3.1; Playing with Latex (3)

Aims: to explore the more traditional usage of thin layers of latex built up over a surface.

Why did I select this material/process/approach? I wanted to check how latex performed on curved surfaces made of different materials:

  • Plaster: sample from previous experiment. Research assures me plaster is ideal for this type of application as it absorbs some of the moisture content of the latex, promoting drying.
  • Golf Ball: curved, non-porous, smooth yet pitted. For such a simple object there seem to be a number of challenges when moulding.
  • Water Bottle: curved, non-porous, super smooth and shiny.


Degree of success: What worked/What didn’t? Why? The sample that worked least well was the water bottle (right). The super smooth surface was very unforgiving and stipple marks from the brush detract from the overall finish. I found that adding Lumiere paint to latex effects the curing time, acting as a thickener, you get much less working time with it. The bottle was always the last piece I coated therefore the mix was already stiffer, which may have contributed to the finish.

Brush marks are also visible on the other two samples but not to the same degree. This could be improved by applying with a sponge rather than a brush or by the dipping method.

Sample properties: Look/Feel. Structure/texture/colour. I was initially, really only interested in the golf ball sample, however the photographs I just took for this post have revealed the plaster/latex sample (left) in a much more positive light:

DSCF4920The sample is really lightweight and very flexible, I am very attracted to the undulating edge that has slightly rolled in on itself. It shares similar properties to the ‘petri dish’ style samples in my previous post, in that there are varying degrees of thickness which effect the way light interacts with it. By contrast, however, the jewel like glow has been lost, all the samples made in this more traditional manner are duller and lighter in colour.

As I mentioned it was the golf ball sample that really caught my attention. It was a strange squishy dome shape, that didn’t really hold its shape well. The pitted texture translated better visually, as spots of darkened colour, that to the touch were almost unperceivable. This suggested it could be stuffed or turned inside out, as I handled it I began to stretch it and I noticed how this distorted the appearance of the dots:


Did looking at the sample in a different way reveal anything new? I was able to transform the ungainly, three dimensional, floppy dome shape into something rather more elegant. This totally suits my preference of working flat, but by using the egg cup as a display mechanism, I have developed this into something rather different and unexpected.



How could I use this sample/technique/material/research in the future? I am always on the look out for pattern. I found the distortion of the hexagonal dents in the golf ball to seemingly random spots really exciting. On closer inspection the spots are not perfectly circular and they still reference the original tessellation of the golf ball. I explored this in my sketchbook in a variety of media.

What this means, in terms of my development as an artist, is that I don’t have to use the sample literally, as an object. I can use it as inspiration for my drawing, pattern and colour work. I can use this process to inform other areas of my work that I am more comfortable with- I hadn’t thought about Mixed Media in that respect before.

Was I experimental/logical/controlled/expressive enough? I think this was the first time I genuinely used the inherent properties of the latex to my advantage. (Stretching it over the egg cup like a drum skin.) I admit that that my appreciation of the stretchiness came quite by accident as I explored the sample with my hands but this signifies to me my changing attitude and a growing curiosity.

What do I want/need to do next? I actually want to move away from Latex and experiment with a different material. I could quite happily ‘go deeper’ but have decided to ‘go broader’ to keep the project moving. 



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