The class this week focused on exploring techniques and applications of technical textiles in the industry. We were introduced to the idea of designing custom processes that need a set of tools, a few processes and a consistent workflow.
We looked at applications and we experimented with many materials and machines.
- Composites like Bio-composites and Textile Composites
- Bio Resin and Resin to create compact fabric composites that can later be milled
- Veneer, wood and fabric connected using glue to create geometric surfaces
- using Borax, Rochelle salt, Potasium sodium, Epsom Salt, Sugar to make the crystals)
- Fabric formwork
- Concrete and Plaster
- Vacuum bags and vacuum machine.
Each student can use a different technique to make a prototype of a technical textile application
For this assignment you will require to build up your tools (container for molds, vacuum bag set up, frames, matrix, recipients) and process for your workflow. You may use any machine of the fab lab, laser cutter, 3D printer, CNC milling or make it manually. Tip: Give special importance to 3D dimensional geometries you are making and the technique you are using to create them.
I was really drawn to the idea that I could use fabric to create a form for a tough-wearing material like concrete, plaster or resin. My volunteer work with Architecture for Humanity UK has led me to be involved with so many interior and construction projects and roles, that combining the two seemed to really fit.
Being a lover of zero waste ideas, I have a stash of fabric remnants and offcuts, so I used these to start experimenting.
I also wasn’t sure if the fabrics needed to be coated with something first to resist being permanently attached to the fabrics. This let me to experiment with two materials, wax and air-drying clay.
I first being to sew samples in jean material and cotton poplin, then I melted wax and painted it into the fabric surfaces. This would hopefully act like a barrier when pouring in a material which was due to harden like concrete of plaster, but it also gave the unexpected advantage of being able to form and set the fabric in the shape that I wanted it to be.
The same happened with the air-drying clay; first I wet the fabric then I massaged the wettish clay into the fabric. When the fabric dries, it creates a kind of dusty texture like a talcum powder, so this also seemed a worthy test to have done.
I used the ideas of each of these to create more shapes and fabric forms over the week.
Knitted Fabric formation with concrete
One of my favourite concept was the concrete with the knitting impression in it. I set about using some previous hand knitted textile samples. I started by creating a simple pouch by folding the sample in half, then stitching the edges up. I knew from the tutorials that the textile would stretch out and there should be a secondary barrier, so I also created a pouch put of jersey stretch fabric that the knitted pouch would sit in. I sewed the two pouches together and left a gap at the top centre where the concrete would be poured in.
Here are the preparation stages, right up to the point after the wet concrete had been poured in.
Here are the stages afterwards, where the concrete has dried and I am peeling off the fabric. I let the concrete sit for just under 72hours over a weekend.
The smallest piece had a block of wood pushed into it after it was filled with concrete. I intended it to act like a whole to indent into the form, but I think it went too near the base and it also caused the piece to crack. I think it would be different if the piece had a fabric layer to protect it as the large one did.
The largest piece also had a block of wood pushed ito it but this was horizontally along one side of the pouch and it also had the 2 knitted and fabric layers sandwiched in between. This gave great results and is also now a functional piece. It is nice to know that once the pouch is full of concrete, it can still be moulded into another form. I must say it is my favourite piece so far.
Other Concrete fabric formations
I also tested making concrete forms in other kinds of fabric, mainly jean as I felt it was the wrongest and probably the most durable out of the fabrics I has started with. This piece was stitched and sewed to created a zigzag raised texture, then I stapled it into a wooden frame, before pouring the concrete in.
I also tried the cotton popelin piece which had been painted in wax. The cotton ripped easily and it was easy to pull of and resisted the concrete well, aside from the fabric getting stuck in a crease and causing the sample to break in half! Next time I will be aware of too many fine folds not working in concrete. THis is why I want to test out the plaster.
Group test: Textile composites using Vaacuum forming (and later milling)
Part 1 – Bio resin made with gelatin
Part 2 – Resin and vacuum
We also wanted to test a traditional resin that would definitely give us a very hard solid. We used 100ml of resin & 2ml of meta (*). After stirring, we began dipping each piece of fabric in the mixture, squeezed of any excess and layering the pieces up as before. We used a fibre glass fabric as to wrap the layers in nd another foam fabric as the “bleed” fabric. We then put it in the vacuum and left it on auto where it will be for 24h.
Afterwards we plan to mill it down and see what happens!
Structural Windings and Crystals
Part 1 – preparation and structure
Looking at geometric windings, I thought it might be interesting to follow some traditional techniques. I decided to scavenge some pieces of wood from the FabLab to use as a base and upright structure. I marked out points along the side of a circular piece and an upright block and then hammed in nails all alomg the points, maintaining a straight line. I then began to wrap the yarn around the nails, starting at the base at the upright rod and continued left and right around the nails.
Part 2 – Crystallisation
Whilst making the textiles scaffold, I realised that this way of using using yarn on a wooden and nail structure would also be good for creating a crystal design. We did some tests on class to see which crystals would grow best by following the recipes from the tutorial. We tried sugar and salt on a small piece of the same yarn, which we tested to be a natural plant fibre. The sugar crystals take a while to grown and the alum is faster. See the results below.
I would like to continue this part of the project and immerse the whole structure in a crystal solution. Here are the tests using alum solution: