Today we got a chance to have one of the tech dems (technical demonstrators) talk to us about the possibilities of printing on fabric. The pictures I’m posting are all samples that have been left behind by previous students, and none of them were made by me. However I think it would be helpful to have them posted here so I have a easy to find reminder of the techniques I could potentially use in the future
In order of preference, possibly my favourite technique that I saw today was Devoré (also known as burn out according to wikipedia). This involves applying a chemical to the fabric which dissolves a layer, creating a translucent pattern. Not only does it look beautiful, I think it would also add a level of professionalism to any product or object made with it, as it is not a technique that is often used at home by amateurs.
My next favourite technique was the use of mylar foil. From what I understand, this involves screen printing a glue or a chemical onto the fabric, and then laying the foil on top and steaming it. Again, I think the is not only aesthetically pleasing, but adds a high level of value and professionalism to the work
Two other interesting techniques I would like to use in future are flocking and “puff”. I assume that puff is a shorter name for the technique? but that’s all the tech dem referred to it as. The flocking adds a soft layer ontop of your fabric by you first printing a layer of glue onto the fabric and then laying the flocking ontop. The puff is made using the same technique (I think) but with puff not flocking, and then steaming the fabric in order for the puff to raise.
The heat transfer was also interesting, which I think involves printing an image on to a special type of sheet, and then ironing it onto the fabric? the result is quite haunting
The next image looks similar to the heat transfer, but was in the “photocopy transfer” section of the folder I was looking through. However the folder did seem poorly organised in places, so I’m not entirely sure
Then we have wax resist, a technique I’ve seen before and personally, has never jumped out at me
And finally felt, which again doesn’t really inspire me, although maybe these are less interesting examples than what is possible to create with it
Today we had an induction into using glaze with ceramics, which is something I have been interested in for a long time but never gotten the chance to explore.
If we want to access clay, the clay store is open Monday 11:30-12, Wednesday 2-2:10, and Thursday 11:30-12, and there is 9am-5pm access to the glaze room. If you want to book a kiln there is a meeting every Friday at 12, and you may only book one test kiln a week per student. (this is more for my own personal notes in case I forget in future)
When mixing your own glazes it is important that you label your glaze with the correct stickers indicating whether it is an irritant or poisonous, or both, as well as the recipe of the glaze. This is in case there is some form of accident, for example someone ingesting your glaze, and the paramedics will be able to easily find what the ingredients were.
It is important that when storing glazes, they are not kept in a powder form. They must always be kept in a liquid state with water, and always in a sealed jar or container. This is to prevent the powder escaping as a dust and being inhaled, which can cause damage to the lungs. When mixing glaze you should also be aware to always where a respirator so as not to inhale any dust that is in the air.
If you are using Fritz in your glaze, keep in mind that it is very unstable and what is known as a “raw glaze”, and should be mixed with clay and flux in order to make it usable. When mixing glazes, a good starting point is 100g of glaze to 100ml of water for earthenware or 100g to 80ml for stoneware, although you might want to change these rations accordingly if making a thicker or more watery glaze. Once your glaze is mixed, you must then pass it through a mesh in order to sieve out any unmixed sediment and ensures that the glaze is even. To do this you should use an old paintbrush to push the glaze through the sieve, and ensure that none of it is wasted, as this could throw off your ratios and have an undesirable effect on the outcome of your glaze.
When applying the glaze to the object it can be brushed, sprayed, or sponged on, and you should be sure to glaze the entire body of an object as leaving unglazed areas will create an uneven tension which can result in cracks. When glazing earthenwear your glaze only needs to be 0.5-1mm thick, however stonewear should be 2-3mm. If you are glazing a cup or a vase, it is important to glaze the rop rim well as the glaze will shift during firing as it becomes more fluid, and to leave the rim on the base unglazed so that it doesn’t become stuck to the firing shelf in the kiln. After being glazed the object should be left to dry overnight before being fired.
Luckily it seems the ceramics people had time and room in the kiln to be able to biscuit fire the marbles that I left them. Though any small hope I had that I might be able to glaze them is well and truly gone, considering it is Friday today, the university is shut on Monday and then our deadline is Tuesday.
But at least they’re biscuit fired, I guess? Slightly more progress than a bunch of unfired marbles.
Also, they very conveniently made a rough bowl to fire my marbles in (considering I left them in a box), although I do hope I didn’t inconvenience whoever it was who went to the trouble of making a bowl because everyone is very busy at the moment. But this is good news for me at least seeing as I originally intended to make a bowl to display the marbles in. Note: I do not take ANY credit for this bowl, it was not made by me, but in terms of demonstration I do now have a 3D representation of how I wanted my marbles to be displayed.
