Monthly Archives: March 2017

Assignment 3 – Reflective commentary

2 March 2017

 

Measurement against assessment criteria

I used the assessment criteria as the benchmark against which to make my critique. I also referred to the course aims and outcomes on page 5 of the notes.

 

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Most of the moulding and casting techniques were new to me, which is why I allowed extra time for this assignment. In particular, I went through a thorough process of researching each technique before I embarked on buying materials and making.

For project 1, I investigated seven different methods of moulding from a surface. I went well beyond the brief, both in terms of the number of techniques and the number of samples which I produced. As well as making simple moulds from a pattern, I also investigated a two-stage process, where I took a mould from a textured surface and then made a casting from the mould. This proved to be very fruitful.

For project 2, I confined myself to casting internal spaces with plaster of Paris, mostly because of workspace constraints. I found the material difficult to handle and despite several failures, my determination and perseverance paid off. Sample 6 – the cast of negative space between balloons, is a case in point; although my first attempt was disappointing, I believed strongly in the potential of the idea and persevered to make a second, successful cast. To achieve this, I had to think about what went wrong the first time, why it went wrong and how to problem solve and formulate a solution.

As well as techniques, the assessment criteria mentions observational skills, visual awareness, design and composition (course notes, page 11). Whilst recording sample outcomes in my blog, I have made reference to textural and tactile qualities, size and proportion and visual contrast. I have also used my sketchbook effectively for this assignment: After changing the approach in line with my tutors comments, it is now fully targeted towards the topic and I am using it as a tool for investigating and suggesting developments, as well as to record samples and gain a better understanding of their visual and compositional qualities. I have taken on board her suggestion to concentrate on aspects of each sample, rather than attempting to sketch the whole object. I have placed greater emphasis on using different media, and I have tried to be less representational in my analogies. For the first time, I have had the confidence to sketch directly into my book rather than gluing sketches into it. This has been liberating and empowering, allowing me to respond directly to ideas as they arise. Thinking about how I might improve my sketchbook, I should probably place even more emphasis on using it for sample development and perhaps reduce the number of sample photographs and replace them with observational sketches.

  

Outcome

I structured my sampling with a list of questions which helped me to assess their visual merits, potential and practical considerations. These included cost, easy of use, rigidity and durability, replication of the surface, and potential for subsequent working. The responses allowed me to make meaningful comparisons between different techniques and methodologies, and facilitated thinking about how samples could be used or developed. Making several samples using each technique broadened my understanding.

‘Outcome’, is also concerned with the application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, the conceptualisation of thoughts and the communication of ideas (course notes, page 11). In this respect, my revised approach to sketchbook keeping has been especially useful. Necessarily, textile practice is an iterative process of concept, test (sample), observe, evaluate, and revise. My sketchbook has helped me to look at my samples in the context of the work of other practitioners and suggest developments (apply knowledge). Through observational drawings, I have been able to focus on the features of my samples which are most important, helping me generating ideas and take them forward. I have also used my sketchbook to present ideas and variations (conceptualisation of thoughts and communication of ideas). Rebecca Fairley’s recent blog post (Fairley, 2017) confirmed this approach, which I feel is helping my sample development become more transparent. 

Deciding which direction to take a project is the stage which I find most difficult. Even with sketches and sampling, I often find it hard to make a selection, and sometimes feel that I have made the wrong choice. I am hoping that with the changes I have made to my sketchbook working, this process will become more straightforward.

 

Demonstration of creativity

This criterion looks for experimentation, invention and development of a personal voice (course notes, page 11).

I have certainly been experimental and playful in this assignment and in particular, I have tried to make use of everyday objects, such as moulding from a crushed can (project 1, sample 17) and making impressions in clay with a clothes peg and spoon handles to make press moulds (project 1, samples 59 and 60).

I feel that the ‘sorting’ stage is becoming easier as I understand my preferences for geometry, colour, texture and techniques. The course notes recognise that sorting is an important part of creativity (page 7), and I feel that it is very much a means through which my personal creative voice can be expressed. Negative space, and the concept of inside and outside are beginning to have a greater influence the direction of my work, especially in this assignment, where the lack of surface finish has meant less emphasis on colour.

