Fiber Sculpture Two

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment

For my presentation for symposium 1 I doodled some images to illustrate the concepts of “hybridity” and “mimicry”, and also included an image of an experimental texture that I made earlier (melange field 1 a digitally post-produced variant of a physical proof called fiber proof one).

image image
Doodles to illustrate the concepts of “hybridity” and “mimicry” and melange field one.

As my research encompasses duality I want to produce a similar piece but this time: using two materials with contrasting aspects; learning from and improving on how I made the fiber proof one; and taking inspiration from the concepts that I doodled.

For the first material I used the same fiber from melange field one: an industrial chunky and twisted wood/acrylic fiber blend. For the second material I elected to use a yellow-dyed (synthetic) raffia.

Picture of a wool/acrylic fibre Picture of yellow raffia
The raw materials: wool fibre and raffia.
Detail of a wood fiber strand Detail of a raffia fiber strand
Detailed view of the wool and raffia fibers.

These two materials have several contrasting attributes:

Wool Raffia
mostly natural (wool/acrylic blend) 100% synthetic (rayon)
round flat
multi-colored uni-colored
warm to touch cold to touch
coarse smooth

In terms of colour they are not complementary but are secondary to each other.

fiber proof one was made by affixing the wool fiber to canvas using gel medium. This was messy, and the variability in the horizontal alignment of the placed fibers was perhaps too random (and this was corrected in post production when the work was brought into the digital sphere). For fiber proof two I would attempt the following changes:

  • Instead of gluing the fibers to the canvas they would be guided and held in place and tensioned using nails or screws placed at the back of the frame, which would hopefully be less messy (no gel medium required) and less random (as the nails or screwed could be placed systematically)
  • The two materials would be looped against each other.
  • Inspired from my doodles, the position where the two materials would meet would form a curve.

I used Adobe Illustrator to generate a template which was fixed to the back of the canvas. I screwed in 50 self-cutting wood screws, then the two materials were guided by the screws and looped across the front on the canvas, before finally being tied off behind.

Cutting out a fixing template Affixing template to back of canvas Screws in place Finished, back view
Preparation, tedious but necessary.
Finished, front view, under interior light Finished, front view, under daylight
The final piece under interior lighting and in natural daylight.

Construction took longer than expected, but I am pleased with the result. The main challenge was maintaining the tension so that it did not collapse. There was some unintended twisting in the raffia and the effect is not displeasing.

I took fiber proof two into the digital realm where some light post production was applied using Adobe Photoshop (masking out the background and canvas with a neutral gray).

Fiber Proof Two. Raffia and Wool on canvas.
Fiber Proof Two. 200 × 200 × 30 mm. Raffia (rayon) and fiber (wool/acrylic) on canvas.

Comparing fiber proof two with the earlier fiber proof one (below) the result is a step forward.

Fiber Proof One. Wool on canvas with acrylic gel medium.
Fiber Proof One. 200 × 200 × 30 mm. Fiber (wool/acrylic) on canvas with acrylic gel medium.
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