I am currently having a lot of problems which are looking like I’m not going to be able to complete my work to anywhere near what I would consider a finished standard.
I originally planned to make lots and lots of glazed, handmade ceramic marbles, and to place them in the city in a wide, flat handmade dish so that they were open to be interacted with by the public, and to film these interactions that I have a document of the work. It is looking at this point that the marbles aren’t even going to be able to be glazed.
I was intending to go into university over the Easter period as we had a month off, and I live in Cardiff and wanted to be productive. However I came in several times during the first week of the holiday, and was repeatedly told by tutors and tech dems that “you’re not supposed to be here” and that “we’re very busy with the MA students”, which I appreciate is true, and so I didn’t come in the rest of the holiday as I didn’t want to be a bother and figured that they would be less busy (or at least more receptive) once we were officially back in uni. However this doesn’t seem to have been the case, and people are in fact more busy than ever.
It hadn’t quite dawned on me that our deadline for this field project was just over a week coming back from Easter (which is my own fault for not being as aware of the dates as I should have been), but I’m coming to the realisation that there isn’t way that I’ll get my work done in time for the deadline. I spent the Monday we came back mostly panicking, and trying to organise a plan for what I needed to do during the week, and then panicking more because I hadn’t done anything productive that day. Tuesday I went to the ceramics room to see about getting my marbles biscuit fired, and while taking the marbles over realised I had made far far more than I could ever concivably glaze in the time I have left, so only took maybe a 1/3 of them to be fired.
I then spent the rest of the day sharpening lengths of kiln wire into points in order to make a stand to glaze the marbles on, but it took all day to make enough spikes to cover half an A4 slab of clay, which won’t hold even half of the marbles that I left to be fired (which wasn’t anywhere near the full amount to begin with). I also tried to look for either of my tutors to talk about my situation, but couldn’t find them all day. Wednesday I felt my time would be better spent working on the blog at home, seeing as the workshop is only open for the mornings on a wednesday and my hands were still quite raw from making metal spikes the whole day previously, and I think I’m probably better off at this point trying to make a very clear proposal of what my work was intended to be, rather than the actual current outcome of a box of unglazed marbles. Today (Thursday) I didn’t end up going into uni due to some home issues with my mother, and have been working on this blog again. A friend of mine in ceramics has told me that there are no more bisque firings this week, which I would need to do with my spiked base in order to fire the glazed marbles, and I don’t think anyone is willing to give me a glaze induction the week before everyone’s project deadline (and I’m not sure there is any room in any of the glaze firings anyway from what she said). I did try and bring it up with Matt the ceramics when asking about the kiln schedule, but his response was “we are very busy with the ceramics students at the moment” which is fair, and I should have arranged all this before easter, but nevertheless means that there aren’t many options for me at the moment. Tomorrow I hope to be able to find one of my tutors in order to discuss the situation, and work out how I can best move forward. I’ll collect the marbles which I assume have been bisque fired (I was told “we’ll try and fit them in if there’s room”). and see if there’s anything I can do with them. Also I’ll scan some of my sketches relating to the project so I can put them up on the blog and have everything Field related together in one place.
There’s certainly a lesson in time management here somewhere.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble trying to work out how it is exactly that marbles are glazed. I don’t know a huge amount about glaze, but I know that usually when you make a mug or a bowl, you leave the surface that it rests on unglazed so that the glaze (which melts during the firing process) doesn’t stick your object to the bottom of the kiln. I tried to research this using the internet, but there was very little information at all on the subject when I googled “how to glaze marbles”, and mostly got information about people using glass marbles melted down AS a glaze.
When I spoke to Duncan (the ceramics tutor) about it, he was very helpful and explained to me the best course of action was that I should make a clay tray, with spikes embedded in it made out of kiln wire. I could then perch the marbles ontop of these spikes, so they had as little contact as possible with any surface allowing them to be glazed all over. Thinking about it, this is probably why Bennington marbles are known for their distinctive three “eyes”, although it is a shame that there wasn’t any information explaining that to me online.
I have started to make this tray, with a slab of “crack” clay recommended by Duncan (I don’t know why that’s better but I trust his judgement), and sharpening lengths of kiln wire using a hand drill and a sander.
Having thought about it, I’m not going to be able to leave my marbles out covering the floor of an area in town, as they’re going to be a trip hazard. I was very much basing my ideas on the image of Clare Twomey’s “Trophy”, Ai Weiwei’s “Sunflower seeds” and even Twomey’s “Consciousness Conscience” with the objects spread out all over the floor and are so abundant that you can’t ignore them and simply have to navigate around them.
