3.2; Casting Within a Balloon

Aims: Revisit my last investigation, substituting a balloon for the plastic bags.

Why did I select this material/process/approach? Plaster contained within a plastic bag revealed much more about the bag than the texture that I was trying to impress. I wanted to push the plaster onto the surfaces with more force to create a more dramatic and bulging effect. I was afraid the bags might split, latex offered greater strength and elasticity.

Degree of success: What worked/What didn’t? Why? For anyone attempting to try filling a balloon with plaster I would advise caution! Let’s just say I was glad that I was outside! A basic understanding of physics (or “a bit of common sense”- my husband) might have prevented the volcanic eruptions that occurred as I tried to force more plaster into the vessel by blowing into it through a straw… I felt a bit defeated as I continued working with the very small packages I had managed to create but actually their reduced size turned out to be a blessing…

Sample properties: Look/Feel. Structure/texture/colour. Being so much smaller than I had originally envisaged (having been studying Maarten de Ceulaer) the samples now fitted into the palm of my hand. I found them extremely tactile and comforting to hold.

I really like the sugary colours, which are a lot softer and sweeter than I would usually tend to work with. The latex has a sheen that invites touch and I suppose it is almost sensual the way it clings to the curves of the imprinted textures. I also noted an almost edible appeal, similar to that of a scented candle or a perfumed soap. This is an interesting observation, the samples appealed to my sense of smell and taste despite being unscented.

Although I had been looking at Rachel Dein, Rachel Whiteread and Victoria Ferrand Scott’s predominantly achromatic works, I was reluctant to unwrap the samples, really enjoying qualities coloured latex evoked. However, after 24 hours or so, some of the latex began to separate from the plaster inside.


This gentle slackening was attractive for a period of time but eventually the latex lost it’s grip on the texture within, giving me little choice but to remove the coverings:


How does this relate to my contextual research? There are definite similarities between the sample on the right and Ferrand Scott’s ‘Restraint’. The repetition of bulging squares with a pristine finish in both, reminds me of a Georgia O’Keeffe landscape with sensuous curves and undulations. When I made bulging domes from knitted samples I picked up texture and fibres which related more to Rebecca Fairley’s concrete samples. It is interesting to me that both artists have chosen to present their work as groups or families, displayed laid on the floor, close to one another in grid format, neither joined nor touching. These multiple samples are square, how would I present my group of circles?

How does my learning relate to tutor feedback/personal development? Personally, I prefer the samples above but my tutor’s comments caused me to look carefully at this damaged casting:

I can appreciate the difference that imperfection has made:

Did I feel comfortable with the materials/techniques? Was there anything I particularly enjoyed? Despite the mess, I really did enjoy this making session…


After this set of balloon castings I began experimenting with adding colour to the plaster, to compensate for the loss of the latex coverings. I also tried other containers. I found myself deeply immersed in the investigation, this felt very different to when I have planned in advance what I want to make: I was definitely playing! This was something else that my tutor has encouraged.

What do I want/need to do next? Record the second part of this ‘play session’ where I used colour.





8 thoughts on “3.2; Casting Within a Balloon”

    1. I have, Inger has produced some amazing samples (I’m very envious!) As she has already done Part 4, I’m a bit further behind. I am hoping Printing will be more ‘my thing’ as it will involve mark making, pattern and colour…
      Glad to have you following, are you following the other Nicky (house of knitting) she is very inspirational


  1. Well done Nicola for the playful approach, I love what I see here. Good idea to photo the table (mine was equally messy). I also find part three brings forth a more playful approach. Many because we are in so unfamiliar territory as textile people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that would be lovely! There was plaster everywhere- up the fence, all over the windows and the dog… At least I know I’m not afraid to make a mess anymore. I do feel like I have opened up to new ideas through part 3. I just discovered intense blocks and they are filling me with joy, I feel my drawing is improving but I’ll get to that.on my blog soon enough.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s