Group Critique

This week we had a whole group critique in which I showed my peers my final pieces and asked for their feedback.

A good deal of the feedback I got was positive. Those who had suggested ideas and alterations through the previous critiques commented on how I had used them.

  • The peer who had told me they thought the features should be female/a person of colour came back to me and told me that they thought the female attributes I had included in my final piece made it stronger in terms of the concept being obvious.
  • Another peer who suggested the use of an accompanying statement asked me how I was developing this. At this point I hadn’t created the statement yet but I explained to them that it would be concise and explanatory. They recommended that I kept it short and that I allowed the statement to be as unsympathetic as the piece itself, and not to sugarcoat the concept as I had previous said I wanted the piece to be blunt and unapologetic. This is something I am thinking about as I have not yet created my statement.
  • I explained to a few of my peers that one of my tutors had commented on the colour of the final piece, and I explained to them why I had chosen to use this medium in this colour and the feedback I got was positive in terms of them agreeing that what I had chosen was interesting and representative of my concept.

Thinking about my feedback

So far I have received various bits of feedback from my group critiques. This week I am reflecting upon them to make sure I have answered any questions I was asked or that I thought of and that all of the inspiration available to me has been used to the best of my ability.

Last week one of my peers told me how important they thought it was that the features in the final piece were expressly female or of a person of colour as this is who my concept lies with. When I changed my proposal and decided to create my final pieces from plaster I made sure when I created the alginate moulds that I included my own features as I am a female and it made more sense to use myself for the model rather than having someone else come in. This way I could control the gestures more. I intentionally left my ring on when I created the fist casts as it is classed as a typically ‘female’ thing to wear rings. When I created my facial cast I was sure to leave my hair down to that it would leave an impression on the alginate. Alongside my hair I wore make up that transferred to the alginate and then to the plaster, and together with this my facial features are generally feminine so I felt like it was obvious to the viewer that the person being represented is female.

I have also been thinking about one of my peers asking me how I was intending to ensure that the audience understood the concept of the piece. I have decided to come up with an accompanying artist statement for my piece but as I feel that the piece is self explanatory to a degree the statement will be short and concise, and most importantly – not patronising toward the viewers.

Last week I was asked whether or not I had considered the colour of my final piece and if so, how would it link to the concept. After deciding to use plaster I knew that the plaster could be white unless I dyed the plaster before setting it or painted it afterwards. I thought about how colour could relate to my boundary and realised that the plaster being white was an advantage to me. The boundary that females and people of colour are trying to break down is the stereotypical white male artwork, therefore keeping the plaster white represents the boundary in some way. Although it focuses more on the ‘white’ side rather than being male it definitely adds another layer of depth to the piece.


Working on my final pieces

After yesterday’s session I was eager to carry on with the last part of my final piece, this involves an alginate mould being made of my face. For health and safety reasons I wasn’t allowed to submerge my whole face in case of suffocation, unfortunately there was no way we could get a full facial imprint in the alginate. However, as I have previously stated Julian Palast’s work features many partial exposures of the face as these are able to convey emotional accurately without displaying the whole face.

I chose to submerge half of my face so that I was able to breathe. So we began by using 3 x 500g bags of alginate powder with 3 litres of water. We used the hand drill and the mixing attachment to mix it, until it was the same consistency as yesterday’s mix. We reused the MDF box we had previously made and poured the alginate in.

I filled one nostril with tissue so the alginate did not fill my nostril up, I then pulled a face of distress and submerged my face. It did not take long for the alginate to set so the discomfort was minimal.

The impression my face left in the alginate looked strange to me, I was unsure whether or not the casting of this would look how I wanted as the impression I left did not initially seem very deep. However, we continued and began to mix the plaster.

We kept the same ratio of two parts plaster powder to one part water. Before we poured it in we measured how thick the bases for the fist castings were and then we made sure to keep that consistent with this casting. We poured in the plaster and waited for 20 minutes so it had set.


When the plaster was set I deconstructed the wooden box to find that the plaster was generally evenly spread across the alginate mould and the base was the right thickness.


Initially I wasn’t entirely happy with how the casting came out as I realised that the alginate had picked up areas of make up, the tissue in my nose and my teeth hadn’t been fully formed. However, when I compared the piece overall to the other two it seemed to flow really well so instead of moulding my face again I decided to work on this one.


I used a piece of sandpaper and a metal scraper to remove the still malleable plaster cast of the tissue. I gently chipped it away and sanded it down.