 

Context

I have continued with the format of my previous two assignments; completing a detailed piece of research into several artists relevant to the assignment in a dedicated blog post, whilst also making reference to particular pieces of relevant work as they arise in my sketchbook, and whilst recording sample outcomes. My tutor has commented that this approach is good, so I shall continue unless improvements are suggested.

Regarding critical thinking, I have been focusing on which elements make a piece of artwork visually engaging. I have come up with the following list (applied individually or combined).

  • Contrast
  • Tension
  • Rhythm
  • Drama 
I have tried to explicitly consider these when critiquing my samples and thinking about how they can be improved or developed, and I hope that this checklist will guide me in future.
 
 

References:

Fairley, R. (2016) The question of development. At: https://weareoca.com/textiles/the-question-of-development/ (Accessed 2 March 2017)

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Part 3, Stage 4 – Sorting

27 February 2017


Part 3, Stage 4 – Storting

Although I made more samples than the brief suggested, many were simply variations on the same technique, moulding different surfaces with ‘families’ of similar materials (for example the press mouldings which I made using different types of clay). This enabled be to understand the behaviour of the materials in different circumstances (i.e. to see which surface and material combinations gave the best results).


Project 1 – Moulding from a surface

I will briefly discuss the materials and methods from each category followed by the samples which I have selected as being my favourites or which have development potential.
 
Clay press:
 
I used air-drying clay, polymer clay and paperclay. Polymer clay was expensive, difficult to work and gave the worst results, so I would not choose to use it again. Although paperclay gave marginally better results than air-drying clay, it was much more expensive and it warped as it dried. My choice of which to use would depend on whether the warping was important to the final result and how much material I needed to use.
 
There were many patterns which gave great results and which I can imagine using in combination with other moulded surfaces or contrasting materials – from left to right, top row: sample 2c) Fruit netting/paperclay, sample 7a) Fern leaves, air-drying clay, sample 9a) homemade pattern from lego and acrylic paint shims. From left to right, bottom row: sample 12a) candleholder, sample 15a) textured knitting/paperclay
 
Curl_net.jpgFern__DAS.jpgShim__DAS.jpg
Candle.jpgKnitting_paperclay.jpg
 
However, there were three stand out samples: sample 16, knitted string and sample 18a) scored polystyrene meat tray because of their fabulous textures and amazing level of detail:
 
Paperclay_knitting.jpgAirdry_scratch.jpg
The last stand out sample appeals to me for a different reason. Sample 18a), crushed can is fascinating because by taking an impression (the negative), an item which is everyday and easily recognisable becomes exotic and intriguing (see below):
 
Crushed_can.jpg
 
 
Mouldable polymers (Softsculpt foam):

Making the samples helped me understand which relief surfaces made better impressions. The downside of this technique is that it is very size-limited (see discussions in stage 2&3). However, it’s flexibility and stitch-ability are a big plus, so I would use it if it were suited to my project.

The only samples which I felt came out really well were sample 18, metal beer bottle tops (below left) and sample 23, homemade paperclip print block (below right). It demonstrates that I would need to experiment to find suitable pattern materials before, which may limit the scope of use of this material.

Bottle_caps.jpgBlack_softsculpt.jpg
 
Papier mache:

The carton Pierre gave unique and interesting results. The mess, and multistage preparation was a downside, but because I like the results, I would use it if I had an application. 
 
My favourite pieces two pieces were sample 26, polystyrene meat tray (below left), and sample 27, Press mould of a child’s toy (below right).
 
Tray.jpgSpanner.jpg
 
Of these two, the one which excites me most is the polystyrene meat tray mould. It is the combination of the regular raised diamonds with the texture of the carton Pierre. The two viewed together provide an interesting contrast or small, delicate, repeating pattern and single focal object, and could form part of a larger piece.
 
