Final drawings, words, photos added and blog tweaked, MMT3 posted.
So, here, as promised to Lottie, who shared her sketchbook, is a video of the accompanying workbook.
Final drawings, words, photos added and blog tweaked, MMT3 posted.
So, here, as promised to Lottie, who shared her sketchbook, is a video of the accompanying workbook.
This has been a thoroughly enjoyable assignment. With so much possibility, materials and ideas to explore, it was a little overwhelming at times. One of my aims for this section was to focus more. I did and was more productive with my time, but may still have got carried away with amount of materials tested and samples produced.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
I was pushed to explore and develop new technical skills and believe I was successful. I have continued to demonstrate good visual skills in the choice of materials, colours and presentation, but realise I need to work more on thinking visually. Lifetime habits of note taking and listening with a pen in my hand, writing to help assimilate information need to be exchanged for visual notes. I have gained confidence in recording information visually but it is not yet a ‘habit’, more of a conscious decision. Developing visual ‘note taking’ will improve my practice. The basis for good design is continuing to grow.
Quality of outcome
Good research into the materials and observation of others’ work helped to produced a quality outcome, with a variety of content, good, clear presentation of learning log and workbook.
Demonstration of Creativity
Risk taking has increased with broader experimentation and invention. The more creative approach to a workbook introduced for the last assignment, which fuses the research into materials and artists with my own sampling is continuing to fuel ideas and develop my skills and personal voice. Greater creativity in drawing is evident.
Research has continued to be broadminded and there has been reflection, whilst looking at new material in context has been helpful. A better understanding of metaphor is developing with perhaps less of a focus on critical thinking throughout this assignment. I do however have a good understanding of the benefits of reflection, research and critical thinking and am working on achieving a balance between all the assessment criteria.
Referring back to Formative feedback pointers from Assignment 2
Overall, this was a successful and productive assignment which has enhanced the development of skills and confidence.
I look forward to video feedback and am excited at the prospect of exploring and developing printing skills in Assignment 4.
(paper workbook p41-45)
A fabulous resource introducing casting materials. So much information and temptation to try everything. During my initial look, I was drawn to shredded paper captured in resin, layered resin, gel-coat, a very thick gel-like polyester resin used to draw in three dimensional space which can be piped from an icing bag. Alginate caught my attention as a material for the capture of fine detail.
Over-excited at the thought of trying new materials, I had to reign myself in. Much as I need to push boundaries, I also need to focus on the materials I can usefully explore at home, incorporating some samples from Assignments 1 and 2.
Contemplating a liquid material to capture texture and in preparation for part 2, plaster and concrete were considered. Initial thoughts are that whilst my eye is drawn to the three dimensional pillows of colour and texture of Rebecca Fairley’s work below and I find them visually appealing, I don’t feel compelled to touch or feel the material in the same way as I do with paper mache, paper clay and pulp-made products.
Looking at larger, detailed photographs in her online portfolio for a long time, trying to decipher my thoughts and interpret my feelings, there is no doubt that the softer curvaceous shapes are more attractive to me, the flatter, sharper edged pieces, some containing other materials are visually interesting and invite a closer look, those from a more knitted surface which have retained scraps of the cast material are absorbing, but the two that capture the soft, billowing folds of a textured cloth (images P1100371.jpg and P1100363) provoke a feeling not experienced with any of the other samples. It is so elusive, I almost can’t get it, but it is there, I’m closing my eyes, trying to identify the feeling, a pleasure and warmth, a slight glow, causing a relaxing of my shoulders, maybe a comfort, a coming home? Is that meaningful or a confirmation that I am comfortable with the familiar?!
When first researching for this Assignment, Ines Seidel’s work was so inspirational, different from anything I’d seen, loose and expressive and telling a story. I still find it so, but feel the ‘story’ is such an integral part of the work that without its title, each piece loses some of its meaning. The inclusion of plant material, strips of newsprint or text on slivers of paper contrast with the dense roughness of the concrete. There is some capturing of surface texture but more capturing/containment of actual textural material. I think it is the contrast of materials and textures and an appreciation for the subtle and descriptive humour of the titles of each piece that appeals to me.