I was happy with how I had been able to fix the nostril and make it look like it wasn’t stuffed with anything – that would definitely have distracted from the concept and confused the audience.

At this point I realised that there were other imperfections in the plaster, like bubbles and inconsistencies in the surface such as depressions. However my other two pieces also feature a bubble like texture on the background, so the texture of this piece is somewhat smoother but still links to the fist casts.

In terms of my concept representing how women and colour are placed behind a seemingly unbreakable boundary in the art world, I realised that embracing the fight against this boundary also means embracing the imperfections that these people have. It means that these people should be given equal opportunities, despite any imperfections, as those who currently have access to freely create and display their work also have imperfections, as does everyone.

For this reason, I have chosen not to sand down the other imperfections in the plaster and to leave them on display for the audience to recognise.

In my previous post I decided how I was going to display the work, so I decided to set it up in that way to see how the pieces linked together.


I am extremely happy with how these three pieces turned out, and how they link together. They are both similar and different at the same time, I have created different types of contrast using textures and depth and overall I feel that they convey the visual narrative that I wanted to display.

What went well?

  • I feel that the end product of today’s session is exactly what I wanted to produce, and due to managing time efficiently, planning before hand and taking care and precautions I was able to create it exactly as I wanted.
  • I feel that the piece I have created, along with the ones I created yesterday fit together to actively and interestingly convey my concept. As a set of three they compliment each other and are stronger as a trio than individually.
  • I feel that alginate and plaster were the right materials for this project as the level of detail within the facial piece I made today, and the fist casts, really improves upon the concept as this makes the replication of the body parts more lifelike which in turn means that the audience will resonate more with the piece as they are able to see parts of themselves as a humans in it.

Even better if..

  • The end product of this session could have been better in terms of the alginate being less bubbly and leaving a lot of imperfections that were reflected in the plaster, such as the teeth not being formed fully. However due to the large quantity of alginate and the short time from adding water to the mixture and it setting we were unable to find another method that rendered the alginate less bubbly.
  • This session could have been more effective if we had more alginate at our disposal meaning that we could have tried a range of facial expressions, however the university only has a limited supply of alginate and unfortunately I am not in a position to be able to afford larger quantities of the agent.

Overall I am happy with these pieces and will be submitting them as my final pieces.

Working on my final pieces

After last weeks experimentation and proposal reflection I had decided to use plaster as the medium for my final pieces. So today I went to see my 3D tutor Kostas in the 3D lab to begin the process of creating my final pieces.

The plaster cast of my hands made from the alginate mould worked really well and carried through a lot of detail which is something that I wanted, however during our attempts to vac form this piece the plaster fingers broke upon removal of the plastic vac formed piece. The hand casts were also discoloured with clay, and since this piece was experimentation and not the final piece I wanted to create new pieces with the knowledge I had gained and more of a plan in my mind.

First of all I had to think about how many pieces I had to produce in terms of cost effectiveness, time management and available resources. I also had to think about what it was I wanted to cast in terms of the human form.

After thinking about it I decided that the two most expressionate parts of the human body are the hands and the face. The hands are able to create many different gestures that convey different meanings, and the face is capable of producing many expressions that translate into a variety of emotions.

I then had to think about the narrative I wanted to produce. I had already established that I wanted to base this piece around the boundaries that women and people of colour face in the art world, I still had to decide how exactly I wanted to portray how me and others within those minorities feel about the issue. At first I thought I felt sad about it, I thought that myself and others were sad about the restrictions placed upon us, but after further thought I realised we were angry. As many before us we have been restricted for too long, and at this point I feel that we’re allowed, in fact expected, to be angry about it. So I decided that I wanted to create a depiction of both distress and anger in my final piece. This left me to decide how I wanted to portray these emotions in the face and hands.

Initially after creating my first hand casts I felt that using hands alone would be engaging enough and decided to plan out how to display an array of hands all seemingly pushing through the boundary.

This was the first mock up I made of how I might display the hands – I wanted to create an array of hand gestures that all differently reflected the same emotion, however I felt that this may not be the most effective way to convey my point as the hands would be doing different things and the differences may distract from the narrative I wanted to convey.


This is the second mock up I created of how I could display the hands, I felt that a more organised approach may not distract the viewer as much as a disorganised array of hands might. I felt that the second approach may show unity if the hands were all in a line. However I was then faced with wondering how I could create the same narrative when using the same body part in different positions, and whether this would weaken the idea behind body of work.