 
I was surprised by the versatility of layered papier mache and in particular the semi-transparent results and different surface treatments. It is cheap, easy to use and gave some great results. Both samples I made were excellent, but the different properties and opportunities for development of the papier mache sphere (sample 28) interested me most (see below):
 
Transparent.jpg
 
This sample has appeal, because it suggests so many directions for development:
 
  • It is interesting when lit from behind, and could have an object placed inside it
  • It could be cut, torn and rejoined
  • The surface texture is wrinkled and interesting
  • Objects could be trapped between the papier mache layers to embellish the sample
For this reason, I decided to develop the sample. I did experiments with samples of the papier mache shell in my sketchbook, and some stitched samples which I mounted onto an A2 display card. I only had time to carry out preliminary investigations, which didn’t fully test my ideas. There is potential for this line of enquiry to be resolved further in a variety of directions and I think it would make an interesting project.
 
 
Formable fabric:

I tried wetted leather, ModRoc, starched fabric and rice paper. Starched fabric gave disappointing results and I was underwhelmed by my wetted leather samples. ModRoc was straightforward to use and versatile, giving excellent results providing a textured (woven) surface was acceptable. I was surprised that rice paper was formable, and was drawn to the delicacy of the sample that I produced. I would need to do more work with this material to assess it properly, but it has potential for stitching because of it’s fabric-like quality.
 
The stand out samples were 36, ModRoc with bubble wrap (below top) and 40, ModRoc and modelling balloons (below bottom)
 
Side_1.jpgPosture2.jpg
 
I’m not sure just yet how I might use the moulded bubble wrap surface, however the ModRoc-covered modelling balloons present an interesting configurable sculpture in their own right. The only aspect about this sample I did not like was the surface finish, which I would have preferred to be smooth. This is something I could explore through development, perhaps by adding layers of paint or varnish.
 
 
Latex:
 
I was initially very excited by several of my latex samples, particularly sample 44, chard leaf (below left), and sample 48, latex mould taken from an aluminium pie dish (below right)
 
Finished.jpgSecond.jpg
 
It was on this basis that I decided to develop sample 48. After some sketchbook work, additional moulding and stitching, I produced sample 72.
 
Behind1.jpg
 
I noticed that over time, the natural latex in samples 44 and 48 discoloured and they became much less attractive. I was also disappointed with sample 72, both because of how the mouldings had turned out and because they didn’t contrast well with the cork. For these reasons I would probably not choose to develop this sample further.
 
 
 
Silicone rubber:
 
I love the results I obtained with silicone rubber. However, cost meant that I confined myself to one colour, and because I neglected to buy any thixotropic agent, I had some technical difficulties with “run-off”. However, the results were sufficiently encouraging that I would certainly consider experimenting with this material further and using it again.
 
Three samples which stood out and which I love for their delicacy and detail are: sample 51, chard leaf (below top) and sample 48, mould taken from bubble wraped sheet (below middle) and sample 54 (below bottom)
 
Thumb.jpgMembrane.jpgString_closeup.jpg
 
Plaster of Paris cast in a clay press mould:
 
This technique surprised me. Although a two stage process and messy, the results were excellent, with lots of detail and it being possible to mould complex surfaces with undercutting. 
 
My favourite pieces on their own were samples 59, pegs and 60, spoon handle. I like them, because as negative impressions of everyday objects (rather like sample 18a) of project 1), they make intriguing relief surfaces. 
 
Side_on.jpgSide_spoon.jpg
 
My next stage of development would be to explore different relief-making tools and to make new castings. There would be an option to combine these surfaces into a panel (similar to Paolozzi’s reliefs), or to use them in 3D sculptures (a technique also successfully used by Paolozzi). I would also like to think about joining them with contrasting flexible materials and investigate whether this might provide fruitful outcomes.
 
There is a huge potential for using kiln-dried clay as a mould for silicone instead of air-drying clay. Air-drying clay did tent to stick to the silicone, and because of the clay’s it’s rigidity, it was not possible to mould from a pattern with undercutting (project 1, sample 54). In this respect kiln-drying clay has the promise of being much more versatile and successful as a mould material.
 
