FAT Project

FAT Project, Personal Projects, The Kiln Rooms/Ceramic works

I want to further develop my ideas around my body, how it feels to inhabit a fat body, and a non-binary body, and how it is viewed by the outside world. I still need to upload my FAT zine on here, which I want to make as a digital version as well, and continue on in that vein. As part of this I began making a sculpture a few months back in The Kiln Rooms, which I need to finish sculpting and then fire and glaze.

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Above: photos of the sculpture in progress- it is hand sculpted from white stoneware clay, and is a self portrait based on photos I took of my own body in the same pose (which I won’t upload here, for various reasons). I need to work on the legs, feet, and boobs a little bit more, but I am planning to leave it headless and arm-less, as I want to concentrate more on main body, and I quite like that it resembles a broken classical marble sculpture. When I have finished sculpting it I plan to fire it and glaze it with a white satin glaze, to give it the silky white texture and look of a marble sculpture.

I started making this as a way to come to terms with the reality of how my body really looks- selfies and photos taken by others often aren’t 100% honest depictions and I wanted to challenge myself to see myself in a more objective way, to help build on the vein of self love and acceptance I have been working so hard to cultivate. I am hoping to make more of these small maquettes, in different poses, as part of this. It also got me thinking- its’ resemblance to a classical marble sculpture made me realise we so rarely anything other than idealised versions of the human form in art, and particularly in sculpture. Even artists who sculpt self portraits and cast from life tend to be able bodied and cisgender, with conventionally attractive or at least socially acceptable bodies. I think it would help a lot of people who don’t fit these margins to see bodies more like their own represented in museums and galleries, as we have always existed but are too often left out of art and history for conforming.

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Above: images of works by Marc Quinn, exploring the bodies of disabled people, taken from his website

I am particularly inspired by the work of sculptor Marc Quinn, who has sculpted people with different disabilities. However as someone who identifies as disabled (due to my long term mental health issues) I find it somewhat uncomfortable that someone who is not disabled is making work about it. This is because it almost feels voyeuristic, and a little bit like fetishisation, although I’m sure it isn’t meant to come across this way. I do enjoy the idea of having these unconventional bodies created in this particular medium and put on display in gallery and museum settings- as I think representation and diversity are super important; but I think more needs to be done to elevate disabled artists and give us our own platforms to create, share, and display our works. This is a systemic issue in the art world that needs to be tackled and discussed by all of us. I would like to create work that explores and celebrates diverse bodies in a way inspired by this, but from the perspective of someone who actually has a body that doesn’t fit the norm.

As well as my FAT zine I also created the video “I Can’t Help the Way I Feel (My Fat Body)” in response to the sculpture “I Can’t Help the way I Feel” by artist John Isaacs, pictured below, and the drawing workshop  of the same name. This thread is something I am keen to continue exploring through various mediums, as it is important to me and a part of my journey in self love and self growth.

john-isaac-i-can-t-help

I think further research and exploration into the subject needs to be done, which I am going to endeavor to do in my own practice going forwards with this project. I plan to start by visiting art galleries/museums to examine classical sculptures- I want to do some drawings and take some photos for inspiration and see where that takes me.

Weekly blog 24/06/19 – 28/06/19

river project, UNIT 2, Weekly Summaries, Weekly To Do Lists, Work in Progress

Monday 24/06/19

  • I also picked up one of the big 3D printed bones, shown in the video below
  • The ceramic bones have been fired with the glaze on and I am really happy with how they turned out! The textures are really highlighted by the glaze, and they have that new ceramic sheen which is really satisfying to look at and to handle

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  • Worked on the aluminium pieces- the dremels are all busted, so I tried using a different tool, but the aluminium was so soft that it clogged up the bit
  • Ended up using a saw, files, and sandpaper to work on them by hand instead- 3 of them just need to be worked into with the engraving tool, and the other 2 still need some work with the hand tools