Rachel Whiteread’s “sculptures subtly disturb the status quo” comments Charlotte Mullins in her book Rachel Whiteread, Tate Publishing. The negative space cast certainly plays with my mind, in some cases, I really had to think to identify the space that had been ‘solidified’. How does her work make me feel? The mattress cast in rubber has a feeling of being alive, the texture of dental plaster untitled bed/mattress has captured texture like a wrinkled bed, a moment in time, putting it into context. I don’t feel the same about the casting of the ‘House’ or the Holocaust Monument which have less ‘life’, although this may be the point. This is art that needs to be seen in person, the size and desolate nature of some of the pieces cannot possibly be felt from a photograph. Subesquent to this observation I came across an interesting article in The Guardian on a recent work from Whitehead, which reiterates my view.
Though the work photographs beautifully, it was made to be experienced in person. “You need to see it and be with it: the air, the weather, the sky, the ground, the piece and its relationships to all these other things,” Whiteread says. “It’s really quite something.”
The more organic, fluid shapes suggest a softer surface and the negative casts need careful thought as they’re not quite as I expect. The casts from hot water bottles are the most interesting to me, the pillow-like shape, the rubber more alive than the plaster, the negative space immediately obvious, suggesting the fluid movement I expect from a hot-water bottle.
Rachel Dein’s method of casting plant forms helped me to better visualise the positive and negative aspects of casting. The idea of creating a mould of the negative space in a more flexible material which is then used to to achieve a detailed textural surface became clearer and quite tempting. The following quote is taken from an article in Gardens Illustrated March 2014. Words Sorrel Everton.
Gathering plants, often from her own garden, Rachel lays them on to a rolled-out slab of clay and presses them in to transfer all their details, before carefully removing them. A wooden frame is then placed over and the plaster poured in. Once set, the clay is peeled away to reveal the ‘plants’ in relief. Yet it feels almost as if the real plants are still there, the casting is so accurate.
Here I am really taken by the detail of capturing nature ‘in the moment’, the composition, fluidity and movement created by the curling stems, the contrast in shapes, from the finest detail to the chunkier stalks.
Exploring alginate as a means of capturing detail, the following clip on pinterest was useful.
Additional inspiration for plaster casting:
Material: Plaster of Paris
Material: Air Drying Clay
Project 1 – Molding from a surface
Sampling with Alginate, Plaster of Paris and Air-drying clay
My first attempts at capturing the texture of a natural wrapping from Assignment 2 worked to a degree but too much water in the alginate and insufficient plaster of paris powder to water affected results. The alginate didn’t set well and the plaster cast is a little soft and has subsequently cracked. All the ingredients were prepared with separate disposable containers and spoons for each step with a large bucket of water in the sink to rinse off any remains of alginate and plaster to ensure the plaster didn’t get into the drain. As soon as the grass was in the alginate, I started to mix the plaster of paris. Once it was mixed and the alginate seemed set, the grass was removed and the plaster poured in. The sides were tapped to encourage the air bubbles to the surface. Once set it was easy to remove the plaster cast from the alginate. Inverting the plastic container to remove the cast, the alginate started to disintegrate. If supported it may be possible to use it more than once, but better to assume it’s a single use material. I was really encouraged by the detail of texture achieved from the central wrapped section and the movement created by the fine lines of grass.
Although a little scruffy, I was encouraged by the results.
Inspired by the negative cast of cauliflower found on Pinterest, I suspended a small cauliflower head over a plastic bowl and poured alginate into the vessel. After two or three minutes, the alginate was set and the cauliflower easily and quite cleanly removed. The proportions of both were better than the first attempt but there were air bubbles in the alginate causing some extra little pimples in the cauliflower cast. The results were still very satisfying. There is something really impressive about the detail of textured and three-dimensional form achievable with this technique.
Not expecting to exceed such success, I was overjoyed with the texture achieved by rolling plantains into air drying clay and the resulting plaster cast. Aquilegia seed heads were also effective but the plaster layer was a little thin and cracked.
The following was cast by pouring plaster directly onto cotton scrim. The scrim was easily removed from the plaster. a lovely story of the soft undulating folds of the cloth and the loose weave.
Far less successful was the attempt at casting jute scrim direct from plaster. The hairy-ness of the jute made it impossible to remove cleanly from the plaster.
