Category Archives: Part 3

Links suggested by tutor in part 3 feedback

10 May 2017


Links suggested by my tutor in part 3 feedback

In this post, I want to show that I have examined the suggested reading/viewing recommended by my tutor Cari Morton, and to make comment on the work which I feel was especially relevant or appealing.

I started by looking at my tutor’s Pintrest board made in response to the OCA MMT course handbook (Morton, 2017). Although I have a Pinterest account, I hadn’t considered making use of it at a learning resource up until now. I could see, through Cari’s collection of images that it could be a useful tool for discovering relevant practitioners and, by setting up different boards, could become a focus collections of particularly inspirational works or those related to a particular topic, style or discipline. As a result, I decided to make my own board “Printmaking for textiles” in response to Part 4 of the course (Eastaugh, 2017). Collecting all the images in one place allowed me to appreciate the breadth of styles and techniques and it also acted as a resource pool which I was able to return to throughout my contextual studies and sampling. I shall certainly use Pinterest as a springboard for my Part 5 contextual studies.

Next, Cari suggested that I have a look at the use of silicone and latex within the graduate collections at New Designers and Graduate fashion week; in particular she suggested the work of Lucy Simpson and Xiao Li as being relevant to my use of silicone within part 3, project 1, exercise 1, samples 50-54.

Lucy Simpson describes herself as a “print and materials-led textile designer”, whose practice arose from a desire to seek out the tactile qualities lost within digital printing (Simpson, 2012-2016a). Especially relevant to my sampling was the way in which she combines a partial covering of silicone onto fabrics to make new tactile surfaces in which both elements are visible. I thought, particularly about sample 51 of part 3, project 1, exercise 1 (shown below), the broken surface, and how this could be contrasted with a textile places underneath.

Membrane.jpgBehind_lit.jpg

One of the strong elements which appeals to me about sample 51 is the geometry of the surface relief. Although many of Simpson’s silicone textile fabrics are irregular in pattern, I found an example of a regular “dogtooth” check (Eastaugh, 2017b). I like the striations in the silicone as it has been laid down onto the fabric, which gives additional surface texture. Also appealing is that the application of silicone is not completely consistent, so there are interesting variations on the fabric surface. I was interested to read that Simpson’s work had been included in various trend magazines, such as Elle decoration, Mix magazine and WGSN. Searching for the dogtooth fabric, I found an article in which it had been featured as a dress (Cover Magazine, 2014).

Xiao Li coats whole blocks of knitted fabrics with silicone and creates contrast within her garments by leaving other areas untreated. Examples can be seen on the Style Bubble website (Style Bubble, 2012). I also found a write up about Li in the London fashion week profile page (London fashion week, 2017). It described how she sought to use her techniques to show that knitwear doesn’t have to be shapeless, instead designing voluminous structured clothing. I was also interested to read that Li lists modern architecture as one of her influences. I also love the simple clean lines and shapes of modern buildings, and particularly have been influenced by the buildings of Oscar Niemeyer.

The final practitioner suggested by my tutor was Laura Splan and her “viral doilies” series (Splan, 2004). These works comprise of computerised embroidered lace based on virus structures, each of which displays a different radial symmetry. The work re-examines the lace doily as an innocuous domestic artefact by placing in the context of microbial imagery which has associations with cultural anxieties such as bioterrorism and health epidemics (e.g. Bird flu, Ebola). As a biology/mathematics graduate, I am interested in both the concept and the geometry of this work (I have purchased a copy of Ernst Haeckel’s “Artforms in nature” (Haeckel, 2015)). Consequently, I was surprised to find myself underwhelmed by the visual aesthetics of the Splan’s work. On reflection, I think this is because of the lack of depth and texture in her pieces, accompanied by the fact that they were presented as monochrome (white doilies on a black background). They seem rather clinical (which perhaps is the intention seeing as they reflect functional domestic objects?) In contrast, the Haeckel structures have colour, texture, three-dimensionality and in some cases semi-transparency, which is the direction in which I would be inclined to take the development of radical symmetrical structures.

 

References:

Cover magazine (2014), ‘Editor’s picks: 20 designs from London’. In: Cover magazine: Textiles and carpets for modern interiors. 30 October, 2014. [online]. At:http://cover-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/409a3fd27d749f3a-siliconedogtoothprint2.jpg (Accessed 10 May 2017).

Eastaugh, N. (2017a) Printmaking for textiles. [Pinterest board, May 2017] Available at:http://pin.it/ckRIxiD (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Eastaugh, N. (2017b) Silicone texture Lucy Simpson. Available at: http://pin.it/unPVwaN (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Haeckel, E. (2015) Art forms in nature. London. Prestel.

London fashion week (2017) Designer profile: Xiao Li. At: http://www.londonfashionweek.co.uk/designers_profile.aspx?designerID=2859 (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Morton, C. (2017) Textiles mixed media. [Pinterest board, May 2017] Available at: http://pin.it/xvUm7Ms (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Simpson, L. (2012-2016a) Lucy Simpson: About. At:http://lucy-simpson.com/about (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Simpson, L. (2012-2016b) Lucy Simpson:silicone At: http://lucy-simpson.com/silicone (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Splan, L. (2004) Doilies. Projects: viral artefacts At:http://www.laurasplan.com/viral-doilies/ (Accessed 10 May 2014)

Style Bubble (2012) Neon slick knits. At: http://stylebubble.co.uk/style_bubble/2012/07/neon-slick-knits.html (Accessed 10 May 2017)

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A review of the use of colour in my Assignment 3 sketchbook

20 April 2017

 

My tutor made specific comments in the feedback for assignment 3, remarking that at times there was a dissonance between the use of colour and the work. She suggested that I consider using a palette from within the image or working with a more neutral/monochrome palette to start with, and that I review and reflect upon my use of colour in the course.

