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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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