Far better results were achieved by impressing it into air-drying clay to create a mold and casting from that. In both this and the plantain cast, the scraps of plant material and jute left behind in the cast remind me of the comment that some of Rachel Whiteread’s casts “captured traces of life” (Charlotte Mullins (2004)). This record of a ‘moment in time’, the thought of material evidence, a trace of human contact, perhaps in discarded clothing, is touching.
Attempting to cast the underside of a mushroom was a bit tricky, the alginate was difficult to remove from the mushroom and the plaster enveloped the smaller pieces, but the pieces that worked show promise.
(paper workbook p36-40)
Material: Paper clay
At the beginning of this assignment as I was gathering books for research, I came across Rosette Gault’s The New Ceramics Paperclay Art & Practice published in 2013 by Bloomsbury in my local library and was excited by the apparent properties and potential of paper clay. I was hooked, read it from cover to cover and made more notes than was perhaps necessary!
When my friend gave me a crash course in paper making, she also made a clay-like substance with paper pulp, water and whiting, omitting to add the pva and sawdust from the recipe. It wasn’t fit for purpose at the time but after four or five days, the water had evaporated off and she gave it to me to try out. It was quite difficult to use and a bit crumbly when dry, but I was excited by the result, (previously posted 27th January 2016)
and couldn’t wait to try again, with more of a cook’s approach to the recipe!
Back to Rosette Gault’s book, she describes paperclay as follows:
Paperclay ceramic, as an artist’s medium, is a waterbased compound of clay minerals and cellulose fibre that hardens in the open air and/or can be fired and glazed in kilns”
Paperclay properties and potential:
All information taken from The New Ceramic, Paperclay Art & Practice by Rosette Gault and published by Bloomsbury Publishing plc.
Excited by paperclay’s apparent versatility, I was delighted to come across Paola Paronetto’s work, the quirky, characterful shapes, the matt texture, subtle, limited colour palette, the fragility of the fine edges, the tactile nature invites me to hold it and examine the texture with my fingertips, the simple but striking compositions remind me of Moretti. The corrugated cardboard-like finish is fragile but somehow strong, I imagine their paper/porcelain lightness and wonder if they seem or feel strong in reality. Paronetto’s pieces are fired during which the paper is burned away. Working at home, samples would be finished unfired.
Gizella Warburton’s work, below, appeals. Although not paper clay, but referred to as mixed media or paper cloth and thread, the properties are similar and I feel drawn to the tactility of of her work and the materials. I imagine the lightness and warmth of unfired paper clay would be replicated in the combination of paper cloth, paint and thread used in her pieces. Once again, the limited palette, the simple but highly textured surfaces, both visual and actual beg to be examined, delicately traced with the finger tips, the bowl like shapes cupped in the hands.
Within her artist statement, she explains:
My work explores an intuitive response to linear, textural and light detail within landscape and surface. Abstract compositions evolve through the tactile and contemplative process of drawing with paper cloth and thread. Mark making is an intrinsic part of my practice: shadowed, scratched, stained, scarred, pierced, wrapped and stitched…
Sara Ransford‘s paperclay work (above) is so detailed, a myriad of finely rolled sheets or tiny formed pieces, with repetition bringing unity to her work.
Paperclay is non-toxic but as with all art materials, those with skin allergies may want to wear gloves and test a small sample first.
http://www.northstreetpotters.com/potters-gallery/sarah-williams (24 North Street, Clapham)
The above caught my eye in North Street Potters, Clapham. They are perhaps porcelain rather than paper clay porcelain but their delicate, fine nature allowing a tealight to highlight the impressed pattern inspired me to try impressing thinly rolled paper clay.
Further inspiration for paperclay samples:
Sampling with bought paper clay
Using small pieces, the clay was easy to roll out directly onto the kitchen worktop. Wrapped natural samples from Assignment 2 were impressed into the clay.
A spatula eased the clay off the kitchen worktop and into some left over packaging to create shallow saucer like shapes. It took three days to dry fully and the result is some lightweight, thinly rolled, textured and fairly robust pieces. It was an easy, clean process, successful in capturing texture.
Graphite and oil pastels were used to highlight the surface.