After deliberating I decided that it would feel more personal to each person of the audience if the pieces resembled one person, and this way I am able to use a face within the work to reinforce the emotion. I also feel that doing it this way reflects on the inspiration I originally wanted to take from Julien Palast’s Skin Deep series. I created another mock up of how I wanted to display the pieces so I knew what to create and that I didn’t waste any time creating any pieces I did not need.


With this layout I feel that the separate pieces would resemble one person pushing through the boundary, rather than separate people doing so. By choosing to display it this way with two hands and a face I feel that I can visually show more emotion by using multiple body parts.

I also feel that by making the pieces look like one singular person each person who resonates with the piece would be able to imagine themselves being the person I’m depicting.

To depict both anger and distress I decided to create two upright fists. When picturing how a person would try to break down a physical boundary my mind pictured two fists bashing on a surface, and I felt that this would be relevant as even though the boundary I’m conceptualising is not physical, the physical sentiment would still resemble the same idea of breaking something down.

In terms of creating the face I had to think practically about being able to submerge my whole face within alginate as I wouldn’t be able to hold my breath long enough for the alginate to set. After revisiting Palast’s work I saw that he was able to capture emotions using only a partial area of the face. I felt that in terms of comfort, safety and the best result it would be ideal to submerge my face at an angle allowing myself to breathe whilst also capturing the emotion I would be expressing in my face.

Having decided to create three separate pieces me and Kostas began to set up the 3D lab to create them.

We reused the original MDF box we had made for the first mould as we were already aware that this size box could hold three bags of alginate mixed with 3 equal volumes of water and that this size box produced a good sized piece of work. I wanted the size of the whole piece not to cause the reliefs to be swallowed up, so I divided the box in two using a piece of cardboard. This meant we still knew how much alginate to use but that the pieces would be proportionate so the size of my hands.

We mixed the alginate and split it equally between the two compartments, I then plunged my fists into the mixture whilst it set. After a few minutes I removed my firsts and this was the impression left in the alginate. At first I was worried as the negative mould looked nothing like what I wanted the positive cast to look like, however Kostas reassured me that the eye is not very good at perceiving negative space and to wait and see what the positive cast looked like. We noticed that the mixture was bubbly as it had been the first time, however I felt that this would be an interesting texture for the background as it would create contrast between the background the the cast.


We then mixed two portions of plaster of paris, and marked on the box where we would pour up to, to make sure the backgrounds to both of the firsts were of equal depth.


After 20 minutes the plaster had set and we deconstructed the box. Here you can see the separate layers of the alginate (on top) and the plaster (on the bottom).


After removing the alginate this is what I was left with. I am really pleased with how these pieces have turned out; the background does create a contrast between the background and the fists. The detail that the alginate had carried through to the plaster was impeccable. All the wrinkles and creases in my hands were visible and although there were some bubbles visible on my hands there is still a plentiful amount of detail.


I’m aware that I will have to sand down the sides of these pieces as some of the cardboard divide has attached itself to the sides, however aside from that I am pleased with how these pieces have turned out as I feel that they look as I wanted them to. They look like two firsts, poised in motion ready to bash on a surface.

I feel that these pieces are good enough to be displayed as part of my final piece.


So, I’ve come to the end of this session as we did not have time to do all three moulds and casts in one afternoon, however we will be continuing to work on my final pieces tomorrow.

What went well?

  • I am pleased with how I managed to plan effectively to create this piece. I took my idea and used my knowledge of the medium, how much of it I needed and how to properly use it, and created these pieces safely and efficiently.
  • I am pleased with how these pieces have turned out in terms of aesthetics – they are realistically detailed pieces that accurately portray the idea of pushing through a boundary. The textured background effectively creates a contrast between the background and the foreground of the piece, allowing the audience to see the detail within the mono colour piece.
  • I have now learned how to create a plaster cast from start to finish, independently. This is a skill that will be useful to me for the remainder of this module and further on in my course.

Even better if..

  • This session would have been better if we could have started earlier and allowed ourselves to create all three pieces in one session.
  • Although the bubbly background works effectively for this piece it was something that was beyond our control, we could have mixed slower to create less bubbles and have more control over how the background looks – however our mixing to setting time was short and we had to work in the most efficient way we could.

Personal reflection

This week I had to rethink my proposal as my original idea did not produce the outcome that I wanted, however I am happy with how I have decided to carry on with the project – I still feel that the original concept of the piece will be present and well represented in my final piece, just in a different way.

I have been looking deeper into my concept, researching art relating to the gender bias, and the race bias within the art world. I feel that my research has taught me a lot about how this boundary has come about, how present it still is in today’s society and how society’s views affect this boundary.

