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Pic of the Week: Jamie Barnes, UCLan (plus 'Tip of the Week' and other news)

February 26, 2015 by Georgia Rodger   Comments (0)

Pic of the Week: UCLan's AA2A artist, Jamie Barnes' 'Advance Guard', hand-coloured trace monotype print

You can see more of Jamie's work at http://aa2a.biz/pg/profile/jamie14

Tip of the Week from AA2A artists to students (as featured in our self-employment talks): 'Join as many professional networks as you can, and make the most of everything they offer.' AA2A artist, Derby Uni, (2013-14).

Other news:  AA2A artists should have recieved the latest artists newsletter from us earlier this week.  If you didn't, please get in touch as we may need to check your email address. Also we want your flyers/posters/etc! If you have any exhibitions please tell us so we can add it to our press file.  You can add it to the exhibitions listings on Dotbiz and email us any flyers/promotion.  There might be some extra promotion we can do for you too...

Best wishes,

The AA2A Team (Wendy, Georgia & Jo)

Casting the watering-can head- Technicalities of casting in resin

February 25, 2015 by Kirsty E Smith   Comments (0)

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Images for this blog post can be found here. http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/24614/resin-casting-rose-wateringcan-head

Having spent some time thinking about a form for a sculpture which would incorporate a clear cast of the rose watering-can head I decided that it was time to get casting so it was another trip to  www.mouldcraft.co.uk in Sheffield to buy some resin. Andy at MouldCraft seemed pleased to see me; he supplies mostly by mail orders so he doesn’t often get to see his customers face to face. I think next time I visit I will take in my casts and moulds to show him.

I prepared the two part mould by wrapping it securely in duct tape and then mixed the resin and catalyst ready for the first pour. This cast had to be pored in two stages as I wanted to embed a ‘stalk’ of copper pipe within it. Before preparing the mould I measured the capacity of half of the mould. I did this by putting the mould on my digital scales and then filling it with water and seeing what it weighed then. However I think a more accurate way would have been to have measured it by volume. 

Measuring the capacity of the mould is important as this is how you know how much resin to mix up. But with such small quantities it can be quite a challenge. Andy at Mouldcraft had given me a small syringe to measure my catalyst. The ratio is 100 parts resin to 2 parts catalyst. I was measuring the resin by putting my plastic mixing beaker on the scales adding 100g of resin and then adding 2ml of catalyst. Obviously this depends on the resin and catalyst having the same weight per ML . All I am saying is that it is fairly crucial to get the correct amount of catalyst and also to ensure that it is mixed very thoroughly. Too little catalyst and your cast will never properly cure and will have a sticky finish. Too much and I think you are more likely to get stress fractures and it might affect the shrinkage too. I’m not completely sure about that but I have been reading how to cast in resin forums quite a bit recently!

I used a piece of reclaimed copper pipe that I discovered in the attic of my new house. This little fact seems to add to the story of this sculpture. It will be my first www.frillipmoolog.co.uk 'being' since relocating to Sheffield in Oct 2014.

After cleaning the layers of paint off the pipe I made three equally spaced holes and screwed in small copper screws. These are a belt and braces way of ensuring that when the pipe is set within the resin that it will definitely not pull out or be at all loose. 

After 24 hours of curing it was time to position the pipe within the mould and pour in a second batch of resin. 

To ensure the pipe was perfectly vertical and stayed in place while the resin was curing I used a test tube stand from Sheffield College science department. It was perfect for the job!

After curing I opened the mould and was able to see my completed clear resin cast. 

Again the finish wasn’t perfect; the surface was a bit sticky, there was a very small amount of leakage along the seam of the mould (which I was able to remove with a scalpel) and also a small air bubble at the base of the copper ‘stalk’. But it is definitely an improvement on my previous cast of small copper elbow joint (see previous image album).

Another thing that I learnt after reading more resin casting forums online is that you should always work in a room which is room temperature. I am definitely learning!

Learning from mistakes- it's all part of the learning process

February 24, 2015 by Kirsty E Smith   Comments (0)

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Images for this blog post are here http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/24603/mould-and-casting-pipe-joint

While I was mulling over ideas of sculptural forms for my rose head casting I decided to get on and make another silicone mould. Well I always say, “I if you learn by your mistakes  then I’m a genius” What I mean is that during this process I did seem to make quite a few mistakes. but really mistakes are a very important part of the learning process.

First I rushed when I set up wooden shutters with just blobs of clay to support the walls while the first half of the mould was poured. As you can see from the image in the linked photo album a certain amount of the silicone mixture did leak out before it fully cured. But luckily the mould was fine; it was a bit thin in one area but intact with no holes so all quite useable.

