Project 1, exrecise 1, sample 6 and Project 1, exercise 5, sample 6). The samples on the left are worked with dressmakers’ cotton, the one of the right with fishing line. From left to right they are sample 62, 63 and 64.
The two samples on the left are interesting because of the contrast between the fine threads, which both divide and emphasise the negative space made by the tears. It reminded me of the work of Erin Tucker’s series Frayed and Fragile” (2013), which I mentioned on page 41 of me sketchbook. Sample 62 (left), uses a “mattress suture” which has the effect of emphasising the opening as well as joining the two pieces. Sample 63 (middle) is more “untidy” because of the knots and loose ends.
I don’t feel that sample 64 (right) was successful because the fishing line tore and puckered the papier mache shell, whilst being difficult to tie. Visually, it was not very obvious, so didn’t have the effect of emphasising or accentuating the negative space.
SAMPLES 65-67: Gap sewn with bookbinders’ thread 
For this series of samples, I explored the use of a thick waxy thread to sew with different stitches across different sized and shaped holes.
Sample 65 (left) is worked in “mattress suture” stitch, sample 66 (middle) is worked in twisted insertion stitch (taken from Part 2, project 1, exercise 2, sample 8), and sample 67 (right has been worked in individual knots (after Part 2, project 1, exercise 1, sample 6).
I actually favour the stronger definition given by the thicker waxy bookbinders’ thread compared with the dressmakers’ cotton, although I prefer the red colour of the cotton. For future sampling, I would look for a red bookbinders’ thread. 
Out of the three samples, I think that sample 65 works best because of the contrast between the even, regular stitching and the torn edge and irregular shape of the negative space. I don’t like the regular rectangular shape of the hole in sample 67, although the stitch might work with a torn edge (further experimentation would be needed). The sample which is least appealing is sample 66. It reminds me of shoe lacing, which doesn’t fit the narrative of my line of enquiry (biological tissue and surgical repair).
SAMPLES 68-69: Emphasising the edges of the gap with bookbinders’ thread
Using sample 11 of Part 1, project 5, exercise 2, and the work of artists Linda Dacey as my inspiration, I worked two further samples to explore using thread to empahise the edges of a gap rather than joining.
Sample 68 (left), is worked with a simple running stitch around the edge, whereas sample 69 (right) uses intentionally irregular oversewing. Whilst these samples are quire effective, I prefer sample 65 and the knotting from sample 67, so these are the ideas which I would take for ward for further development.
Sketchbook work/where next?
I made some sketches of the stitched samples and did a series of experiments with my papier mache surface to add different textures. These are detailed in pages 40-41 of my sketchbook.
The next stage of sampling would be to make some more spheres from papier mache and to explore different shaped gaps bridged by stitching. I would probably make two of three spheres using the knowledge gained about surface treatments from my sketchbook work (page 41), using my favourite stitch types from samples 62-69. this would allow me to narrow down and resolve my sampling towards a finished piece.
The displayed object:
Thinking about some of my latex and silicon samples which looked like Biological specimens, I considered how these might be mounted or displayed. There was read across from some of the joining samples from part 2 (project 1, exercise 3, samples 7 and 8), and also some of my wrapping techniques from part 2, project 2 (sample 2). See sketchbook, pages 47-49.
The samples I considered from part 3 were: project 1, sample 50:
And project 1, sample 48:
My preference was for sample 50, but I felt that it was too fragile for the idea which I had in mind. I didn’t have time to purchase the thixotropic agent which would have made the silicone more viscous and allowed a more robust sample to be made, so I decided to develop sample 48 from project 1. 
I wanted to make the sample look more like biological tissue, so my plan was to make a similar family of samples, colouring the latex with red acrylic paint. Because the natural latex had turned an unattractive brown colour over time (see below), I decided to mix a creamy/white colour paint in with the first layer instead of leaving the latex natural.

SAMPLES 70: Paint-tinted latex moulds of aluminium pie dishes
Unfortunately the result didn’t turn out as I’d anticipated. The initial layer of latex (which I tinted with cream acrylic paint) was opaque, and as a consequence, very little of the red colour showed through (see below):
SAMPLES 71: Paint-tinted latex moulds of aluminium pie dishes

In this group of samples, I reverted to using an un-tinted first layer of latex, but I made sure it was thinner (so that it wouldn’t have the same impact when it goes brown). These were better, but I still felt that they were a little uninspiring and not very “biological”.

SAMPLES 72: Paint-tinted latex moulds of aluminium pie dishes
I decided to scrunch up my pie dishes more, as I had done in sample 48. This time I tinted the initial layer of latex with cream acrylic paint, but I made sure that I applied it only selectively, so that it didn’t cover the whole surface. I then added subsequent layers of latex tinted with red acrylic. The photo below shows work in progress:
I was much happier with the finished samples (see below):
I like the raggedness of them and the fact that the pattern is less recognisable as a pie dish. I decided to proceed and stitch these pieces to my cork background. I used a similar arrangement to sample 7 from Part 2, project 1, exercise 3 (see below):
My finished sample is shown below:
I chose cork because I wanted to make reference to the mounting of a biological specimen for dissection. In hindsight, I don’t think there is enough colour contrast between the latex moulding. I could/should have explored alternatives before making my sample.
I made a sketch of the sample and then some other sketches of different arrangements.
The exercise helped me focus on which features of the sample I liked (the negative spaces and the divisions made by the stitching and the sides of the cork), and which I did not (the juxta-positioned colours of the sample and the cork). Of the different layouts I sketched, I like the one used in the sample (the first of the four sketches), and the final one (picture frame-like).
Sketchbook work/where next?
I was unsure after working this sample whether there was enough potential to develop it further. I like the geometry of the the sample and the stitching but not the colour and texture combination. So I if I did decide to develop the sample, I would concentrate on finding an alternative to cork which gave a better colour and textural contrast with the latex. Perhaps stainless steel or aluminium? Perhaps plain coloured ceramic? With this in mind, I placed some embossing foil behind the sample and photographed it again:
It became slightly more engaging, and more so when I framed the photo to view only part of the sample:
I also viewed the sample lit from behind with an angle-poise lamp (see photos below):
And in close up:
The translucent property of the latex is now revealed, and by framing get the image so only part s visible, it has all of a sudden become more dramatic and intriguing. An alternative way to achieve similar results might be to increase in scale (so it resembles a specimen viewed under a microscope). So, this is the direction I would take the sampling if I were to develop it. I would also consider silicone rubber for my mouldings as an alternative to latex because of the discolouration which occurs in natural latex over time.



2 thoughts on “Part 3, Stages 2&3, Project 1 – Moulding from a surface – development projects

  1. Nicola Dawn

    This is a great post. I like the way you cropped the sample to make it more engaging. The little red ‘pie dish’ pieces remind me of sea anemones. I like your ideas about how it could be developed further.



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