 

Project 2 – Casting an internal space of a vessel

I confined myself to casting with plaster of Paris, and despite plenty of messy disasters, I also achieved some excellent results. The samples which I would consider developing further are my fabric internal surfaces: sample 4, knitted fabric (below left) and sample 5 burlap-lined bag (below right). I can imagine experimenting with lining different shaped bags and vessels with these fabrics, but also trying out new fibres textures.

Knitted.jpgBurlap_plaste_cast.jpg

I also loved the results of my Henry Moore inspired casts of the internal surface of a balloon – samples 2a) and b)

Sbv3.jpgSav3.jpg

These foetal-like samples could be enhanced by experimenting with different surface finishes and mounting orientations. They could also be used as a source of inspiration for other work, as they are in themselves a rich source of inspiration for texture, shape and pattern. Because they require a very strong balloon (i.e. a punch balloon) to cast them, there was a tendency for the shape of samples 2a) and 2b) to be constrained, making them appear similar in form. Looking for alternative stretchy moulding vessels might allow me to experiment with longer, narrower shapes or to work on a larger scale. However, this would be difficult in my current environment.

My favourite sample by far (and the most original) was my casting of the negative space between balloons (sample 6).

Casty1.jpg

Technically, it was extremely challenging and not very practical to produce and work on this sample in a domestic setting. If I had a dedicated workshop then I would be wanting to explore different negative spaces, using different items as “positives” and different containers. It’s a very exciting line of enquiry; the shapes and breakthrough areas are complex. To a certain extent the shapes are repetitive but at the same time un-predictable. There are interesting edges with missing “corners” and “edge sections” which have not been cast in plaster because of the presence of the balloons. Intriguing, is that once the balloons have been removed the viewer has no way of knowing what the objects were which produced the spaces.

 

Summary:


My favourite ideas for development are:

  • Project 1, sample 28 – papier mache balloon
  • Project 2, sample 6 – plaster cast of negative spaces (not really suitable for a domestic environment, but the idea is one of my strongest and has a huge potential for variation and development)

 

If I were looking to extend my techniques:

  • Experiment with different relief patterns in kiln-fired clay and take plaster or silicone casts from these.

 

If I wanted to refine samples which I already like:

  • Experiment with surface finishes for project 1, sample 40 – ModRoc cast balloons 
  • Experiment with making negative impressions of everyday objects in air-drying or paperclay – extending on the work of project 1, sample 18.
  • Continue with variations of kiln-fired clay moulds, taking plaster casts from different surfaces and reliefs.

Links suggested by my tutor in Part 2 feedback

25 February 2017

 

In her review of Assignment 2, my tutor made suggestions of artists and designers whose work was relevant to my interest in configurable artworks, constructed textiles and 3D structures.

I started by looking at the mobiles of Alexander Calder (Tate, n.d.) I could see the relationship with some of my samples joined with brass fasteners in particular Project 1, exercise 5, sample 10 (see below).

Three.jpg

It’s not that the piece closely resembles Calder’s mobiles in shape, or colour, rather that it shares a feeling of precarious poise and balance. There is a feeling that the piece might be transient, and that it could be disturbed by the breeze.

Other links were also concerned with configurable surfaces (Strozyk, 2013-16), (Smith, 2014a). Of these, I was particularly taken with a video of Martin Smith’s Rainbow (Smith, 2014b). The piece consists of a series of seven stainless steel frames, each of which is motorised and orientates at varying angles. Each of the panels contains many small coloured aluminium squares which flutter in response to air currents and create natural rhythms of movement across their surface. Although bold rainbow-colours, the piece also seems to emulate leaves on a tree through it’s movement. Because the aluminium pieces are shiny, there is reflection too, depending at what angle the light catches them. It reminds me of the play of light over the surface of water. This is a gentle piece which has a lot in common with the natural world.

The examples of constructed textiles and 3D structure chosen for me to look at included dynamic woven/gathered textiles (Pleun, n.d.), 3D lattices (Gwillim, n.d.a.), raised surfaces (Gwillim, n.d.b.) and the varied deconstruction, disrupt, reverse, reinvent ethos of the Envisions group (Schuurman, n.d.).