They were light enough to be joined with stitch, a needle pierces the paper clay but thinking of Assignment 2’s experiments with staples and Jane Neal’s hanging pierced paper led me to try staples which would show the versatility of paper versus air-drying clay. The shallow disks were easily joined with staples, a combination of materials worthy of further exploration.
Exploring the surfaces by drawing helped me to understand the nature of the marks.
The structure is lightweight and quite delicate. So much so that the initial linen thread used to hang the stapled piece seemed a bit heavy and was replaced with a fine wire which disappeared into the background.
I enjoyed working with the paper clay. When wet, it was pliable but not sticky, relatively easy to roll thinly, to tear and to impress with texture. The dried clay is still slightly flexible and durable. It may tear if forced, but not readily. Finer feathered edges might be possible. The lightness and warmth of the material is appealing.
Mark making into the clay was quite absorbing and the fossil-like flower shape produced by the free machined stitching suggests drawing with sewing machine on soluble materials offers lots of possibility for creating texture.
The graphite and shades of grey oil pastels rubbed into the surface harmonised with the thin, lightweight shapes. The torn edges and negative space added to the interest and could be developed.
Whilst stapling, I realised the shallow saucer like shapes could be joined to form a bowl-like structure and both sides of the clay could be textured.
I am still very keen to make my own paper clay or paper-mache clay but time constraints limited me on this occasion. Refining recipes for my own clay, whilst developing ideas and techniques, I could happily lose myself in this material.
Just before submitting this assignment, I decadently attended a paper clay workshop run by Claire Ireland at West Dean College. (what a beautiful location and fabulous day experience)
Experimenting with Paper Clay – Taster Day – West Dean College – 3rd July, 2016
The day concentrated on experimenting with porcelain paper clay pouring slip. It was thoroughly enjoyable and informative and I left 23 pieces there for firing. End results to follow in due course.
Added 26th September, 2016, fired paper clay, what exciting results! So fine and delicate, if I had a kiln, I’d explore this further.
Hessian and scrim, good texture, but not as exiting as leaves.
and the potential to pipe lacy designs:
Paper clay doesn’t need to be fired, but is transformed into such beautiful, delicate porcelain like pieces.
Gault, Rosette (2013) The New Ceramics Paperclay Art & Practice, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London
(paper workbook pages 27-34)
Material: Heat ‘n’ Form Re-usable Print Block
The course notes refer to moldable polymers like ThermoMorph and InstaMorph and both of which start as pellets which can be molded once warmed in hot water and set hard when cooled.
Whilst the Heat ‘n’ Form print block is neither product, it has some similar properties. Reasonably priced at £1.75 for two blocks with 4 useable surfaces, the surface can be warmed with a heat gun, iron or hotplate (no naked flame) and imprinted with texture. The texture can be printed using water-based media and then the surface can be reheated, whereupon it returns to a smooth block ready to be used again.
The blocks don’t required any specific safety considerations, although care should be taken with the method of heating the block and any materials used for printing.
What a surprise! These little blocks proved to be an efficient and easy to use addition to the home-based, bedroom studio!
It wasn’t clear how long the block should be heated, but research suggested that the surface cools very quickly and therefore needs imprinting with speed. Initially, I heated the block and pressed it into the texture I was trying to capture, rather than pressing the texture into the block. It took a couple of attempts before I had a good imprint. I started with bottle tops but found it was difficult to capture the crinkly edge. A handful of screws were very satisfying. The detail achieved was quite unexpected. Using water-soluble block printing ink, cheap roller and chinese rice paper produced some quite appealing textural prints. The paper was a little absorbent but reproduced the impression well.
Paper clips, Cocktail sticks, bottle caps, drill bits and screws.
So encouraged by the results, I looked back to some of Assignment 2’s samples. Working the other way this time, the block was heated and the texture pressed immediately into the surface. This was more effective, just the time taken to put the heat gun down, pick the block up and push it into the paper clips etc., seems to have been enough for it to cool. Although the black & white results were pleasing, more detail was captured by pushing the textured item into the block. The paper was some newsprint (plain) which had been used to protect the table when painting some fabric with dilute dyes and the paint, Georgian water-mixable oil in Alazarin crimson.
