3.2; Casting within a Plastic Bag

Aims: Explore how a plastic bag of plaster can be manipulated by pressing it onto a textural surface. 

Why did I select this material/process/approach? Placing a liquid material into a vessel and manipulating the surface by allowing it to rest on a textured object as it hardens, really appealed to me. I like the fact the material will be contained and will only pick up external detail through a protective layer.

During earlier experiments (3.1, Moulding from a surface) I had to keep the gauge of my knitted swatches fairly tight to prevent seepage, even then silicone still escaped through the material. The sample below has been inverted so the ‘stalactites’ have become ‘stalagmites’. Displaying mouldings upside down to defy the forces of gravity is something I noticed that both Rebecca Fairley and Victoria Ferrand Scott have done).


Using a plastic bag as a method of containment will allow me to explore more open gauge knitting, meshes and even surfaces with holes in.

Sample properties: Look/Feel. Structure/texture/colour.

Both samples are quite thin rectangles of pure white plaster. The regularity of the patterns is pleasing to me but I think the variation of detail from quite sharp at the edges to much softer at the centres adds more interest than if they had been perfect all over.

Degree of success: What worked/What didn’t? Why? I have been looking at the sculptural work of Jeff Muhs (in sketchbook, I must add this in another post) he achieves curves that are much more bulging. I have to say I was expecting the plaster in my samples to be a bit more dramatic and dynamic but it seems to have settled fairly evenly, not really challenging it’s container. I thought about reasons for this: plastic bag too thick? Not weighted heavily enough? The bags were sealed, should they have been left open?

I investigated these possible solutions in another set of samples. I found that these had greater definition but also displayed more marks from the bags themselves:

In fact on the reverse of the samples the thinner plastic was so deeply embedded I couldn’t remove it:


How does this relate to my contextual research and personal development? I found the bubbles, creases and retention of the bags more annoying than I probably should. Having been so inspired by Victoria Ferrand Scott’s marble-like pristine finishes, I judged these as ‘failures’. In hindsight, I wonder if this was perhaps a bit short-sighted of me? There are some lovely shapes, patterns and textures hiding on the backs of these samples. Yet again, I need to remind myself of my tutors advise to seek imperfections, I had no idea my requirement for perfection was so deep seated but it seems like it is going to be a hard habit to break.

What do I want/need to do next? I have just discovered Maarten de Ceulaer’s balloon bowls via themethodcase.com, each of his creations is unique and he positively celebrates imperfection. I need time to reflect on his technique and approach, then I think I would like to try using balloons instead of plastic bags.

It might also be cathartic to revisit the imperfections on the reverse of my samples and draw from these, if time permits.


2 thoughts on “3.2; Casting within a Plastic Bag”

  1. What a great find: Maarten de Ceulaer. His things are spot on! I have to agree with you on the plastic residual marks, I too struggle to like that aspect in my own work. Have you tried sanding one of the samples to obscure some of the ‘seams’ ? I thought Julia Banford made stunning work with the use of sanding for her final project for MMT. I haven’t yet tried it myself to any great extent but it is an embelishment option, isn’t it?.


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