Gwillim’s 3D lattices (“systems” series) very much reminded me of Project 1, exercise 3, sample 3 (below).

Mult.jpg

His work made me consider that I could develop my samples in a similar way, by stacking them together to make a 3D shape. I also liked the way that the final piece of his “flow” series incorporated cut-outs, or “windows”, so that the raised surfaces was only revealed selected areas (Gwillim, n.d.b.) 

The endearing feature which appeals to me about all of these pieces is geometry. Suggesting process and conformity, it provide structure and pattern, however, I also feel that there is scope for it to be explored as a contrast to less will controlled elements, such as a loosely scribbled pattern. I will be considering these ideas as I go forward in this course and my textile practice.

 

References:

Gwillim, S. (n.d.a) Flow. At: http://skyegwillim.com/project1.html# (Accessed 2 March 2017)

Gwillim, S. (n.d.b.) Systems. At: http://skyegwillim.com/project2.html# (Accessed 2 March 2017)

Pleun, R. (n.d.) Structured textiles. At: http://www.robinpleun.com/#/structured-textiles/ (Accessed 2 March 2017)

Smith, M. (2014a) Rainbow (2014) At: http://www.smithautomata.co.uk/rainbow.html (Accessed 2 March 2017)

Smith, M. (2014b) Rainbow. [user generated content] Creat. Martin Smith. At: https://m.youtube.com/watch?ebc=ANyPxKr9sERWhnvPxWnLBrv0yTcwWja5Qsmbl2Jrn65WMOM2EF1XsYgIazq2uKtj3kkPYW3ZP_nrktCg7cp4M11jMr9MdY3x6Q&v=xZJEJYfhOIw(Accessed 7 March 2017)

Schuurman, S. (n.d.) Envisions group. At: http://sanneschuurman.com/portfolio_page/envisions (Accessed 2 March 2017)

Strozyk, E. (2013-16) Wooden carpet (2010) At: http://www.elisastrozyk.de/seite/woodencarpet.html (Accessed 2 March 2017)

Tate (n.d.) Art and artists: Alexander Calder, mobile c 1932. At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/calder-mobile-l01686 (Accessed 2 March 2017)

 

Part 3 – Stages 2&3, Project 2 – Casting the internal space of a vessel

22 February 2017

Stages 2&3, Project 2 – Casting the internal space
 
From my technical research, I ruled out the use of resins due to their toxicity and/or the need to use a degassing chamber (to which I do not have access).
 
Jesmoite was initially attractive, being available in many different finishes, however it is relatively expensive to buy and only available in opaques, so I ruled it out on that basis. Concrete (also opaque) appealed because of it’s surface texture and ubiquity as an architectural material. Gelatine/glycerine was attractive because of it’s non-toxicity and transparency. Similarly, glass wax. Silicone is probably the most versatile of the liquid casting materials being available in different hardnesses, finishes and transparencies. Plaster is cheap, and readily available. However, all these substances are liquids, which require a mould.  

I had initially intended to cast using the following materials:

  • Plaster of Paris (because of it’s cheapness, low toxicity and versatility)
  • Ciment fondu (because of it’s interesting texture, ability to capture detail and make small castings)
  • Glass wax (as an alternative to resin, because it is clear and can be used to encapsulate objects and it is much safer to use and handle)

Although I purchased some of each of these materials, I ran out of time, so decided to concentrate on different castings using just the plaster of Paris.

 

Plaster of Paris:

 
SAMPLE 1: Casting the inside of a sewn bag
 
Intrigued by a cast sample by fellow OCA student Nina O’Connor (O’Connor, 2016), I had already done some sketchbook work, thinking how I could relate this to my studies in Part 1, project 2, exercise 4, and how I might develop the idea to make it my own (see sketchbook page 53). These ideas, however had to be put on hold, because I experienced technical difficulties (as explained below):
 
The plastic bag shown below was marked up ready for stitching. The idea was that the squares would be stitched with a sewing machine to prevent plaster from running into these areas, and the resulting cast would be like a cushion with square holes or “windows”.
 