What has gone well this week?

  • I have experimented with the final piece that I wanted to produce and learned a great deal about the mediums I have/am currently working with. I feel that the knowledge I  have gained from this week spent in the 3D lab is really beneficial in terms of knowing which methods and mediums produce which outcomes. Even though my final idea has changed in terms of medium I’m still confident in my ability to produce work which narrates the message I intend it to.
  • I’ve researched further into my intended narrative and feel confident in the research my final piece will be backed up by. Although I originally chose the topic because I personally resonate with it I feel that I’ve become able resonate with it even more as I learn more about the issue. I feel that the key to producing work with a strong concept is to understand the concept and I feel that I’ve managed to do that so far.

What could I have done better?

  • I feel that I could have started experimenting with different mediums earlier in my project as although I am left with plenty of time to complete my final pieces at this point I feel that it would have been more beneficial to experiment with a wider range of mediums to expand my knowledge.
  • I feel that I could have explored more sources in terms of research, I have been to an exhibition and used a variety of online resources however I feel that looking at journals and books may also be beneficial to the research segment of this module. I will try to use some of these sources to improve my research before the end of the module.


Rethinking my proposal

After my session with Kostas in which I realised that vacuum forming wasn’t the right approach to create the look I wanted to produce. At this point I felt that it was necessary to rethink my approach.

During our experimentation both Kostas and myself had commented on the interesting and detailed effect that was left on the plaster cast. Although the alginate agent was bubbly and left a bubbling effect on the plaster the detail the alginate had captured translated fantastically into the plaster.

In my original proposal I wanted to create a vacuum formed piece that involved using plastic over plaster casted from an alginate mould. Originally the plaster was the ideal substance to use in terms of capturing detail and being able to withstand the pressure of the vacuum former, I had not originally considered using it in my final piece.

However having looked at the pieces using a plaster cast has created I am now starting to think that plaster may be the medium that would work best for my project.

Plaster – what does it add to the piece? What message does it convey? How is it perceived?

I have looked at some of the things plaster can create. It is used in separate areas of society, first and foremost it is used in the medical industry to create plaster casts around bones that need to be held firmly in place and set. To some people when they see plaster of paris this is what the associate it with: hospitals. However, I have also looked into how plaster has been used in sculpture. The medium itself takes form of the mould it is poured into and therefore has the ability to recreate textures depending on what the mould it is poured into is created from. This means that plaster is flexible in terms of the detail is can capture and recreate, and also in what shape it can form.

However I am particularly interested in what kind of underlying message this medium can convey that will link in with my concept of tackling boundaries.

The outward texture of plaster is dependent on whether it is shaped or poured into a mould, however it is often smooth and can be easily sanded down to become smooth if it is not already. To touch plaster feels cool and chalky, the coolness is similar to the way polished stone can feel, and the chalkiness can convey the fragility of a seemingly permanent medium as it wears away easily if rubbed or knocked.

As plaster is a seemingly permanent medium it seems as if whatever it is set into is ‘set in stone’ as the common saying goes. I feel that this particular association is relevant to my project. At first I was determined to produce a piece that showed flexibility in the boundary I am tackling, however looking further into my concept I feel more and more as if the boundary is set is stone. I am optimistic in my idea of tackling this boundary however I am starting to feel that plaster may be a suitable alternative for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, using alginate, the plaster cast shows up a great amount of detail that makes the cast seem more life-like, showing the humanity behind the issue I’m talking. These people, women and people of colour, are human, and they are being treated as less than that by being told that their mediums of expression are not as good as others, or that their talent is less important or less well rounded in comparison to their white/male counterparts.

Secondly, as Neolithic sculpture and the Greek era of sculpture have inspired me to use the human form alongside textures and visible, dramatic emotion I feel that this would be better evidenced in plaster, which is not the same medium that Neolithians or Greeks may have used but looks similar in terms of the end result.

Additionally, plaster carries through all detail from the mould it is created in, including the imperfections. By using a flexible material like latex or plastic the material is almost pulled tight, not necessarily highlighting every detail in the final result. Although I am producing this work to tackle the boundary between women/POC and their right to create in the art world, I want to show that these people are not claiming to produce perfect art. Instead they are fighting for the right to create, they are fighting for the right to make mistakes as all artists do, they are fighting for the right to create work that isn’t ‘perfect’ in the eyes of all art critics or the general public, but instead it expressionate and personal. All artwork is the product of failing, reflecting and improving, so I feel that having these imperfections – such as the texture from the alginate, may reflect that the fight is for equality in the art world, and is not a fight to prevail in perfection, thus imperfections should be included.

