Thursday, 30 July 2015

Flightless Angels

Today, feeling a bit better again, I decided to devote the morning to some experimental work in my ARTHaven. EPIC FAIL. However, I decided to blog about it anyway, because I did come up with some interesting results, even if none of them were useable for the purpose I wanted – some may be able to be developed further and used differently, and it’s always good to learn from one’s mistakes!

The other day I made these moulds from the metal angel wings I recently got from Etsy.

02 Angel Wings and Misc Charms 28-7

I needed to discover what kind of materials would work with these extremely shallow moulds, that would be strong enough and flexible enough not to be brittle. Today’s experiments were mostly with UTEE (Ultra-Thick Embossing Enamel), and also a little with Angelina Fibre and Fantasy Film.

My first plan was to use one of the large wing moulds to make some transparent wings by pouring in clear UTEE. First of all I painted the inside of the mould with some dry Perfect Pearls in Perfect Gold.

01 Painting Large Mould with Perfect Pearls

Using my melting pot, I melted some UTEE which was already in there, which had been mixed with UTEE Flex (granules which you add to UTEE to keep it flexible). Pouring it into the mould wasn’t a great success. It was hard not to get far too much in. I scraped half of it back into the pot with the spatula.

02 UTEE Poured onto Large Mould

Once it was set, I peeled off the mould. The UTEE was so thin that it tore, and wasn’t all there! The effect was nice, though.

03 UTEE Removed from Large Mould

Here’s a detail, showing the shimmer of the Perfect Pearls showing through the clear UTEE.

04 Shimmer on UTEE from Large Mould

It was obviously extremely flexible and unsuitable for self-supporting wings. This technique might possibly work if the piece was being applied to a flat surface as an embellishment, though.

I then moved on to the smaller mould, and decided on a different approach, this time sprinkling on UTEE and melting it with my heat gun. This time I used gold UTEE. I had to hold the heat gun well back so as not to blow the UTEE away, but close enough to start to melt the surface of the granules and make them tacky, after which I could zoom in with the heat gun and melt it easily. Here it is after the first layer had been melted.

05 1st Layer of Gold UTEE Melted on Small Mould

While it was still warm and tacky, I added another layer of UTEE and melted that.

06 2nd Layer of Gold UTEE Melted on Small Mould

The next photo shows the third layer of UTEE having been added, and about to be melted.

07 3rd Layer of Gold UTEE Sprinkled on Small Mould

Once it was cool, I peeled the mould off, and was surprised to find that where the top surface was bright gold, the surface that had been in contact with the mould was a dull brown! Very disappointing. Maybe this was the result of repeated heating.

08 Gold UTEE Removed from Small Mould - Back

It felt fairly strong and slightly flexible, and I was able to trim away the excess with scissors.

09 Gold UTEE from Small Mould Trimmed - Back

However, on flexing it a little further, it broke.

10 Gold UTEE from Small Mould Broken

My third test was to use the sprinkling method with the heat gun, but to add some UTEE flex. I painted the mould with Perfect Pearls again and melted a layer of clear UTEE. Once it was melted, I sprinkled on some of the Flex granules and melted it again, and then added two more layers of clear UTEE, melting each separately.

I did find that the melting UTEE tended to creep away from the mould and create holes in itself. I am not sure if the Perfect Pearls were making the surface of the mould too non-stick. Eventually as I added more UTEE, it seemed to fill up OK.

Here is is, cooling.

11 Clear UTEE Melted with UTEE Flex on Small Mould

After it had been removed from the mould.

12 Clear UTEE and UTEE Flex Removed from Mould

Again I trimmed this with scissors, and again, managed to break off the tip.

13 Clear UTEE and UTEE Flex Trimming and Broken

This time I decided to try and mend it, by pressing the broken edge of each piece onto the surface of the melting pot to soften it, and then pressed them together.

14 Clear UTEE and UTEE Flex Mended

I heated the whole thing gently from the top which eventually got rid of the join. I think a piece made in this way would be ideal to mount supported on a flat surface as an embellishment, but I don’t think it would stand up in flight!

Being unconvinced that it was strong enough not to break, I decided to re-melt it, and this time to spread some Angelina fibres over the melted UTEE in the hope that they might strengthen it. This is the back, after it was pulled off the mould. Quite opaque-looking.

15 Clear UTEE Strengthened with Angelina Fibre - Back

This is the front. Quite a mess. You can’t see much of the definition of the wing detail.

16 Clear UTEE Strengthened with Angelina Fibre - Front

The back, after trimming.

17 Clear UTEE Strengthened with Angelina Fibre Trimmed - Back

The front, after trimming.

18 Clear UTEE Strengthened with Angelina Fibre Trimmed - Front

Not a huge success.

I decided to try laying a piece of Fantasy Film over the mould and putting UTEE on top of that and melting it, hoping that the Fantasy Film would pick up the detail of the mould, but it just shrank and crept away from the mould, and I ended up with a shapeless piece which was somewhat wrinkled and pitted. It was an interesting effect, though, with iridescent shimmery colours, and I may be able to use this piece in other projects.

19 Fantasty Film and UTEE Layered

While still thinking about Angelina Fibre and Fantasy film, I decided to try a technique I have used before with rubber stamps. This doesn’t always seem to work, and it does seem to depend on what colour of Angelina Fibre you use, for the image to show up nice and clearly.

I spread some Angelina Fibre over the mould and laid a piece of non-stick silicone baking parchment over the top and ironed it.

20 Ironing Angelina Fibres Over Mould

Very unsatisfactory! All it did was flatten and fuse the Angelina Fibre and no image was visible. Simple stamps without too much detail work best for this technique, I think, and probably much deeper-etched ones than the depth of my very shallow mould.

I tried the same with Fantasy Film laid down first, and then Angelina Fibre. Same result. Total failure!

21 Ironing Angelina Fibres and Fantasy Film Over Mould

Here are all my failures together.

22 All My Failures

Oh well.

I need a new material to fill these very shallow moulds. I am sure that polymer clay is going to be too brittle to use this thin. There is a possibility that Friendly Plastic pellets may work, and when I next cast some things from moulds, which will be soon, I am going to try using this with these moulds, but because this stuff is more like clay in consistency when melted, and not pourable, I think it may be hard to fill the moulds neatly, and difficult to trim them afterwards once they are set. FP ends up fairly hard, and this thin, it may break.

I discovered something called silk clay last night and that might possibly work. This stuff behaves like modelling clay but sets to a lightweight rubbery substance which may stand up if the pieces are not too large. I need something strong enough not to break, and slightly flexible so it isn’t brittle, but not so flexible that it won’t stand up under its own weight.

For the moment it looks as if my angels are going to remain flightless, unless anyone can come up with some helpful suggestions!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my - you ARE persistent, aren't you??? :) Good luck with your project, Shoshi! (This very Clean and Simple girl cannot help you in the least!)

    ReplyDelete

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