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Tuesday 25/06/19

  • Spent most of today painting and sorting out my space for the show- I just need to sweep and mop the floor and get the table and stools in and it is basically ready to go
  • got my table top cut in the wood workshop, and painted it with the first coat of white
  • grabbed the black trestle legs left behind by the BA students for my table

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  • Picked up another of my large 3D prints- this one looks a lot smoother that the first one, but the technicians were not sure if it was due to using a different 3D printer, or the file type
  • Sent two more giant bones to print
  • Also discussed my Selected Showcase idea with Jonathan, and tested out projecting the video onto the 2 big 3D prints- I really like how it looks but it comes with a set of challenges I will discuss on a separate post

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Friday 28/06/19

  • Spent the last two days very ill, but got back in today, and did some more work on my 3D prints, as the foundry and metal workshop were both shut

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Experimenting with Meshmixer 05/06/19

UNIT 2, Videos, Work in Progress

Meshmixer Sped up Test from Kat Outten on Vimeo.

After my first attempt editing an iPad scan of my bone didn’t go so well (you could see where I dragged the mesh, and this was visible on the 3D print) I was a bit hesitant to try again. This video was originally a 5 and half min screen cap of some playing around with another bone scan, to get a feel for the tools and how the programme works, which I sped up to 2 mins. You can see me trying different tools and playing with softening the shape, which I didn’t end up keeping.

screen cap bone 2 ipad.JPG

This screenshot shows the bone before any editing was done- the raw scan.

I feel a little more confident to use Meshmixer now, and I plan on cleaning the rest of the iPad bone scans up, just to see how the shapes have turned out.

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Weekly blog 03/06/19 – 07/06/19

Photographs, river project, UNIT 2, Videos, Weekly Summaries, Work in Progress

Monday 03/06/19

  • Took moulds from foundry down to Ceramics studio and started testing them out
  • The clay is much softer than anticipated- I am used to more solid materials such as the wax, so de-moulding has proven more difficult- the clay loses shape as soon as you try to pull it out of the moulds
  • I found leaving the clay in the moulds to dry a little helped, but not much
  • I only managed to get one clay bone finished; I had to do a lot more work to it than I was used to doing with the wax to get it to look right, using the real bone for reference

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  • I also popped into the 3D workshop to chat about the new scanner with the technician, Jonathan, and ended up doing a scan of one of my bones then and there

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Tuesday 04/06/19

  • I booked out the photography studio last week for this morning, to photograph all my sculptures so far, with the help of Richard, the technician
  • Ended up coming back after lunch and staying there til 3.30ish, as some pieces proved trickier to photograph

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  • I took 360 pics of all the pieces except for the two brick casts and the bronze casts, and I plan to animate them into little gifs for my website
  • I learnt a lot about how to light different shapes and materials, which I hope I can try to mimic at home with a flexible desk lamp, fabric, and a white table or sheet- Richard definitely taught me that you don’t always need the fancy equipment available at uni
  • Didn’t get time to go to ceramics again, as planned, so I went to the 3D workshop to do more 3D scans instead
  • I ended up with a few fixable scans, and one mutant scan- I scanned it twice at two different angles, but the software stitched it together wrong, giving me a mutant bone

20190604_164439(0).jpg

Wednesday 05/06/19

  • Made progress on remaking my Symposium video (I lost the entire thing because the programme I was using crashed)
  • Had to go to work in the evening

Thursday 06/06/19

  • Morning group tutorial- we discussed show details and I am happy with the space I have been allocated
  • Edited one of the iPad bone scans and sent it to print
  • Made some more progress on remaking the symposium video

Friday 07/06/19

  • Visited Jonathan in 3D and scanned the bones that went wrong on Tuesday- he showed me how to do multiple scans and match them up to get a better 3D model
  • I have one bone left to scan- I just need to do that and clean up the scans on MeshMixer and they will be ready to 3D print