Before pouring the second half Joe, the technician, pointed out that I would need to add a stem of clay to ensure that I had a pour hole for pouring in the resin when I got to that stage. 

For the second stage I put quite a bit more effort and attention to detail into the supporting of the walls with wet clay and also running a small bead of clay around the edge of the. But it was so annoying when I later realised that I had completely forgotten to spray the mould and copper pipe with release spray before pouring in my second batch of silicone. AArg I was annoyed with myself

But when I came to open it up after leaving it for 24 hours to cure I was very lucky and I did manage to get the two halves to separate successfully.

Next I used a scalpel to cut the pour hole so that it was a circle rather than just a semi circle.

Joe suggested taping the two halves together with duct tape before filling the mould with clear resin but no matter how tightly I taped the halves together I could still see a small gap opening in one of the edges inside the mould. So I decided to (gently, but firmly) grip the prepared mould in a vice and leave it there while the clear resin cured.

When I did open the mould to inspect the cast I was a bit disappointed. The surface is quite blemished and there are a couple of air bubbles. 

Possible causes could be: 

- The resin and catalyst weren’t mixed together thoroughly enough. This can take 5 to 8 minutes to do.

-Did I spray the mould with release agent before filling with acrylic? I really can’t remember.

-Should I have rotated the mould as I poured the acrylic in. This would surely have helped to avoid the air gaps. 

It may be blemished but I do still like this strange little object and so I can see me incorporating it into a small sculpture very soon. 

Thoughts on Form and also Sourcing Materials

February 12, 2015 by Kirsty E Smith   Comments (0)

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Accompanying images for this blog post can be seen here. http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/24481/form-and-materials-for-rose-watering-can-head-piece

My work commitments have been very variable so I have had to get into the studios any time that I can. Fortunately the staff at Sheffield College have been really flexible too and actually being in the workshops on busy days with lots of students around and also quiet days with only a handful of people in has actually been really nice. There is always a good vibe in the studios.

I have also been really pleased that very often it is a student who starts a conversation with me rather than me having to initiate conversations. I like these informal chats; it gives me a chance to explain a bit about what I am doing and is also a chance for me to ask about their own work. As I have usually been in the 3D workshop there is always something physical to talk about; recently the Foundation students have been making prototypes of their own chair and seating designs. 

Over the past few weeks I have made another two part silicone mould and also cast using crystal clear resin (again sourced from www.mouldcraft.co.uk in Sheffield.)

More details of this in the next blog post. 

I sketched some ideas for a small sculpture which would incorporate the cast acrylic watering can rose head. At first I wanted to cut the base from sponge and coat it in wax. I have used this technique before and really like the very strange and slightly sinister feel that wax coated sponge gives. But I knew that I really wanted a large piece of sponge (45cm) diameter 10cm thick and one with an open texture and largish holes. After a couple of weeks of searching without success I decided to revise my design.

The form will still be the same but this time the sloped base will be covered in an unusual knitted metallic fabric. It was sourced from a stall in the Birmingham Rag Market but is virtually the same as the fabric which is used to cover pan scourers. 

I love visiting factories and sourcing materials that I use is really important to me. Stories are important and the story of sourcing materials adds a very personal additional layer to the finished sculpture (being). For me I suppose it is part of their own personal DNA. 

A couple of years ago I visited the Neotrims factory in Leicester and was wowed by the use of really very old sock knitting machines which had been adapted to enable them to knit modern day jacket and jumper cuffs, day-glo shoe laces, tubes of surgical bandage and scratchy pan scouring fabrics.

British manufacturing heritage is something which I am fairly obsessed with and so using a fabric which is not only made primarily for a very non glamorous purpose (pan scrubbing) and has been made using antiquated machinery from the Victorian age really really appeals to me.

The following blog post will show more of the resin casting process. 

Making my first Silicone Mould

January 10, 2015 by Kirsty E Smith   Comments (0)

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Images which accompany this post are here.
http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/24018/silicone-mould-making-watering-can-rose-head

Before the Christmas holidays I got into the college and finally got started. 

After a bit of research I discovered that there is a mould making and casting materials supplier based in Sheffield so after a phone enquiry I went to collect my first batch of silicone. I always like to visit suppliers in person when I can and as I have only recently moved to Sheffield it was an excuse to visit a trading estate that I hadn’t been to before.

When I got into the 3D workshops at Sheffield college the staff there were really helpful. 