However, these were all in gallery spaces, with willing participants and I’m sure stringent health and safety checks in place, as well as the permission of the gallery. I can’t feasibly go into the centre of town and dump 10,000 marbles (10,000 being a large number off the top of my head, I don’t intend to make 10,000) onto the middle of queen’s street without people becoming angry that I’ve infringed on their public space, as well as me getting in trouble with the counsel or whoever manages public spaces in Cardiff. I could contact someone to try and get permission, but I highly doubt they would give it to me (understandably), and even if I did it in secret at say 5am in the morning, there’s no guarantee it wouldn’t be taken away, and at the very least the university would know that I had done it and I would get in trouble with the ethics committee.
I could try and section off an area of the floor in some manner such as building small fences, but I’m still not sure that would be seen as safe enough so I may as well abandon the idea of them being on the floor. Instead it seems they’re going to have to be contained in some way.
The problem with containers, is that they very much limit people’s likelihood to interact with them. Firstly, if I leave a box of marbles in the middle of the street, people are likely to think that they have somehow been left there by accident and so won’t want to touch or disturb them in any way. Secondly, there’s nothing from stopping someone taking the entire box of marbles and walking off with them, which while it would be interesting kind of defeats the point of the piece of only one person gets to enjoy all of them, it spoils it for everyone else. Also, while I don’t mind lots of individual people stealing my work bit by bit, somebody coming along and up and taking months worth of work would probably be very infuriating. Another problem is that you can’t really see the “abundance” of marbles that I would like there to be, they are very avoidable and unnoticable. Also, as I plan to have the marbles in different colours with different rarities I would like you to be able to see a large range of marbles at one time so that it is apparent that some are more common than others, and you might be able to see the single gold marble. If they are in a box or a tub this might be easy to miss, especially the single gold, and I don’t think people are likely to want to root around through a box if they only think there are a few set colours.
I think a better idea would be a large, flat dish. While it’s still not as appealing or intrusive as the floor, the marbles can at least largely all be on show at one time, and the flat open surface makes it more appealing for people to come over and interact with it. This also gets rid of the problem of people assuming they’ve been left there by mistake, as a dish full of marbles on a stand is not something people accidentally leave around town and is clearly there for the public to interact with.
I don’t want to have to leave a sign or posting of any sort that tells people what the marbles are for or what to do with them, such as “free marbles!”. While they’re not necessarily going to be self explanatory as to what they’re for, and people might not play with them (as I’m not sure most people know how to play marbles) they can investigate them freely without any constraints on their behaviour. If they have more fun throwing the marbles at each other, or making patterns with them on the floor then they are welcome to do that. If I put up any form of signs saying they are there to be played with, people might then think “well I don’t want to play a game of marbles, so I won’t bother going over and looking at them”.
This is also why I want to film the marbles from afar as the day progresses. I would very much like a document of the work, that it existed, and that people’s response to it. But if people are in any way aware that they are being filmed or documented, this is again going to scare them off from interacting with them, or their behaviour will be unnatural as they are self aware of being recorded. This will ruin the chance of any form of spontaneity that I hope might occur, and while I could document people’s behaviour in a notepad by watching from afar that really isn’t a very good visual document of what happened. I have spoken to Ingrid about this, and she said that I’m going to have to apply to the ethics board if I wanted to film people in public, as even though people are filmed in public all the time by CCTV cameras, in the background of photos etc this is is a different context where I am specifically setting out to document somebody’s behaviour without their permission or knowledge. This is a bit of a setback, as I think it is also an important part of the project that it is documented correctly, and I will have to look into applying for ethics permission as I have no idea what that involves. Ingrid also said that I would be allowed to leave the marbles on the floor of the gallery space in the university, but the problem with that is that the response that a bunch of art students have, seeing a piece of art, inside their art university, is going to be very different than the response of a person in the street. For example, I walked through the gallery space the other day and saw maybe 20 bananas hanging from the ceiling, and thought nothing of it. In fact, I assumed the bananas were there to see whether or not people would start taking them (which in fact they did over the week), and I considered replacing the empty banana skins with new fresh bananas, or even something else like a carrot, just in order to baffle the artist. This is certainly not the same reaction it would have had to the general public, and I want to make a piece of work that enriches the experience of “The City”, rather than an exclusive minority of art students.
I originally intended to make the marbles by using a press mold, however I found it was easier to roll the smaller marbles by hand and to use the press mold for the larger marbles