Part 3, Assignment 3, Project 1. Molding from a surface and embellishing the result.

I have been experimenting with Sculptamold, a product which can be used both for casting and for moulding, and wondered if I could make a bowl somehow, using a small football.   A thick layer of Sculptamold was pressed onto the ball, the edges were tidied with a knife, and a pattern was made over the surface, also with knife.

The difference between Sculptamold and air drying clay is the consistency.  You can’t flatten it with a rolling pin, for example, because it’s too sticky.  However, it’s simple to make these sweeping gestures across the surface with your fingers, something not so easy with clay, which ends up with little spurs at the end of the sweeping movement.  The Sculptamold seems to settle under its own gravity.  This is hard to explain; I was getting a little obsessed with material properties and not really thinking about textiles at all ..


Balanced on a jam jar to dry
Back view

When the Sculptamold dries, it shrinks a little, becomes more delicate and much lighter in weight.   It also becomes very white, very pure looking.    The inside surface was smooth, but picked up the faint marks on the football.  It has become smooth on the inner surface under its own weight while the outer layer is fairly rough.   I don’t know how strong it is, and need to make a special piece for researching the smash potential.


I like the Ying Yang shadow effect


I was pleased with this, mostly because I felt I have discovered something new.  However, so far it had been a very nerdy exploration which probably satisfies no-one but me, and certainly has nothing to do with Textiles!

Moving on with the Sample

So how could I make this relevant to  Textiling, I asked myself.  I was concurrently experimenting with casting into plastic bags, while the bowl was drying, and I thought about the possibilities of applying embroidery to various surfaces.  How could I do this?  I looked on the internet, browsed in Bath Library, and found these two artists whose work is relevant.

Diem Chau is an artist based in Seattle, USA.  She embroiders designs onto silk, which is then attached to porcelain.  Her work is very fine and delicate; she embroiders onto silk which is then attached to thrift store porcelain with archival grade glue.

Severija Inčirauskaitę-Kriaunevičienę cross-stitches onto metal that has had holes drilled into it.  The website has some eye-popping examples of her work, I especially like her embroidered cars.

I chose to try applying French Knots because their chunky structure to make application easier, and they have an interesting texture.  I bought some special fabric glue to experiment with on some scraps, it worked well, easier than I expected.  Next I thought about the surface to embroider on.  It couldn’t be too thick because that would look clumpy and obvious.  Hunting through my fabric stash I found some vintage nylon net curtain fabric inherited from my mother.  It is very smooth, a similar colour to the Sculptamold surface, and delicate enough to glue on easily.  If I was to continue using this technique I would borrow Diem Chau’s method of using silk.

Apart from the mechanics of applying embroidery, what was I thinking about?  Bizarre things actually, in fact I have started a special sketchbook to explore my more wayout ideas!   I was remembering the French artist, Odilon Redon, who we studied in Drawing 1.  There is more about him on the Musée d’Orsay website Here

He speaks to a lot of people with his art.  The strange things at the back of our minds.  These are relevant to my pot.  Let’s just go with it.

Odilon Redon, Head of a Martyr, 1877
Odilon Redon, Visage Germination, 1888

Odilon Redon included many images of small, disembodied heads on his charcoal works, in particular (my observation).  I made a quick tribute sketch myself (made while studying Drawing 1) and have gone back to it for inspiration.


.. so I was thinking about bowls, blobs and heads .. then even a bit of Francis Bacon .. heads thrusting forward on stalks

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

and even Jabberwocky, (I was really getting enthusiastic now!)

John Tenniel, Illustration to the Poem Jabberwocky, 1871.  First published in Carroll, Lewis, 1871.  Through the 

I made some sketchbook pages:

I thought about the form I used for a wrapping experiment in Part 2, where rice was put into a plastic bag and wrapped with duct tape, and eventually wrapped with many layers of string.  The rice-filled bag had to be pierced, eventually, to release the tape and rice from the wrapping sample.  I remember the explosion of rice, the pressure that must have been in that taped plastic bag.


I thought about things which might ‘explode’ from my Sculptamold pot.  Instead of grains of rice, I thought about tiny heads.  I drew in my sketchbook :



While browsing Drawing 1, I even came across the very first exercise I ever did with the OCA – Experimenting with Mark-Making, which looks remarkably similar.  (I remember making this drawing to an internet Blue Grass radio station, and getting very annoyed with the lyrics of one of the songs; I think I wrote some of the words down).


I thought about the scars that might be left behind on the inner surface of the pot.  They would be red and raw; red was a good colour to embroider with.  Below is an image of the technique and materials I used (inspired by Diem Chau, see link above).  French knots worked very closely together on fine vintage nylon net curtain.


The red French knots were cut out and glued to the inner surface of the bowl.



And this is as far as I have got.  More French knots will be added to the bowl before Assessment.  However, I am wondering whether to add some tiny clay heads on wire stalks, emerging from the pot!  Like this, perhaps (garden wire and air-drying clay).

Or maybe even simple strands of yarn.  I imagine the bowl as some kind of exploded living thing, like a seed case or something more intangible, like the ideas mulled over, above.

Project to be continued ..

NB:  My tutor will not be seeing the pot itself because I don’t want to risk posting it.  Once in the post, using a well padded box, for Assessment, will be enough.







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