Friday, March 4, 2011

Fantastic Plastic

For Friday Focus this week, I experimented with supermarket rubbish bags.  Truly, I did.  Ever since i read Kim Thittichai's Hot Textiles, I have been dying to have a go at her techniques. She is an extremely well known textile and surface artist in the UK and has training in sculpture.  You can view videos of her here (you will have to log in but it's free) and here.   Some of the surfaces she creates and  those by others in the book are simply gorgeous.  I only played with plastic bags today, but there are all sorts of other synthetics to play with as well. What I experimented with was layering and fusing plastics with the iron. 

My technique was pretty simple.  I used a large leaflet of parchment paper on my ironing mat, simply put the plastic between and ironed.  Because the parchment paper is see through, I could see what was going on.  Most effects only needed one or two swipes with a hot iron, then peel off the parchment when cool.

One effect in particular which I really liked was in the encyclopedia of machine embroidery.  I have just taken the last hour to try and find it.  I thought it was bubble wrap and plastic with threads captured between, however it wasn't although it really looked like it.  I tried to get a similar sort of effect.
This is a blue shopping bag and bubble wrap layered together.  The white you see is holes (the bubbles burst from the heat)
This is the same but with some blue thread trapped between
I think the first one is closest to what I was after and with some free motion embroidery, would probably be excellent for bubbles under water (I see sea dragons in it's future).
This is some bubble wrap that had a green tinge to it.  I liked the way the colour formed around where the  bubbles were (how to make coloured bubble wrap).
I trapped some autumn leaves between two bag layers, it worked, but the leaves were very brittle and probably needed to be treated with some glycerine or PVA to stop them breaking otherwise any stitching would shatter them.
This is some of the plastic mesh bag oranges come in trapped between two layers.  It was interesting that it shrunk more when it was intact (top) whereas, at the bottom, it was loose and didnt' shrink.
Several layers of two colours layered in sheets
Many many layers of the green created this rocky sort of texture
This was made with lots of scrunched up pieces
This shows what happens with one or two flat layers.  The top one shows how the plastic opens up to create and airy texture, while the bottom shows how the plastic laminated with lots of layers.
This sample has many layers of plastic, but they are added one by one and have angelina layered between them.  Adding the pieces one by one allows the creation of the holes, which is a great texture, also shown below:

This is one layer of plastic ironed onto a non thermoreactive plastic (thick acetate).  I really like the way the bag plastic becomes an open texture like this.  If it is heated  on it's own between parchment layers, not only does it break up like this it shrinks.  It needs a substrate or a foundation under it to do this.
I really like this texture and have many ideas about using it, but I wanted to try one more experiment before the end of the day.  I overlapped pieces slightly on a sheet of fusible, then heated.  And look what I got!
This sample was the piece d' resistance.  All of the sheets have fragmented and the overlaps create wonderful colours.  The white flecks you see are holes in the plastic, not reflections.  My mind is now spinning with ways to use this new textile.  It can be ironed on to just about any surface and I really just want to get embroidering with it.  You will see this piece again in another work.
so I have had a very productive day, hope you did too