3D Printing iPad Scan

river project, UNIT 2, Videos, Work in Progress

The scans using the iPad didn’t pick up much detail, but captured the shape of the bone quite well- I then used Meshmixer to try and get rid of the pen I used to prop up the bone, which was harder than I expected- cutting it off was the easy part, but I struggled to figure out how to seal up the hole left in the mesh. I haven’t shown this part in the video, as I forgot to record it, but you can see on the 3D print where I dragged the mesh across in an attempt to seal up the hole, so I definitely need more practice with this! Overall though I am very happy with how the print came out, for a first attempt I think I did a good job, and going forwards I know I need to practice messing around on MeshMixer to make my other 3D scans and prints look better!

I am planning on scanning the rest with the iPad as well, to see what they come out like, and to act as a back up in case I can’t get them to work with photogrammetry in time.

3D Scanning using iPad 14/01/19

river project, UNIT 2, Videos, Weekly Summaries, Work in Progress

This video is of the Digital Media Technician Adamina demonstrating how to use the 3D scanning software and piece of kit for an iPad. This is one of the more basic 3D scanning techniques available, and as you can see the scan hasn’t picked up the details of the bone, only the rough shapes.

The next step for me is to install a free programme called MeshMixer and cut off the pen, as it came up in the scan, and seal up the piece. Then it will be ready to be 3D printed on Monday next week.

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These photos show the set up in the studio, including white backdrop, plinth, and lighting set up. We suspended the bone from nylon wire so that we could scan the whole object, and used a pen and blueback underneath it for stability- we needed it to be still for the scanning to work.

Next Steps:

  • download MeshMixer and clean up the scan for printing
  • meet with Adamina next Monday (I have booked an appointment with her) and send the scan to print
  • hopefully next week we will also experiment with photogrammetry, which she mentions in the video. This process is a bit more lengthy and complicated- I will have to borrow a camera and lens from uni, and photograph the object multiple times from multiple angles, and then upload these photos to a specialist programme that stitches everything together to create a 3D model. This will take a fair bit of time, and I might still need to work into the objects on the software to clean them up before we can send them to the 3D printer

Glass Wax Tests 11/01/19

Photographs, river project, UNIT 2, Videos, Weekly Summaries, Work in Progress

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Some photos taken of the process of casting with glass wax- the melting glass wax, the casts full of glass wax, and photos of the failed jaw bone casts and brick cast. Casting the brick hollow with glass wax is proving troublesome- the wax is very brittle and the sides of the cast keep breaking as I try to de-mould it. I will try one more time to cast it hollow but a bit thicker and if that doesn’t work I might have to cast it solid instead. The jaw bone pieces kept failing as the glass wax is too thick and not hot enough to flow all the way through the moulds- I will try to get it hotter next time, but I have to be careful in case the wax gets too hot and the colour changes.

Video demonstrating the properties of glass wax and the casting process.
I wanted to explore the properties and materiality of glass wax, and these are the results so far.
Clip 1: the chunk of unmelted glass wax, demonstrating what it looks like before it is melted and cast- you can see how the light refracts and passes through it.
Clip 2 and 3: the glass wax as it melts, showing the viscosity and how it stretches and flows much like real glass when in molten form. It is very different to other waxes I have used in the past.
Clips 4 and 5: the first attempts at casting the jaw bones in glass wax- as you can see the wax didn’t flow completely through the moulds as it was not hot enough and cooled too fast. I will try again but with the wax much hotter so hopefully it will flow through the moulds properly.
The rest of the clips: the other bone casts in glass wax.

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These photos show the second attempt at casting the jaw bones in glass wax (still not hot enough), the glass wax casts all together, the broken hollow brick cast (the details were captured beautifully, it’s just a shame that the sides broke), and one of the glass wax casts lit by Jonathan’s phone torch- as an experiment to see how light travels through them. I think going forwards I would like to photograph the glass wax pieces with a light source beneath them like this, but using a more professional set up.