I was very pleased with the results, the packing paper around the orange wool made a chrysanthemum like shape and the jute containing bubble wrap impression picked up the circles and the criss-cross lines of both materials. Added to the mottled dyes in the paper, the prints made quite a complex surface. I was really quite excited and spurred on.
One of the advantages of this method of capturing texture is that the original item need not get messy. With that in mind, I decided to try using my little pots from Assignment 2. I started by using the side of the pot below. The results were ok, but not very exciting.
Using a different pot, I felt I’d struck gold! The delicate texture picked up by the impression has a fossil like pattern which was really enhanced by using a very light roller-ing of paint.
Although I have an understanding of the theory of the creative process, there was a lovely realisation that this was truly personal work in practice. I am inexplicably fond of my little pots and absolutely delighted with the print. It has resulted from attempting pot coiling as a method of joining following research, enjoying the potential textures at the time and experimenting with similar but different materials. Adding knowledge gained from a recent workshop where I was introduced to the Georgian paint and produced the background. A coming together of lots of little factors and a special moment.
Continuing to explore with the other pots produced very pleasing results but none quite as exciting as the first!
Grey M & Wild J (2004) Paper Metal & Stitch, Batsford, London.
(paper workbook pages 21-26)
Project 1 Molding from a surface
Sampling Paper Pulp
Moving on from papier mâché but before exploring paper clay, paper making and couching sheets to capture texture seemed a logical step, all helping to familiarise me with some of the properties of paper.
I have made paper once before under the supervision of a friend which I blogged in January, 2016 here, so it was fairly new territory to attempt home alone. A good teacher and some comprehensive notes helped, as the results were very encouraging. Using an embroidery hoop with some net curtain as a mold, the paper was couched onto various surfaces, recycled plastic netting, hessian and jute scrim. Texture was captured from all the surfaces with the most successful being the top left and right pictures of the front and back of a sheet couched onto a fairly substantial nylon net bag.
I experimented with adding colour on some less textured pieces. As the paper is unsized, it is very absorbent and most paint or ink soaked in immediately. The most effective below was the last sample where oil pastels and markal sticks gently applied and rubbed with fingertips really highlighted the texture.
The following is a cast of a piece of scrunched cotton scrim, where the surface texture is quite subtle. A new addition to my materials, ArtGraf watercolour graphite was perfect for enhancing the texture using a dry brush technique.
Attempting to capture the texture of some heavier surfaces had good results. The following is taken from a bamboo mat with a small square of cartridge paper laid onto the mat before couching the paper. The contrast of the smooth and bumpy surface is effective.
Two sink mats (which would never have found their way to my sink) were put to good use for this exercise:
My attempt to cast the inside of a scallop shell was less successful. It had been drying for three days and was considerably lighter in weight suggesting it was ready. The mold had been greased and the paper came away easily where it was fully dry but broke up in the middle where it was still damp. Had I been more patient, I think it would have made a good casting.
One of the most effective surfaces to cast so far was a Viburnum rhytidophyllum leaf.
The topside cast in soluble paper, top image, middle right in four layers of lokta tissue, second left in four layers of 9gm abaca tissue, third left and bottom two, the underside cast in paper pulp with the last images coloured with sennelier oil pastels.
I love the warmth and feel of handmade paper and would be interested in developing my paper making skills to see if I could produce finer, tissue like samples and experiment with different ways of using paper pulp. I was particularly inspired by the work of Raija Jokinen who makes fabulous lightweight, durable sculptural pieces with hand made paper pulp, paper yarn, flax and stitch.
Her Paperart gallery is particularly appealing to me. Within her artist statement, she describes her work:
My art works are made of flax and the working method can be compared to painting and drawing, but the “paint” is the fiber that is normally used e.g. as a base material for oil paintings. In addition, I use stitching to form “drawn” lines and rice starch as a binder. My methods and materials are also related with handmade paper techniques: A sheet of paper is formed of pulp consisting short bast fibres and water. Handmade paper sheets are used e.g. to print graphic art. Beside the short fibers I also use long fibers, which are normally used for example in spinning the yarn for fabric weaving. The technique I’ve developed could therefore be located in the meeting point of the techniques in painting, graphic art and textile.
Joshua Monroe prints with wood blocks and paper pulp. They are simple prints and interesting colour studies, with the feathered edge of home-made paper. A recent post on paperslurry.com discusses his work and includes an artist’s statement describing the process.