 
However, when I poured the liquid plaster into the bag, it ran through the stitching, both penetrating some of the squares which I had intended as voids, and also escaping from the sewn bottom of the bag. I was unprepared for this scenario, and the plaster went everywhere – it was a complete mess! Eventually, the plaster started to solidify, and some at least was retained inside the bag. 
 
When the plaster was solid and reasonably hard, I tried to remove the bag. Because of the penetration through the stitching and because of the thinness/fragility of the bridges, they all broke and I was left with two separate pieces of plaster (see below):
 
 
Despite not achieving the intended outcome, I quite like these two matching “pillars”, because they reflect the shape and creases in the bag. I like the proportions of them being the same length yet different widths and I can image joining them together with wire whilst leaving a gap in the middle (as shown in the way I have arranged them for this photo).
 
I also repeated the experiment using a heavy duty reusable plastic supermarket bag (see below):
 
The result was the same, with the plaster running straight through the sewing machine stitching. At this point, I looked back at Nina’s blog and realised that rather than using plaster of Paris, she had used an artex finishing plaster which “was coarser, and which mixed to a stiff consistency”. This explained why my castings had been unsuccessful; plaster of Paris was too fine-grained and runny to be continued in the casting pouch.
 
 
SAMPLE 2: Moulding the internal surface of a balloon
 
The method for these samples came from a series of detailed Youtube videos (Reynoldson, n.d.). I filled a punch balloon with plaster of Paris, using the methods for plaster mixing and balloon filling which were described in the videos. The creative part comes with tying or clamping to give the internal spaces interesting shapes.
 
Sample 2a)

 
The photograph above shows my first sample in progress, complete with clamps and elastic bands. In addition, I used an offcut of routed decking timber behind the clamp, which gave a striated impression in the area of contact (see below). An old pair of tights were used over the balloon to help give grip when clamping and tying.
 
 
The different types of ligature material and clamping gave unique shapes. It was possible to either make complete holes or round depressions depending how tightly the clamps were used.
 
The finished result reminded me very much of the sculptures of Henry Moore. I have referred to these in my sketchbook, together with reference to other artists (see pages 55-59). My sketchbook also includes a number of observational drawings, focussing on different features of the sculptures and using different media. 
 
Some photos of the sample in different configurations are shown below:
 
 
 
I chose not to finish my samples, although they could be sanded, the small air bubbles could be filled, and they could be painted or given other surface finishes, such as varnish or metallic leaf.
 
Sample 2b)
 
A similar sample to 2a), but using string and twine instead of rubber bands as ligatures, and using a grouting tool to make an impression. In the second photo the impression from the edge of the grouting tool can be clearly seen.
 
 
I like how samples 2a) and 2b) appear very different in character, with 2b) seeming much more anthropomorphic (perhaps foetal?). I’m sure that these could be developed further with interesting surface finishes and colour/paint effects.
 
 
SAMPLE 3: Cast of the inside of a freezer bag resting against a laundry basket
 
I simply poured the liquid plaster into a freezer bag, tied the top closed, then rested the sample against the side of a plastic laundry basket to make an impression of the surface as the plaster dried.
 
the finished result was much smoother than some of my other castings and the detail of the mesh of the laundry basket and the gusset of the bag were very well replicated (see below):
 
 

SAMPLE 4: Casting of a piece of knitted fabric
 
this was a piece of fabric from the jumper which I had used for sample 15 of project 1. The knitting contained a stocking stitch and cable sections.
 
First I placed the piece of knitting in a glass bowl (being aware that some plaster would penetrate through the fabric, I had lined the bowl with plastic sheet) – see below:
 
 
I poured the liquid plaster over the knitting and allowed it to just set. At this point I removed the sample from the bowl and peeled off the knitted fabric and plastic (had I left it until the plaster was completely set, it would have been impossible to remove).
 