After some discussion with Val, the ceramics tutor, I decided to make my first mould from a lovely old copper rose watering can head. I really like the feel and surface of the aged copper and would usually incorporate an old metal object such as this into one of my www.frillipmoolog.co.uk sculptures (beings) but for this AA2A residency I have decided to experiment with casting objects in resin and then use the resin objects as components of a new sculptures (being). 

So first I needed to make a mould which would be suitable to cast resin in. 

Silicone was the right material. Not the cheapest but I have already worked with latex in the past and wanted to try something new.

Joe, the technician in the 3D workshop has experience of casting in resin so he was  a great help; supplying me with spray release agent and clay to build my mould walls. He also reminded me of the basics of two part mould making such as using a coin to make locator lugs so that when you fit the completed parts of the mould together they are perfectly aligned. 

I had hoped to have got back into Sheffield college and cast using this mould but due to work and family commitments that didn’t happen. It is January now and time to get back on with it!

Hello Sheffield relocating and starting AA2A residency

January 9, 2015 by Kirsty E Smith   Comments (0)

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I relocated to Sheffield from The Midlands at the beginning of October 2014 so I was delighted to be accepted as one of the AA2A artists at Sheffield College for the AA2A 2014/15 session. After a few weeks of unpacking boxes and starting to get settled into my new house I made it down to the college. Just being able to ‘pop-in’ and say hello to the tutors and find out more about their time tables and what students they were teaching was a great start. And everyone made me feel so welcome.

On Wed 26th Nov I did my first presentation to a group of about 20 students. Some were Art and Design Access students and others were on the Art and Design Foundation course. I did a talk with a Powerpoint slide show of images. This was meant to be an introduction to my practice so I included images which illustrated my eclectic range of sources of inspiration. (Really so much of my practice is about looking and thinking... maybe too much thinking and not enough making at the moment.) I also included a few photos taken in my studio which gave some insight into the making process of a few of my Frillip Moolog sculptures (beings).

As always I found it hard to edit images for the presentation but it was a good exercise for me as it reminded me of all that I have done since graduating back in 2006 (seems so long ago now). And also getting the balance right where you give a talk which is inspirational and encouraging to students without being overwhelming and full of just too much information and rambling anecdotes is an extremely difficult challenge! 

In the next blog post I actually get into the studio and start making.

#DVAFACETS - talks by Adrian and Sue

November 27, 2014 by Coventry University   Comments (0)

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Inspiring talks by Adrian Baynes and Sue Swain today as part of our students' #DVAFACETS series

You can tell our students were impressed when you hear 'fantastic' in a whisper as the artists show their work...!

Looking forward to Kumyoung Kwon and Amy Lunn's talks early next year!

:-)

AA2A Artists Newsletter: out now!

November 21, 2014 by Georgia Rodger   Comments (0)

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Hi AA2A artists

You should have received by email the first artists newsletter today. You can also find it here: AA2A Artists Newsletter

Best wishes

Georgia

Welcome (and how to set up your profile page)

October 16, 2014 by Georgia Rodger   Comments (2)

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Welcome to AA2A.   Its great to be starting a new AA2A year, even though its very hectic here, as we try to get all of you registered on the site.

Please can you upload an image of yourself so that students can recognise you when you're in the college.  Also could you please fill in the 'About me' section of your profile page with the text you wrote in Question 14 of your application form ('Image and accompanying information for the website').  Let us or your college know if you have problems with this.

Do have a look at our training videos 'Getting started' and 'Uploading images and blogs'.  These are only about 8 minutes long and can be found in the Artists training area of our parallel website AA2A.org  http://www.aa2a.org/artists_menu/training

More than anything, we really hope you have a good AA2A experience and enjoy using this site.

All for now
Georgia and the AA2A team (Wendy and Jo)

Pic of the Week: Melanie Milne, Staffs Uni (plus Tip of the Week & funding news)...

July 25, 2014 by Wendy Mason   Comments (0)

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Pic of the Week: Staffordshire University's AA2A artist Melanie Milne's experimental print  'Mr. Ostrich'

 

Tip of the Week (as featured in our self-employment talks):

'Aim to continue growing as a creative - learn new skills, meet new people & institutions & push yourself.'    Ralph Overill  AA2A artist at Chelmsford College (2013-14)  

Other news:

We're delighted to announce that we've been successful in our application for funding from Arts Council England's Grants for the Arts Lottery fund. This will allow us to continue running and developing AA2A. This year we will be piloting 'AA2A Plus' - a collaboration between York Museums Trust and York College, which will give two of their artists the opportunity to work with the Trust's collection and get 10 days paid work as well.