lesleyb's Friends' blogs

PCJS school artist-in-residence

September 18, 2015 by Jan Haskins   Comments (0)

Well it's been a while since my last blog post! The images I've just uploaded have come from an artist-in-residence at Pocklington Community Junior School. It's been a long and very enjoyable process involving lots of painting and some fantastic work by the children. The project started with the children's ideas on what 'Our School' meant to them and I've tried to stay as close as possible to what they expressed in images and words. These are fantastically enthusiastic and creative children who were absolutely great to work with and a credit to themselves as well as their school.

There are so many people to thank - not least the children - but also my creative associate Kate Noble who got me involved in the first place and who helped me to organise and run the workshops. She has been brilliant throughout. Also, this project would not have happened without the support of Headteacher Carole Fulstow, who moved onto a new school in February, and her successor Alex Reppold who has overseen the final stages and installation of the outdoor piece. The project was funded by the Friends of PCJS who invest heavily in promoting the creative arts as part of their school ethos. The school is full of great artworks and it's been a privilege - and a big responsibility - to produce something that (I hope) is worthy of their trust. Kate and I both worked hard to give the school value for money. 

Well, after almost two years of having a big project to work on, I'm now faced with a 'what next?' moment. I haven't got anything as large lined up yet, but there's a small pile of fresh lino and a stack of new canvases that really ought to be put to good, or even bad, use. I'm about to have fun and indulge my own ideas for a short while to see how that works out.

Applications open for 2015/16

July 8, 2015 by Anglia Ruskin University   Comments (0)

Cambridge School of Art is pleased to continue participating in the Artists' Access to Art Colleges (AA2A) scheme! Our application process for 2015/16 is now open!

The closing date for applications is Friday 11th September 2015.

Pic of the Week: Kirsty E Smith, Sheffield College (plus 'Tip of the Week' and other news..)

April 1, 2015 by Georgia Rodger   Comments (0)

Pic of the Week:  Sheffield College's AA2A artist Kirsty E Smith's work in progress from her Dotbiz album 'It's coming together'.

Tip of the Week from AA2A artists to students (as featured in our self-employment talks): 'Make applications in as many areas of interest as possible and keep your options open.' Tony Stallard, Chelmsford College.

Other news: It's the beginning of the end for this years' artists on their AA2A projects around the country.  Most host institutions finish the scheme sometime in April (although some artists offer extensions). This means artists are showing off their new work, experiments and research in blogs and albums on this site and also some artists will be exhibiting so the exhibitions listings should be buzzing with activity too!

Best wishes,

The AA2A Team (Wendy, Georgia & Jo)

It's coming together!

March 26, 2015 by Kirsty E Smith   Comments (0)


Accompanying photos for this blog post can be found here http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/25038/its-coming-together

Back in the studio at Sheffield College (Hillsborough Campus) and this time I had a sheet of Polypropylene to cut my truncated cone form from. 

Once cut I covered it in some industrial felt; this is simply because I like to avoid hard edges. I then applied the metallic fabric to the sheet and used staples to hold the cone shape while I checked how it looked. 

I had already decided on the desired angle of the resin rose head (see the linked photo album for my Heath Robinson approach of propping the rose head up on sellotape and Copydex bottle to get the desired angle). Then I bent the copper support pipe and drilled a hole in the base layer of MDF and acrylic mirror and set the support pipe into the hole. The rose head stalk simply slipped over the support pipe and then I had a play with the metallic covered truncated cone piece and looked at it from lots of angles. I had already decided that the base needed to be elevated and I had come to the conclusion that spheres would be right. I work fairly slowly and thinking about form often happens when I am driving. I had been thinking about this for a week or so and had already sourced some polystyrene balls from a Poundshop. In the photo they are just temporarily in position as I was still just playing and getting the feel of the being.

By the end of the day in the studio I was fairly sure that I would like to see these balls covered in some sort of flocked surface. I think that this may be green fake grass form a modelling shop. 

It is a bit of a pity that my job is taking up so much of my time so I have not been able to get into the studio as much as I would have liked and it does seem especially sad as I am now really quite excited about this piece. Ahh the pain and the pleasure of the creative process….

Taking a playful approach

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

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Accompanying images for this blog post are here http://aa2a.biz/pg/photos/album/24687/thinking-about-form-ii

Having been to the Rag Market in Birmingham and sourced my metallic pan scrubber fabric and also having cast the watering can rose head in clear acrylic resin I finally got to the stage of testing out my ideas of how the form of my small sculpture (www.frillipmoolog.co.uk 'being') would would work. 

I often work with fairy roughly sketched ideas and then like to test out proportions and composition simply by physically handling and playing with the elements (This is obviously only possible with smaller pieces though!) 

I enjoyed observing the optical effects while moving the ridged resin cast over the mirror which was reflecting the metallic fabric. I definitely take a playful approach to my work. 

Reminding myself of schooldays maths I calculated the size of circle that I would need to cut out in order to make the truncated come form. I first cut it in newspaper and tested it and was pleased that my maths seemed to have resulted in a circle which would wrap around to form a cone the size that I had planned on. Next I used the newspaper template to cut the shape from greyboard but I quickly discovered that Greyboard was too stiff to work with as when I formed it into the truncated cone form it quickly distorted and cracked. I suddenly realised that I needed to use Polypropylene sheet instead. Joe, the technician, told me about a local supplier www.hindleys.com 

I then went on to wrap the cone form in the gold fabric; to the outside observer this would appear to be a very rough and ready approach but it works for me. I like to spend time seeing how the arrangement makes me feel and I quickly decided that I really didn’t like the placement of the rose head in the centre of the cone so I tried offsetting it; I tried this keeping the stalk still ‘growing’ vertically  and I also tried it at an angle. It was definite in my mind that the angled version was best; is seems more animated and has more life to it.

So a day of realisation about inappropriateness of a material (the greyboard) but also a day of good decision making. 

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.

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!