The heat is on

This last year, I have been funded to develop my 3D construction skills, with the bronze sculpture acting as a focus in terms of design and moving into an unfamiliar discipline. But alongside this, a recent residency in Ireland allowed me to work with two artists to learn more about other materials and construction methods. In both cases, the materials used were recycled or repurposed.

Plastic

As many of you will know, I am good friends with Kim Thittichai who lives on Loop Head, a peninsula on the west coast of County Clare in Ireland. I first met Kim as a tutor when she led ‘Experimental Textiles’ some years ago. One of the things she is passionate about is recycling and repurposing all the washed up plastic, nets and farm twine that litters the amazing beaches there. She has the most enormous stock in her sheds that await exciting projects! Kim has just recently shown a few of her farm plastics vessels along with her photographs and canvases in a local exhibition:

Using some of the farm twine and fishing line, a friend and I amused ourselves day making small coiled pots. The material was really hard on the fingers so our hands had to have a day off afterwards. I chose some greens, blues and turquoise strands. Some were pulled apart to thread with. The nets and farm twine are all a bit different – something you’d not realise without having a collection to handle.

I had some time with Kim learning about how she manipulates the various plastics with heat. I know this is a material that I’m not naturally drawn to, but it was really good to have a play with something outside my experience and to learn a bit more. We used the heat press to melt certain things, and the heat gun to mould around formers. Oh, and a very important stick to avoid burning hands…. Here is a little of that:

Below are two bits of yellow that I pulled apart from the blue vessel when it was done – not being able to take anything back on the plane was freeing in terms of having a play and just seeing what things might do. This was a strange type of plastic that behaved differently and didn’t really melt onto the blue – it was a mystery to both of us! But, it did make the most intriguing shapes…

Some of what Kim is doing, is new and in development, so I won’t be sharing everything. The potential of plastic is being realised all over as the world starts to deal with the huge problem we have and just seeing it all and working with some of it brought that home. Kim has a collection of buoys that get washed up – I found some on a couple of my walks so that’s now a little bit bigger, too. 😁

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