The last project this entire semester is also the final project in our 3D unit: a nylon sculpture. This sculpture is meant to be very abstract, and like many of our past projects, includes more than one component and skill set. Despite this, our nylon sculpture is arguably the most complex of all our projects because of the sheer number of different steps and techniques we used.
Part I: Creating the skeleton
The materials used for this part are as follows: plastic planting pot, thick and thin malleable wires, wire cutting/bending tools, knife-cutter, and nylon sock.
Like our previous 3D piece, we needed to demonstrate the concepts of mass and volume in this sculpture. Essentially, this sculpture is a wire sculpture with a nylon sock stretched over it and thick layers of paint and other materials on top as a finishing touch. So before we could get to the actual nylon sock and painting steps, we had to create a wired structure for the nylon sock to be stretched over; we had to build a foundational skeleton. This was done by taking a plastic planting pot, turning it upside down and using the holes at the bottom to connect wires to it. I first used two thicker pieces of wire and had one end of my first wire sticking out of one hole, while the other end stuck out of the hole directly across it. I repeated something similar with my second piece of thick wire. The struggle here, though, was to get these wires to remain stationary and not move around. In the end, I solved this by using a knife-cutter to poke another hole next to the first hole and using the wire tool to bring the end of it up and around. By doing this with each of the other wire ends, I was able to successfully keep the wires from moving around. Additionally, I also added some wires on the sides of the planting pot. To secure these wire ends, I also used a cutting knife to create a hole and made an anchoring point.
Next, I used the thinner wires to create more mass around and near the top of the skeleton. This was done by wrapping the thin wire end to another thick wire multiple times, using the wire tool to secure it even tighter. Then, I just shaped it however I wanted and secured the other wire end in a similar fashion. This was repeated for my other thin wires as well.
Now that the general skeleton of my sculpture was complete, I then moved on to stretching a nylon sock over it. During this process, it was important to stretch the nylon sock taut in all areas of the sculpture. This way, when we painted it, the there won't be any loose looking spots that obscure the wire skeleton underneath. After several attempts, I finally stretched the nylon sock over the entire sculpture. With a defined mass to my sculpture, I then could then move and finalise the positions the wires inside were in.
One of the criteria for this project was to also create some volume (where air penetrates the piece), and one of the options we had was to hook a bit of the nylon sock to piece of wire sticking out inside. This creates a caved-in look, and since I had intentionally left wire bits sticking out when securing thin wires to thick wires, I could do this multiple times. The other method to create volume was to use a knife cutter and cut holes into the nylon surface. I also did this several times around my sculpture.
Some of the difficulties I encountered during this process included stretching the nylon sock over my sculpture and getting my nylon sock to be stretched taut in all areas. This was because even before my sock was stretched over, my wire skeleton was way too wide. This made it neigh impossible to stretch the sock over without bending the wires completely out of shape. To solve this, I squashed the wires closer to the middle, creating a sort of long and pointed shape. This allowed me to pull the sock over, however I had to reshape all the wires again. However, once I had "poofed" out my sculpture again, there were still areas that were much less taut than other areas. To address this, I pushed in these looser areas and hooked a bit of the nylon sock surface to a wire hook inside.
Part II: Painting
The materials used for this part are as follows: gesso paint, flat paint brushes, spray paint, fume hood, and mini Lazy Susan.
With our skeleton finished, we could then move on to painting on layers of white gesso paint. Unlike ordinary acrylic paint, gesso hardens incredibly well as it dries. First, we painted on one base layer of gesso. This first layer was the most difficult because it would be painted directly onto the soft fabric of the nylon sock. However, after this first layer, the other two or three layers were much easier. Between each layer, we had to wait until the gesso was at least semi-dry, so this took a couple of class periods.
After layering down the gesso, the inside wires were now completely obscured (except for the few rips in the nylon revealing them beneath). Our piece was entirely white, and we had the option to also spray paint it. Placing the dried piece on a mini Lazy Susan inside a switched-on fume hood, I spun and sprayed my sculpture at the same time. At first, I only used white spray paint because I wanted my piece to have an even more smooth layer of white. Then, I added a few sprays of blue spray paint over that. After spray painting, the nylon sculpture was left in the cupboard to dry overnight.
For this part, I found difficulty in getting the gesso evenly spread out on my piece. This was because after the first layer, it was hard to tell which areas I had already painted and which a hadn't. Additionally, there were some areas in my sculpture that were hard to reach with my brush. To solve both of these problems, I worked systematically and made sure to only paint one section at a time. For the hard-to-reach places, the only thing that could help was patience, which is why I took more time on those areas. Additionally, when I was spray painting the blue paint, I sprayed more than I wanted by accident. Luckily, my base color was white, so to solve this, I simply sprayed more white spray paint over that.
Part III: Sewing
The materials used in this part are as follows: needle, thread, super glue, scissors, and a thimble.
Another requirement for this project was to include some sort of sewing component. Since this is something I am already very familiar with, I knew I wanted to spend more time making my sewing look nicer. First of all, I cut an arm's length of purple thread and threaded it through my needle. Then, folding the thread in half, I tied off a knot at the end. Next, I looped my needle and thread through my chosen section on my nylon sculpture, sewing back and forth to create a harp-like pattern. When my thread was running out, I looped it once more over the same spot and brought the needle between that loop. When I pulled my thread, a knot was created. Finally, to secure this, I added a dab of super glue.
A similar process was repeated for the other sections with sewing, however there are two exceptions. One if the very top of my piece where I used white thread, and the other is a line where my sculpture face's "eye" would be. If you look at the front of my sculpture, you can see the silhouette of a person's face. For the white thread part, I tried using a the same technique used when creating dream-catchers, however, halfway through, I accidentally pulled too hard and the left side of it ripped away. In response to this, I simply tied the loose ends together and super glued it. Then, I cut away any of the loose strands, leaving only half of a semi-complete dream catcher. For the second exception where my sculpture's "eye" is, I simply weaved back and forth on the same spot.
During this process, the only difficulty I really experienced was the dream-catcher problem mentioned above and having to use a thimble to help push the needle through in places where the gesso paint was too thick. After the sewing part, my sculpture was ready to photograph. Overall, this project has been a rather difficult one due to the many different components needed, however the final product was worth the trouble!