I am really pleased with the finished sample. The impression of the textured knitted fabric is excellent, however there are some of the woollen fibres left embedded within the plaster. this may or may not be desirable, depending on he application.
 
 

SAMPLE 5: Cast of a burlap-lined bag
 
I used a strong metallic-plastic coffee bag for this sample, which I lined with a strip of burlap fabric (see below)
 
 
I chose this bag because it was stiff enough to stay upright when filled with plaster. I allowed extra burlap, so that I could tug at it to easily remove it after the plaster had just set.
 
The result was a highly textured block, which also included embedded fibres from the burlap (see below)
 
I like the contrast between the smooth edges of the cast which were in contact with the coffee bag and those areas which were lines with the burlap and which appear sack-like.
 
 
SAMPLE 6: Casting the negative space of a balloon-filled container
 
I came to this ideas as a result of some sketchbook work (see “the squashed object, p.46). I was interested in deformed shapes and negative spaces which result from cramming objects into a confined space. I realised that I couldn’t use air-filled balloons because they would float in liquid plaster, and I thought about the smaller, water-filled balloons which seemed ideal.
 
To make my mould, I took a square cake tin and placed as many water-filled balloon into the space as I could (see below). I lined the tin with some cling film to make removal of the plaster cast easier.
 
 
I then made up my liquid casting plaster and poured it into the negative spaces.
 
 
Once the plaster was just set, I attempted bursting the balloons (over a sink because they were water-filled!) and removing the cast from the tin. My first attempt was a disaster (see below):
 
 
The walls of the cast were very thin and fragile and the plaster was not sufficiently set. It made a horrible mess, but there was sufficient interest for me to try again. I repeated the whole procedure, except this time I left the plaster to set until it was much harder. Removing the balloons was easy, but it was almost impossible to get he cast out of the metal tin. Eventually I managed, but I realised that the tin had a rim which was preventing the cast from sliding out smoothly. In future the tin will need to be lined with inserts to make the sides straight!
 
After all my efforts, I was rewarded with a fabulous sample (see below):
 
 
There is an interesting honeycomb effect made by the negative space with breakthrough “holes” wherever the balloons have been touching. The shadows that the walls of plaster and these holes create is another point of interest. I have made a couple of observational sketches on page 54 of my sketchbook.
 
There is not as much deformity of the balloon shapes as I would have liked, and I thought that a way of getting round this in future might be to fill the balloons with polystyrene beads (similar to those used in bean-bags). These would make the balloons deformable, whilst being possible to remove once casting was complete.
 
 
SAMPLE 7: Moulding the internal surface of a fabric tube (old tights)
 
The samples which I had made using punch balloons (samples 2a) and 2b)), were similar in size and shape, and constrained by the roundness and size of the balloons. I considered using long balloons as an alternative, but I couldn’t find a funnel or bottle top small enough to fit into the balloon opening (to enable me to fill it with the liquid plaster). So the tights were the alternative that I came up with. I knew from my experience that at least some of the plaster was going to flow through the mesh of the fabric (I hoped some would be retained). 
 
I placed the tights into a plastic bag before filling, to collect overspills and plaster which seeped through the mesh. As the plaster started to dry and harden, I tied ligatures of string to shape the casting. The result was a series of four globular castings, reflecting the shapes of the ties and a subtle surface texture due to the mesh of the nylon (see below):
 
 
Although I attempted to removed the nylon mesh before the plaster was fully dry, it tended to tear and some of the fabric was left inside the crevices (see below):
 
 
It reminded me very much of the plaster casts of American artist Erin Tucker (Tucker, n.d.). I very much like the biological feel to these series of sculptures and the way that trapped fibres are evocative of hair.
 