I will be redrafting my proposal to reflect this choice in change of medium.

Original proposal:

Name: Chelsie Southern
Working title: Untitled

I intend to create a three dimensional piece physically representing the boundaries women and people of colour face in the art industry. I will be experimenting with mediums throughout the project and producing a piece with a narrative that relies on the medium it was created from. By looking at a range of artists I will establish how my body of work can conceptually represent a physical, mental and social boundary. My intention for the project is to produce a piece that uses multiple tools of narrating to highlight a range of sub-points within the overall narrative.

Is this précis still true to my project? – Yes, however I will be rewriting it to show how my ideas have developed.

New Précis 
I intent to create a three dimensional piece consisting of a number of individual plaster casts of the human form that physically represent the boundaries that women and people of colour face in the art industry. I will be producing a piece with a narrative that relies on the medium is was created from. I will be using plaster to represent the historical permanence of the boundary I am tackling, as well as representing the solid boundary that we as a united force intend to break down. I am looking at a wide range of artists whose work relies on the medium being used to convey a narrative. My intention for this project is to produce a piece that uses multiple tools of narrating to highlight a range of sub-points within the overall narrative.

I feel that I produce better work when I focus on a theme that I resonate with, and I feel that in this module of experimentation it would be best for me to work with an idea that I already have a great deal of knowledge about so that I can use the tools at my disposal in the best possible way.

The idea that women and people of colour are at a disadvantage in the art world has been downtrodden in current times as it is the general idea that we’ve overcome such boundaries, when in reality we still have a long way to go. I feel that because this is an issue that affects me as woman I am able to explore the issue in more depth and in a more personal way which will reflect well in my experimentation of mediums and reasoning.

I also want to produce this body of work because the idea itself gives way to a range of experimentation, although the idea itself is specific the medium through which I communicate the idea does not have to be. This leaves me with a wide array of avenues to explore in order to properly convey the narrative, in terms of medium, what exactly I want to display and how.

Is this rationale still true to my project? – Yes. After researching further into this issue I feel that I resonate with this issue now more than ever. I am still just as interesting in producing work that helps to show the audience that we need to overcome this boundary set in front of us as women or people of colour. I also feel that I have been experimenting with a range of materials to find which medium is most appropriate for this body of work.

Aims & Objectives
My body of work will be aimed at those who have any knowledge of the art world, or any interest in it. This work is an awareness campaign of sorts, as it is raising awareness for the boundary that still lies between women & people of colour and access to create and display their art without sexism or racism.

My approach to the work will be forward and unsympathetic to the audience. I feel that I almost want my audience to feel the sense of shock, the sense of being overwhelmed with truth that is undeniable. I want them to feel this way because society themselves are at fault for denying these categories of people a chance to create and a chance to show what they have created, and society must be faced with how this has affected the people involved.

Are my aims and objectives still true to this project? – Yes. My work is still aimed at the same audience, and my approach to my work is still the same – unsympathetic and shocking.

For this module I will require the support of the 3D tutors and their knowledge of equipment, as I will no doubt be experimenting with multiple mediums and will need the help and opinions of these tutors to advise me on methods and safety.

At this point in my project I am not yet sure what equipment I will need specifically, however throughout my project I will update my proposal to include this. I am also not sure if this project will rely on any external locations outside of the university, this – along with my budget, will be updated as my project progresses.

Is my overview still true to this project? – Yes and no.

New Overview
For this module I will require the support of the 3D tutors and their knowledge of equipment, as I will no doubt be experimenting with multiple mediums and will need the help and opinions of these tutors to advise me on methods and safety.

For this project I will require the use of the 3D studio, including materials such as MDF, alginate, plaster of paris and equipment in relation to mixing and creating these agents. This project does not require me to visit any locations outside of the university, and due to the university providing the relevant equipment and materials there will be no personal cost to me for this project besides travel expenses for the visitations of relevant exhibitions.


Overall my project is about breaking down barriers between people who want to create, and the ability to do so. I am focussing on how boundaries are put up, why they are put up, by who, and for what? This particular issue of women and people of colour being shut out of the art industry seems political, and for that reason I can understand that not everyone will be able to resonate with the piece. To some people that the issue does not affect it is not as easy to see why it is important, however this project to me, is about doing my best to show everyone why it is important, and what breaking down this boundary could do for those on the other side of it.

Is my synopsis still true to my project? – Yes. My synopsis of the project remains the same.

