This a summary of the last 6 weeks because I haven’t blogged this stuff as I’ve gone along, obviously….
Rivets, spot welding, workshop…
We started playing with little bits of materials, thinking about different joining methods. The first riveted bits I did were just made using scraps – wood, metal, fabric. I became a bit frustrated with lack of materials, I hadn’t come across anything at home that would have lent itself well to being riveted, pieces past a certain size don’t really work. What I did have plenty of was aluminium carabiner flashing, the waste product from carabiner manufacture. We were shown how to spot weld and although the aluminium was not ideal I welded a basic form together. Unfortunately the spot welder couldn’t deal with my crazy furious pace and after 30 minutes or so it would over heat and give up so I kind of moved on too….
The first week we were given a little refresher about some of the machinery in the workshop. I really like all the basic stuff – drills, sanders, cutters. I made some very basic dowel joints and fantasised about making furniture… I also looked at combining materials. This was linked in part to my studio practice at the time – combining unlikely or conflicting materials. The belt sander meant I could try to achieve a kind of blend of materials i.e a piece of acrylic or polystyrene sandwiched between wood and sanded so they follow the same curve or line.
Ultimately these bits and pieces weren’t really going anywhere (although I found some of them were satisfying little objects to make), and with my studio practice changing direction aswell (from looking at conflict in media images and the distortion of images to looking at ancient neolithic sites on Anglesey, archaeology, archives, recording etc…) it seemed natural to change direction in this module as well.
A change of materials and methods was good. Plaster casting was mentioned so I decided to go with that. I felt it could link well to some of the ideas I was thinking about in studio practice because as a material it can incase/preserve as well as replicating/reproducing things.
I used some rusty old bits of metal that I had found on a boat yard last year.
Some bits I made a cast then a copy of, and others I set in a block of plaster. I also tried to combine some of the wood pieces made in the work shop with plaster. These weren’t so successful but maybe they just need more work done to them i.e carving away and shaping…
The last couple of weeks spent drawing from what we had made were a nice change. I don’t really put aside proper time for drawing, I don’t do it enough anymore, so this was refreshing. I should really draw more…
I focused on the circular mast-clamp-thing which is now partially encased on plaster. We made notes as we went along, thinking about possible materials and methods we could use to make an object. At this point I think I veered away from any particular links to my studio practice. Drawing helped me picture some forms I wanted to make and also how I wanted them to appear – glowing, translucent, floating…
I don’t think I’ve really found the right way to make what I’d pictured. My first attempt involved tissue paper and PVA glue. I used an old cardboard inner bit from a roll of tape, cut in half (so quite a bit smaller than I wanted), and I thought cling film would stop the tissue sticking to the roll (since I want the final shape to be translucent), and then plastered a couple of layers of the tissue paper and pva. This didn’t really work, it was too floppy and scruffy and definitely wouldn’t have worked on a larger scale. I got a similar result with starch, too floppy even on a small scale.
It was suggested that I try wax. I’ve never really worked with wax before. I like the smell, is that weird? Again I tried a tiny version first, and a slightly bigger one using a really light fabric (some king of lining fabric) dipped in the wax and layered over a plastic strip bent into shape. This first one didn’t work well at all – not enough layer of wax, but second one using paper instead of fabric and many more layers of wax worked fairly well. It still didn’t have the crisp shape I was hoping for but I really like the varied and unpredictable texture which is what I was hoping for – a crisp shape contrasting with a rougher surface texture. It’s very delicate though.
This was photographed in darkness with a light source I could control which brings out the uneven surface I was looking for.
A really practical solution which was suggested to me was to use plastic. I had some clear perspex and used a strip of this with a few inches at each end melted to a right angle, and a couple of holes drilled so I can use string to pull it into the semi circular shape I was looking for. I used sand paper to scratch the surface, I hoped the scratches would help to diffuse the light as well as create a translucent surface.
The last material I tried was liquid latex. I haven’t used it before so it was a bit of an experiment. The final results aren’t amazing! But they’re interesting enough that I would try to use it again. I didn’t have the right form at home (the perspex shape, now that it is made, would be ideal) so I just tried to get the form of small pot. After the first layer, covered one section with tissue, then continued the process of painting on the latex and letting it dry, adding another layer. The tissue section went a bit funny on the inside but seems to hold its form better. I think if I had applied more latex layers before the tissue, and maybe a couple of layers of tissue instead of just one, it worked better. Also some kind of thickener would help. As well as helping to make the form a bit sturdier the tissue added the same qualities that I was looking for with the wax form.
A latex covered plaster cast piece was also just an experiment. I haven’t tried to peel the latex off yet but I quite like the unexpected texture …