Notes on glass wax:

  • Properties- melts differently to waxes I have used in the past (i.e. the green and orange waxes used in uni, soy wax, paraffin wax, beeswax)
  • As it melts it goes quite stringy and is still very thick and viscous, can be stretched into glass-like threads that look like nylon thread
  • It sets VERY quickly and needs to be quite hot to pour well, but you have to be super careful not to overheat it as it can make the wax change colour
  • You can add oil paint as a pigment to glass wax, but I’m more interested in how it looks originally- like a translucent glass
  • I might do one or two in colour just to see what it looks like, but we’ll see
  • It is quite brittle- I tried to make a hollow brick cast and the sides shattered (like glass) as I tried to remove the cast- if I retry this I will need to make it thicker
  • It picks up detail really beautifully and I’m definitely impressed
  • I need to redo the jaw bones in glass wax as the wax wasn’t hot enough and as a result didn’t flow through the moulds properly

 

Using an Engraving Tool on the Bronze Brick

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Process Video: Using an Engraving Tool from Kat Outten on Vimeo.

This short clip shows how I have been using an electric engraving tool to work details back into the surface of the brick wherever it was lost due to the casting process. The shiny parts are where I have used an angle grinder or Dremel tool previously to get rid of runners, risers, and other imperfections on the surface of the bronze. I have to take frequent breaks when using these tools, and swap hands often, as the vibration from the tool makes my wrists ache, but otherwise it is fairly simple to use. As always I follow safety protocol, wearing a visor, ear protection, dust mask, and gloves to protect myself, as well as having the extractor fan on and handling all tools safely and responsibly.

Work in the Interim Show

Exhibitions, river project, Videos

Video of my work in the show, including close up clips of each finished bronze piece, and a clip of the whole display.

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The two photos above show the set up for the exhibition, and one of the visitors interacting with my objects. The back row of objects are the real bones that each bronze was cast from, with the cast displayed in front of each one. I chose this format as I wanted to see whether viewers would be more likely to pick up the bones or the bronze casts, and i wanted it to have an almost museum-like feel to the display. I did put in the artwork description “Please Touch Me” but as it wasn’t very visible not many visitors did pick up or interact with the objects like I wanted. As well as the label not being very visible I also feel that the gallery space, as a concept, probably contributed to the lack of interaction- in most galleries and museums the audience is highly discouraged, if not prohibited, from touching the artworks. This is something I am very much against, and want to challenge with my work, so going forwards I think I need to make it clearer to the audience that they can and should pick up and touch my work. I will probably do this through larger and clearer signage, but I will have to see what happens at our next show, and what is possible with the space we have.

The feedback I got from people who did pick up and touch my work was overwhelmingly positive- I was asked about my walks and how/where I collected the objects, I was questioned about the process of casting, and about the ideas behind the project. Although my display was simple I was very pleased with how it looked, and I thought that it fit well with my classmates work, although our work was quite different nothing looked out of place and it was visually cohesive. I did find it difficult to stay in the room for more than five minutes at a time though, due to the combination of sounds from my classmates work. It was quite overwhelming so I found myself frequently wandering around the other spaces in the exhibition whilst invigilating.

Applying the Patina

river project, Videos, Work in Progress

A patina can refer to the natural colouration that happens over time to bronze, as the copper in the alloy reacts to oxygen, or it can refer to a man-made process where a chemical mixture is heated onto the surface of the bronze, to achieve different colours and effects. I am referring to the man-made process, and the above video shows foundry technician Becky Stevenson demonstrating how to apply a patina to one of my bronze pieces.

I then replicated what she had shown me, and once the pieces had cooled down I then applied two coats of wax, by hand using a cloth, to each piece to seal the colour.

This was definitely one of the more fun parts of the whole casting process! It was a chance to experiment and play with the different colours and effects that the application of heat and layering of the patina could achieve and I am super happy with how they turned out!