Developing my maquette

Continuing on from yesterdays session I approached Kostas today and we both felt that the cast was ready to be used in the vacuum formed.

Before we placed the cast int he vacuum former we discussed what material would be best to create the webbing effect causing the vacuum formed outcome to look as if someone was pushing their hands through a flexible material.

However we realised that as the fingers of the hands stood away from the background the vacuum forming machine may vacuum the material around the fingers meaning we would be unable to remove the cast from the plastic. To avoid this I used clay to create the webbing on the cast that I wanted to appear of the vacuum formed result. This meant I would be able to remove the cast without it breaking.


We decided that the best way to find out what material worked the best would be trial and error, so we began with a 0.5mm thick sheet of clear plastic.

In the above image you can see the original cast with the clay webbing, above it is the sheet of clear plastic ready to be heated and vac formed.


When we removed the piece from the vac former we examined it and found that the material was too thin, as too much detail has been captured meaning that the webbing effect was lost and did not look how I wanted it to. We then decided to try again with another thicker material that we thought may hold the webbing effect better, so we decided on a 1.5mm sheet of white plastic.


Although the final effect of this thicker material was not as smooth as I had hoped it was definitely an improvement on the first. There was a webbing effect produced on the plastic and this was closer to what I had hoped to achieve.


I sat down with Kostas and we discussed how to proceed from here as I was still generally unhappy with the product. The effect I originally wanted to create was similar to that of Julian Palast’s Skin Deep series – a solid piece that gave the visual effect of being flexible, as if the material was being pushed from the other side. This is not what I ended up creating in my experimentation.

I decided to go away and rethink my final piece, and how I wanted it to look. I will be revisiting my proposal and thinking more about the medium I am using.

What went well?

  • I used the vacuum forming machine to experiment with the material and style I wanted to use for my final piece, although it did not turn out as I had hoped I am glad I experimented with this medium as it was interesting to see what kind of effect it produced and how it worked.
  • I feel that I am one step closer to producing my final piece as I now know the vacuum forming is not the final medium I want to use, allowing me room to experiment further with another medium.
  • I worked with Kostas efficiently to create a maquette in which I managed my time well, I documented the process in a clear and concise way and I made educated choices in how to proceed based on what I had created.

Even better if?

  • This session would have been better if we could have found a material that accurately portrays the effect I was trying to create, however we did not have the necessary surplus of materials to repeatedly try vacuum forming the cast.
  • The session could have been better had I originally looked at how different materials pick up details within a cast when vacuum formed, this way I could have been more efficient with time as I would have known what material to use rather than basing it on trial and error.

Creating my first maquette

So today I had organised a meeting with Kostas, the tutor who specialises in 3D work. We had originally discussed creating a mould of my hands to represent people pushing through boundaries, which would be represented by the appearance and material of the final cast.

To begin this process we first used the laser cutter to create a box to hold the negative mould. We used MDF as it was sturdy and non-porous to hold both the moulding agent and the material used to create the positive casting. We cut a box using a base that was 250mm x 320mm. We set the speed to 9 and the power to 85. We cut four sides that fit on top of the base, creating a watertight seal with duct tape.

When we had created the box we were ready to start mixing the moulding agent. Alginate was the most ideal moulding agent to use as it is skin safe. It is commonly used in dental practises to make moulds of teeth. We had to work quickly with this material, as there was only 120 seconds from adding the water to the point where the agent would start to solidify.

We added 3 litres of water to 3 500g packs of alginate. When the water was added the mixture turned purple, after mixing it for a while it began to turn pink, which signified that the mixture was ready to use. As I poured it into the box I noticed that it had a bubbly texture and wondered what kind of effect that would create on the positive casting.


The particular kind of alginate we used was called Chromatic Alginate.


When the mixture sets it turns white, and becomes a similar consistency to tofu. It held its shape well when I removed my hands, and I was pleased with how the agent had captured the shape of my hands.


The next step in the process was to mix plaster of paris to create a positive casting from the negative mould. To do this we began to make a mixture using water and plaster powder. We began with half of a silicone bowl of water and added plaster powder until it no longer sank, the ratio was approximately 2 parts plaster to 1 part water. I mixed the powder into the water by breaking down all of the lumps and stirring it until it was the same consistency as paint.

After pouring the plaster into the negative mould I left it to set for twenty minutes. When this time had passed I cut the duct tape holding the box together so I was able to take the plaster and the mould out.