My work focuses on using handmade paper and carved wood blocks to produce cast pulp prints. Instead of creating my images using only the raised surface of the block, I place pulp on and into the block in order to draw out information from the negative space. Movement and direction occur from the channels, cuts, and gouges dug out of the wood’s surface, as well as the direction of grain revealed from tearing pieces of wood away. Using this technique I explore the relationships between color, texture, and movement while allowing my own interior, fundamental landscape to resonate within the work.
(paper workbook pages 15-23)
Materials – Papier mâché
Papier mâché can be made by pulping or layering paper with adhesive. Consider materials for different effects.
Magie Hollingworth – I was introduced to the work of Magie Hollingworth by a friend who had attended a vessel making workshop with her at West Dean College in 2010. Magie takes papier mâché far beyond the level we might be familiar with from our school days! The Pinterest selection below illustrates the variety of her work. Her cast vintage spoons show the capacity for lightweight papers to capture texture. The matt black lokta tissue is a lovely choice to define the beauty of the spoon. The use of decorated papers and dressmaking tissue on the conical vase add interest and contrast with the roughness of the paper pulp on the inner surface. The unadorned paper pulp offers a fragility that I enjoy.
I am drawn to vessels so small curving bowls I can cup in my hands and run my fingers gently over the textured surface appeal. Some artisan mugs have the same effect. Pinterest offered a wealth of beautiful, delicate, translucent bowls for inspiration, although I must remember to focus on capturing texture, not making bowls!
Ines Seidel – I looked at Ines’ work in Assignment 2 Joining & Wrapping, but was particularly drawn to her beautifully delicate, translucent bowls using papier mâché techniques, examples of which are included in the pinterest selection above. Petra Poolen – produces similarly ethereal, gossamer, diaphanous bowls. The appeal is in the combination of simple materials in a neutral or pale colour scheme, allowing the beauty of texture and natural material to shine through. A translucency allowing the fibres or inclusions to be outlined adds to the aesthetic.
I started with layered papiermâché, using old book pages torn into strips and a 50/50 mix of pva and wallpaper paste using recycled packaging as the mold. It took a couple of days to dry.
Whilst I like the effect of the paper used, the texture of the packaging was not captured and I found the technique of using lots of strips of paper a bit tedious and sticky. The surface had a ‘satin’ finish and was pleasing.
Far more appealing was the idea of using fine papers in whole layers like Magie Holingworth’s black lokta paper spoons, trying to capture the translucency of Ines Seidel and Petra Poolen’s work or experimenting with water soluble paper. The following were quite successful. Top left water soluble paper, moistened and pushed into the crevices with a paint brush, good texture, slightly crunchy finish. Top right, nice feel to it, three or four layers of tea bag paper, some texture captured but only noticeable once highlighted with an oil pastel. Middle right, four layers of natural lokta tissue, good texture, quite stiff and opaque, two layers might be more translucent and delicate. Bottom, two to three layers of lokta tissue. Good texture both sides, nice feel, matt, warm surface.
Trying the water soluble paper a little thinner produced an effective cast of a leaf, with some almost transparent areas. Using the same method to push pulp into an indian wood block produced interesting results. The paper absorbed old colour from the block giving an aged look and the pieces were sturdy but very lightweight with a delicate look.
The most successful papers were the very lightweight hand made lokta and mulberry tissues, which captured texture well and dried quickly if only two or three layers were used. It was helpful to press kitchen tissue against the piece to absorb excess moisture before leaving it to dry. The soluble paper was quick to use but slow to dry. 9gm lens/abaca tissue was effective and had a lovely feel and finish, although heavier 21gm abaca tissue didn’t work for me at all, nor did a heavier lokta tissue. Some texture was just about discernible on the natural coloured tissue but none were as effective as those used above.
Bawden, J (1990) The Art & Craft of Papier Mâché Mitchell Beazley International Ltd London
Campbell-Harding, Valerie & Grey, Maggie (2006) Stitch, Dissolve Distort with Machine Embroidery, Batsford, London
Grey, Maggie, Wild, Jane (2007) Paper Metal Stitch, Batsford, London
Holmes, C (2010) The Found Object in Textile Art, Batsford, London.