Aims: To cast one of my Balloon Pebbles in an alternative material: Create a silicone mould to cast a clear resin duplicate.
Why did I select this material/process/approach? Curiosity of new materials informed my choices. I felt very inspired by Rachel Whiteread’s resin castings and have been a long time admirer of Meredith Woolnough’s encapsulations, I simply wanted to experience these materials myself.
Sample properties: Look/Feel. Structure/texture/colour. As expected the resin casting is a perfect copy of the plaster original.
Where the resin was in contact with the silicone the finish is like frosted glass. Only on the top, where there was contact with air, have I achieved the glossy, transparent surface I was expecting. This surprised me because in the tutorials I had read, people complained that the exposed resin can remain sticky and not cure properly (suggesting sealing with cling film or the like). This was not my experience.
A rather unusual lip has formed in an irregular circle shape, this was due to the hot glue seal I used to adhere the plaster sample to the base and prevent seepage. At the time I worried about this but I have decided it is one of those serendipitous imperfections that create interest and add character. It creates a clear window through which the magnified grid can be viewed. There is a happy contrast between rounded and straight edged shapes in this sample.
The frosted finish and uneven edges could be addressed by polishing and buffing. Although it might be difficult over the relief texture it would be possible, had I chosen a more complex texture rather than the grid I don’t know how a clear surface could be achieved. Clearly, if I were to develop this investigation, more technical research would be required to solve this issue.
Did I feel comfortable with the materials/techniques? Was there anything I particularly enjoyed? It was surprisingly easy to achieve the result I did. I admit I was a bit apprehensive about mixing chemicals, measuring proportions and dealing with the Health and Safety issues, but it was really much more straight forward than I imagined.
The above photograph shows how I have been using drawing to plan and record my methods. Below is an image of the silicone mould, such a lot of work went into preparing and using it, it seems a shame not to feature it.
How does this relate to my contextual research?
In my sketchbook, I copied out a quote by Rachel Whiteread from Mullins¹,
“A lot of the work I do involves pushing materials to the limit. With the resin pieces, the people I spoke to about the material, the chemists, were saying that the scale of what I wanted to do was impossible. The materials were designed for making paperweights, very small objects. I spent a long time figuring out how I could push it. Playing with materials is very much part of my ongoing investigation.”
This seemed particularly fitting as I rushed my way through this whistle-stop tour of moulding and casting. It highlighted to me that all I had created was indeed a paperweight! I thought about her Water Tower project in Manhattan, in all it majesty, and felt my sample was rather inadequate. The realisation that a comparison between my first try at resin casting with the carefully researched and developed final product of an established artist, was actually really not helpful! This offered me a different perspective on sampling and indeed on this course as a whole. How can I ever hope to ‘push materials to the limits’ without trying them first!
Was I experimental/logical/controlled/expressive enough? I had to be methodical and controlled for this technical experiment because of the nature of the unfamiliar products I was trying. I often wish my art was more expressive but this was one occasion where my organisation and logical approach was useful.
¹ MULLINS, C. Rachel Whiteread (2004) TATE PUBLISHINGS. P70