Unfortunately I had to break the alginate mould to take out the plaster cast. I was very impressed with the amount of detail that the alginate had captured; the wrinkles in my fingers, my fingernails and my fingerprints were all visible in the final cast. Due to the alginate mixture being bubbly in texture there were some bubbles visible on the surface of the hands and the background, however these were easily fixed or improved with the use of some sandpaper.


I was very pleased with the effect that both the alginate and the plaster had created. My fingers stood away from the background and I feel that this will work well in creating a webbing effect to make the hands look as if they are pushing against a flexible surface.

We decided to wait until tomorrow to use the cast to create a vacuum formed piece as the plaster was still warm and we didn’t want to break or deform it before it was fully set.

So, what went well?

  • I am pleased the outcome of this session – I went into the session wanting to create a detailed cast of my hands to use as a model to create a vacuum formed piece. The result is definitely detailed and both Kostas and myself feel that it will work well in the vacuum forming machine.
  • The level of detail in the casts is very high, this really enforces the element of humanity within the piece as it shows the cast was created from a person rather than sculpted from a piece of material. The more detail that is on the original cast the more detail the vacuum former will pick up, meaning that the vacuum formed piece should contain detail and texture. I feel that this will make it more engaging than a piece with a smooth, impersonal texture.
  • This is the first time I have used casting to create a piece of work. I feel confident in the method and I feel that it is the right medium to use for this project. I also feel that now I know how to use moulding agents to create a cast I am able to be more creative with what I produce.

Even better if.

  • I feel that if we knew more about the texture of alginate we could of perhaps made sure it contained less bubbles so that the texture of the plaster mould wasn’t so inhibiting of the detail, as some if it was obscured due to bubbles.
  • As this was the first time doing this process it took more time than it usually would have. I feel that we could possibly have created multiple moulds if we had been more efficient with time, however this is something I will consider when I return tomorrow to make more moulds.
  • I feel that due to the plaster being white and smooth the hands did not stand out enough from the background. It may be interesting to experiment with textures or to push my hands further into the mould so when they are cast they stand further away from the background. This is something I will think about during tomorrow’s session.

I am looking forward to tomorrows session and to continuing with this process as I really feel that it would create an interesting and conceptual final piece.



Group Critique

This week I talked to my peers about my idea of creating a vacuum formed human form in the style of Julien Palast, and how I was to create that using the tools in the 3D lab. I also explained how I was continuing my work relating to boundaries and how this project would relate to my chosen boundary.

My peers had this feedback for me:

  • One of my peers asked me how I planned to make it obvious to the viewer that my piece was relating to this particular boundary. This was a great point to make as I hadn’t made up my mind at this point whether or not I’ll be presenting an accompanying artist statement or whether or not I want the piece to represent the narrative by itself. This is something to think about before my next critique.
  • Another of my peers told me that they thought the idea was engaging and that it was an interesting visual representation of this particular boundary. They expressed how important they thought it was that the features were either expressly female or of a person of colour to enforce the concept of my piece. This is something I will be aware of as I am creating my final piece.
  • One of my tutors asked me if I had considered the colouring of the work I would produce, and whether or not I had thought about how this would link into my work. It is a valid point that I will be thinking about during the process of creating, depending on the material I end up using.

Mediums: what do they mean?

After researching the history of sculpture, alongside other artists who use sculpture within their work I realised just how important different mediums can be in terms of conveying a particular message.

Vik Muniz created work from a wide range of mediums such as sugar, chocolate, string, wire and many more. In each of his individual works, such as his portraits of sugar plantation workers from Saint Kitts, the medium used to create the work adds an extra layer of depth to the work, telling more of the narrative than the work could do if created in a different medium.

Greek sculpture that I have looked at heavily featured bronze and marble as they were the materials that were available at the time and also the materials that were best to create detailed and lasting works that were somewhat resistant to the elements in the longterm.

However, in today’s world there is a wealth of different mediums that all have different connotations in terms of perception.

Marble and bronze have carried down their perceptions since the Greek era of sculpture, when statues and sculptures were reserved for people in high power or of high importance. These materials suggest that the subject created from them should be regarded in high standards, this is backed up by the fact that marble can be an expensive material to use and acquire. Both of these materials are solid which reflects the idea of immortalising a scene or person in history, once carved it is hard to make any alterations to the final product.

Cement is also used to create sculptures although it is usually poured into a cast rather than sculpted after setting. Cement carries less important connotations as it is a cheap and easy material to use, and it is seen in everyday scenarios such as architecture, building and road making meaning that seeing it does not stir up the same reaction in a person that a rarer and more expensive material like marble would. Cement is also a substance that is solid when set, although it can be broken it is not a flexible medium physically, once it has set it is solid and unchanging, reflecting the notion that things set in cement are permanent.