In response, when I looked at my sketchbook again in context, it became obvious to me which colour sketches worked well and which did not, and I thought the best way of presenting this information would be to go through each in a blog post and explain why, with lessons learnt for the future.

 

Which colour sketches didn’t work:


Page 53: The punched cushion

I used colour because I wanted to emphasise the negative space more prominently and I wanted to emphasise the “window-like” properties of the sample. In the event the lemon yellow and bright turquoise seem like an affront to the eyes – the contrast in hue is large and it seems out of place in this context.

 

Page 54. Observational drawings of Part 3, project 2, sample 6

A thumbnail of the sample is shown below:

Casty2.jpg

The next image is an extract from my sketchbook:

In the top drawing, I have used a muted shade of charcoal to make a mostly tonal drawing to reflect the shapes and shadows of the sculpture. This is soothing to the eye.

In the drawing on the bottom right, I wanted to get away from the focus on contoured surfaces and the reason for the colour was to focus on the outline of the holes made by the balloons and to clearly differentiate from he positive and negative spaces. Looking at the image, I can appreciate that this bears no reference to the sample, and appears somewhat misplaced. My intention had been to abstract the image from a 3D sculpture and project it onto a 2D surface. In hindsight this would have been better achieved with a monochrome or harmonious palette which did not distract from the imagery.


Pages 55-59. Observational drawings Part 3, project 2, samples 2a) and 2b)

A thumbnail of one of the samples is shown below:

Sav3.jpg

The first sketches I have included are in charcoal, so that I can contrast their success with the later coloured analogies. I am pleased with these sketches because they provide detailed and expressive representations of the surface of the sample, and areas of depth and shadow.

In contrast, the sketches made in water-soluble crayon above are also tonal, but lack the range of the charcoal analogies. The purpose of changing the colour was to abstract them away from the original sample, but the three colours neither relate to each other, nor to the sample, so once again there is a feeling of displacement or disjointedness. 

In this final analogy I made a collage but cutting out the outline shapes from magazine pages. After sticking them into my sketchbook, I decided that they did not show up well against the white background, and for this reason I decided to outline them using orange water-soluble crayon. The aim was to create a shadow effect, but they are orange, it does not have the desired effect. In hindsight,  I should have made a note to explain this is my sketchbook.

 

Back inside cover – Part 3, project 1, sample 72

In this colour sketch, I was trying to give myself an ideas of what the natural cork background and red coloured latex sample would look like. If I am honest, I don’t like these two colours together, but I did not have time to rework the sample in a new colour scheme. This was sample 72 (recommended number for this exercise was 9)! I had just made too many and had I concentrated more on fewer samples, I would have had sufficient time to think careful and rework my results, if needed.

 


Undecided:


Page 26. Lattice

This is a bold colour combination with a strong contrast of saturation. It is both vibrant and an affront on the senses and is emphasised by the pattern. I am undecided as to whether it is pleasant or not and I have concluded that this would depend upon the situation in which it is used (i.e the size of the piece and the overall colour scheme in which it is placed).

 

Which colour sketches worked:


Front inside cover: based on Part 1, project 1, sample 48

Although this outline drawing has been abstracted and bears little resemblance to the sample, the shapes are interesting and the colour scheme (which draws on the paintings of KAWS) is bold helps to differentiate the shapes. It suggests a kaleidoscope, maybe graffiti or street art. 

Compared with the pencil outline (see above – sketchbook page 50), the contrast helps to draw me into the image and invites me to decipher the shapes.

 

Page 6-7. Doodles

These shapes were inspired by linocut marks, packaging and the paintings of Van Gogh. The colours add to the textural quality of the image, suggesting that some shapes are more prominent, and suggesting depth and perspective.

 

Page 10. Relief texture rubbing

This colour scheme works because it focuses on the complementary colours of violet and yellow. Together with blue-violet it from a harmonious triad, as described by Itten (Itten, 1961, 72-73).

 

Page 26. Lattice

This is the same analogy as that on page 25, but using a harmonious colour scheme with a soft transition of hue across the background and an increasing construct of saturation from bottom left to top right. I feel that this scheme is restful and I am more convinced of it’s success than the colour scheme on page 25.

 

Page 46. The squashed object

In the bottom right I have adapted Barbara Cotterell’s “Flourpots” piece by using a different shaped “container”, and by emphasising the outside instead of the inside by applying her colour scheme o the exterior surfaces. This colour scheme has a bold contrast in hue and gives the impression of being taken from a paintbox. I think that the contrast works well in this instance and helps define and differentiate each of the elements.

 

Page 51-52. Development from a drawing based on Part 1, project 1, sample 48.

 

This is an harmonious colour scheme of autumnal colours ranging from yellow, to green to brown, to russet to pink. It works because the colours form a transition from similar hues and overlapping the stencils helps the eye to blend them together,

 

Conclusion:

In the sketchbook for Part 3, I made a conscious effort to try and abstract away from the samples by using colour. It is obvious that this was often not successful.

The colour schemes which didn’t work tended which I chose without consideration of the context nor the feelings that I wanted to engender. They were more often bold and strongly contrasting. 

Harmonious, complementary or related colours tended to work well and enhanced rather than retracted from my visual message. 

 

References:

Itten, J (1961) Itten: The elements of colour. New York. John Wiley and Sons.


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)

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.

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)
 
 

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.