3.1; Playing with Latex (2)

Aims:

  • to explore the addition of colour to liquid latex, using Jacquard Lumiere.
  • to capture textures contained within the circular confines of a pot.

Why did I select this process/approach? I confined my exploration to Lumiere and a small, circular pot to set myself some limitations. This did control the outcome to a certain degree but there was still plenty of room for surprises and discovery.

Sample properties: Look/Feel. Structure/texture/colour. I produced a series of latex discs, this is a selection of my favourites:

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The samples are roughly the same size although they vary in thickness. I often tilted the pots to achieve variation to the density within a single sample. This had the effect of producing a contrast between opacity and translucency. The sample bottom right was so thin on one side it began to disintegrate as I removed it from the mould, the linear strings that remain suggest the texture in a fragile and damaged way.

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I resisted the urge to trim the discs into true circles, celebrating the imperfection. In some cases this has led to the latex that has seeped under the mould, appearing on top. This reveals the contrasting texture below, making the samples more interesting.

Colour-wise, the Lumiere paint was a fantastic choice for colouring the latex. In it’s natural state the latex is like a pool of honey, it has a visceral, inner glow that can be enhanced by the addition of this medium. When first cast, cleaned and buffed the latex appears jewel like, unfortunately when exposed to the environment, dust particles soon dull this shiny, glowing finish. Time is also unkind, leading to deterioration and discolouration.

 

 

 

Degree of success: What worked/What didn’t? Why? (I am actually starting to wonder about the validity of this question, given that I do not have a finished outcome in mind, all samples are experimental- therefore they all ‘work’).

When comparing the samples above, I would be tempted to say the one of the left is ‘more successful’ because it is tidier. Since I am trying to move away from judgements such as these I would actually suggest the ‘imperfect’ sample on the right is more interesting because it compares the two contrasting sides of the surface I was moulding.

Since latex adheres so potently to fabrics, encapsulation seemed a good alternative to casting. In the sample left, the open weave mesh remains raised from the surface and the colour of each element compliments the other, producing an effective sample. On the right, however, the very tight gauge of the tulle is totally enrobed in latex. The matching colour doesn’t help either. Unless I wanted to strength latex by adding a layer of almost unperceivable reinforcement, I wouldn’t choose this combination again.

Did I discover anything new or unexpected? My most surprising discovery was the combination of latex and dry sand. I was expecting to peel the latex away, brush off any residual grains and reveal a very fine grainy texture. This did not happen! Latex has been absorbed by the sand creating a strange foamy texture that is almost like brown bread in both look and feel.

 

How does this relate to my contextual research and tutor feedback? As I made the samples, I kept thinking about Sanne Schuurman. I love the often surprising way she exploits the properties of materials to create new surfaces that exist as just that- new surfaces. I find the way the Envisions Group work fascinating: showcasing “everything but the end product.” ¹ The way they invite us to view the developmental stage of product design is really refreshing and exciting.

These contextual thoughts were helpful because this was the way my tutor suggested I should approach mixed media: “Rather than ‘is this mixed media enough’ perhaps the question could be ‘have I transformed the materials?’ ” and “Try not to control the outcome of the investigation” ² I feel I have a much greater understanding of what she means now and actually enjoyed working in this manner.

Was I experimental/logical/controlled/expressive enough? For once I am quite happy with the level of experimentation I achieved. This was balanced by the limitations I put in place at the beginning which helped me maintain focus. Could I have been more extreme? Yes- but I think I am heading in the right direction!

What do I want/need to do next? A later exercise in the course requires development of samples using techniques learnt in earlier parts. I think this set of samples hold the potential for puncturing, stitching and joining.

I also used my Sanne Schuurman research to change the way I perceive ‘surfaces’ for moulding and casting using this approach. I used drawings in my sketchbook to explore the possibilities this opened up to me; It might be good to test some of these by sampling.

¹ http://sanneschuurman.com/portfolio_page/envisions

² Morton C. MMT Assignment 2 Feedback (May 2017)

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