Stone is a naturally occurring substance and was used to create the first works that we consider sculptures. Due to this, and due to its natural formation stone tends to convey a more natural and historic feeling. There are many different types of stone but the general view of stone is that it is inflexible, permanent and can seemingly only be changed with strong tools or a variety of weather conditions.

Wood is also a naturally occurring substance however is it generally more flexible than stone. By heating wood it is able to be bent and shaped, it is also easily cut and easily carved making it the medium of choice within carpentry and furniture making. Due to it being a naturally forming material it conveys a natural and ‘pure’ kind of feeling. It’s flexibility and it’s ability to be reused in different ways by being taken apart means that it conveys a strong but flexible feeling.

Metal is a particularly popular medium in terms of modern society. It is used in many different ways and it particularly useful as it can be recycled, meaning it can be melted down and reformed as another object. This juxtaposition of a solid material that can be made flexible means that there are many ways to use the medium. Metal is generally a cold material which gives it a lifeless feeling, in comparison with wood that seems to retain heat better than metal and feels more full of life as it is natural.

Glass is an interesting material as during creation it is extremely flexible but once it is set it becomes solid, unchangeable and fragile. Glass generally conveys the feeling of fragility and the idea that it must be handled with care. However due to glass’s transparency it also portrays the idea of clarity. Glass is also able to be recycled so although the substance itself is not flexible when set it is flexible in terms of being able to be reused.

Plastic is also a common material in terms of general use. We use it to create solid substances as well as flexible ones, for example hard hats and plastic bags. Due to the nature of plastic it is possible to create solid and flexible varieties of plastic depending on the chemical structure. Plastic is seen as very modern as it has not been around as long as some other mediums have been, and it can be used in a wide variety of ways. It is used in a greta deal of items that we use daily so there isn’t one specific feeling that the material itself conveys. The ability to constantly change plastic by heating and shaping and recycling it makes it seem flexible and constantly able to change.

Plaster is a medium that if often used to cast. For example it is commonly used in hospitals to create a solid cast around a bone that needs to set, it is known for its solid form that is not able to bend, but instead can be broken. It is originally created in a liquid form that sets meaning it can be used to cast positive casts from negative moulds. This can be useful in terms of sculpture, creating an instant type of bas relief in some cases. Plaster is a solid substance than can be sanded and shaped slightly once set but can be fragile in terms of how easily it can break if knocked or dropped. Plaster conveys the idea through it’s frequent use of casting of being a permanent and non-reusable material that holds shape well over time. It conveys the feeling of solidity and although it is not natural due to the detail it can capture it can seem lifelike, which is why it is often used to do casts of human features.

Clay is a malleable material that is often used in sculpting as it is easy to shape and remains flexible until it is air-hardened or fired in a kiln. The flexibility of clay means that it conveys a changeable nature, but when set it resembles a cement like substance that cannot be reshaped. It’s permanence is why it’s often used to sculpt, the finished product is final and cannot be changed in terms of shape.

Paint is a very common medium used in the art world as it has been used historically to capture portraits before photography existed. It was deemed to be the easiest way of creating a life like replication of a person or scene as colours of paint are able to be mixed to create shades that are life like. Before photography important people such as people amongst the Monarchy had their portraits painted, historically painting has been restricted to those who can afford the materials as it has not always been affordable. This is also because painting a portrait often took hours if not days, which not everybody had time for. In today’s time painting is a lot more affordable to the masses meaning that the medium itself it easier to acquire. Painting is flexible in terms of being able to mix colours and creature textures, it is also flexible in terms of corrections being easy to make by painting over an existing error or painting. Paint conveys an artistic and time consuming feeling as it it used primarily in the art industry.

Paper is a widely used material in terms of its wide variety of uses. It can be used to write or draw on, it can also be used to build structures and create a variety of objects such as greeting cards, signs and prints. It is not a particularly strong medium as it can be ripped and scrunched up, however it can also be cut and shaped/folded meaning that despite its fragility it can be used in a range of creative ways. Paper is made from wood meaning that it also has natural connotations, but it is seen as a common medium as it is used widely in modern society.

Although this is not a list of every single possible medium out there I have chosen the mediums I have access to use within the university facilities. I feel that using one of these mediums would work within creating my piece as I am set on the piece being 3D and all of these mediums are able to be used to create a 3D structure.

I will be exploring these mediums further as I go through my project as I will decide further on which medium will be best to convey the type of feeling and message I want to portray.