 
References:

O’Connor, N. (2016) MMT Part 3 Molding & casting. Plaster, concrete alginate & modroc. PROJECT 2. At: https://ninasoconnor.wordpress.com/2016/07/02/mmt-part-3-molding-casting-plaster-concrete-alginate-modroc-project-2/ (Accessed 6 February 2017)
 
Reynoldson, T. (n.d.) Balloon cast plaster sculpture project, part 1 of 4. [user generated content] Creat. Reynoldson, T. At: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YCpOfVoQ5EQ (Accessed 22 February 2017)
 
Reynoldson, T. (n.d.) Balloon cast plaster sculpture project, part 2 of 4. [user generated content] Creat. Reynoldson, T. At: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BlPkfnBVCv0 (Accessed 22 February 2017)
 
Reynoldson, T. (n.d.) Balloon cast plaster sculpture project, part 3 of 4. [user generated content] Creat. Reynoldson, T. At: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3olwJOKxabw (Accessed 22 February 2017)
 
Reynoldson, T. (n.d.) Balloon cast plaster sculpture project, part 4 of 4. [user generated content] Creat. Reynoldson, T. At: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pFGuwpOE3zY (Accessed 22 February 2017)
 
Tucker, E. (n.d.) Erin Tucker, Plaster. At: http://www.erintucker.com/#/plaster/ (Accessed 22 February 2017)
 
 

Book review – “Making and Drawing” by Kyra Cane

25 February 2017

 

I purchased “Making and drawing” by Kyra Cane (Cane, 2012) after it was discussed by Rebecca’s Fairley in an OCA blog post (Fairley, 2016). Before starting with the OCA, I didn’t understand the relationship between drawing and textile practice, and learning how it can be applied to my textile practice has been a gradual process of discovery.

I own several texts on the subject of drawing and mark-making in textile practice (Hedley, 2010), (Greenlees, 2005), (Parrott, 2013). However, the scope of Cane’s book is wider; it covers not just textile artists, but also ceramicists, jewellery-makers, costume designers and other forms of visual creative arts. The context of drawing and mark-making is discussed as a reference, in terms of planning and design, for describing a surface, as a form of making, as a tool for thinking and as it is used in conjunction with technology. This makes it perhaps more illuminating than Texts solely concerned with textiles.

I was particularly interested in how artist Celia Smith uses loose sketches of birds as reference for her metal and wire sculptures (Cane, 2012: 18-21). Her drawing style translates seamlessly into the medium of wire, and it is clear to see how her sketches inform her practice (Jobson, 2014). In contrast, the emphasis of Dali Behennah’s drawing is on planning and design (Cane, 2010: 51-53). As a geographer, her creations made in willow and metal, are inspired by physical features of the eath’s surface (Behennah, n.d.). Her sketches explore, proportion, pattern and tone. Mixed media artist, Hilary Bower, is listed in Cane’s book in the chapter 5: drawing as thinking (Cane, 2012: 158-160). Her drawing/sketching as mixed media work exist in parallel as dependant activities. She uses drawing to explore sensibilities, resolution and balance (Cane, 2012: 159). In her blog, Bower describes how she uses sketching as an everyday tool for clarification of thoughts and thinking (Bower, n.d.)

“Making and drawing” is a wonderful reference book, and is a resource which I will be able to consult whenever I need reminding just how personal sketchbooks can be, and how they can be used if so many different ways.

 

References:

Behennah, D. (n.d.) Dail Behennah. At: http://www.dailbehennah.com/ (Accessed 5 Marchs 2017)

Bower, H. (n.d.) Hilary Bower: Concepts. At: http://www.hilarybower.com/concepts.html (Accessed 5 March 2017)

Cane, K. (2012) Making and drawing. London. Bloomsbury.

Fairley, R. (2016) Book review: Making and drawing. At:https://weareoca.com/textiles/book-review-making-drawing/ (Accessed 5 March 2017)

Greenlees, K. (2005) Creating sketchbooks for embroiders and textile artists. London. Batsford.

Hedley, G. (2010) Drawn to stitch: Line, drawing and mark-making in textile art. London. Batsford.

Jobson, C. (2014) ‘Bird sculptures constructed from wire by Celia Smith look like detailed sketches’. In: This is colossal: Art. 2 June 2014 [online] At: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/06/wire-birds-celia-smith/ (Accessed 5 Marchs 2017)

Parrott, H. (2013) Mark-making in textile art. London. Batsford