Recently, for my Space and Materiality class, I was introduced alongside my class to the Wet Lab down in the basement of the Parsons building for the purposes of succeeding in creating a form or sculpture out of plaster from a styrofoam prototype or base as part of my second project. For several classes, I, with much frustration, attempted to adjust my attitude and motivation to use the principles of drawing parabolic curves with straight lines to create 2-D forms and apply them onto several styrofoam boards, then cut them with an olfa knife in order to have 3-D styrofoam forms. The real challenge was then using plaster to create a mold out of the styrofoam form. I had to force myself to be somewhat enthusiastic about learning how to mix plaster with water to make it goopy and wet (I do not like getting my hands dirty, at least physically, when it comes to artwork), and about learning how to operate some of the machinery in the Wet Lab in order to prevent plaster powder particles from being inhaled into my lungs that could in the future cause cancer among other diseases. But that’s besides the point. Then, after going through the grueling (get it?) process of learning how to mix plaster (and how much to add relative to the water in my pail), I had to learn how to coat my styrofoam form in plaster and wait for it to harden in order to form my desired mold. Being a novice to this sort of thing, finding the time outside of class to actually create my molds was hard enough, so for about a week, I was behind everyone else trying to play catch up so I could at least produce something passable. My first styrofoam form and my first resulting plaster mold (which was practice), was…boring and average, at least in my opinion, looking more like a strange white cannoli or penne pasta than anything I could envision if I pushed myself. To make matters worse, a few days after I had created it (with some confidence in myself after successfully creating my plaster mold without getting lung cancer), I was stupid enough to accidentally break my mold in half (being fragile) when I had tried to insert my laptop into a inside front pocket of my backpack– the same pocket where I had carefully inserted my initial mold in. After this minor setback, I found out the class was doing final molds, and so I came up with two separate forms using the parabolic line curve techniques from my prior lessons on another styrofoam board the day before my next class. These forms, unlike my previous iteration, were forms I was actually excited to see come to life in a plaster mold– one looked like some sort of alien spaceship, the other more like a traditional spaceship from the “United Alliance of Earth” or some science fiction mumbo-jumbo like that. Showing my board to my professor, I then cut out the forms using an olfa knife, and even bent them a little bit in certain half-cult sections to add depth and dynamics to them. After cutting the styrofoam, I realized that I could connect both of them in some way, as my pictures will show below– with one pointy edge of the alien spaceship form interlocking with the circular opening of the end of my other form, as if one were eating or grabbing the other, something I had not even consciously realized. My professor taught me in the last few days that if I wanted to maintain the angles and folds of my styrofoam forms for my plaster molds, I should use bent and wire and tape before I lathered the bottom half of my styrofoam forms with plaster. Today, on March 1st, I spent all of class in the Wet Lab making sure my molds would come out perfect, dunking my hands in a sea of wet plaster and lathering that plaster over the bottom of my styrofoam forms. Of course, I encountered multiple difficulties– one being that I had not remembered I had to buy my own plaster (irritating enough), forcing me to borrow some from my professor, who I frankly thought saw me as a mediocre (gasp!) student, and another being that by the time my plaster had hardened over my styrofoam form, my professor had commented the thickness of the plaster was too thin, and that I had to add another layer in order to make the resulting mold stronger. Following this, my second batch of wet plaster had too much powdery plaster since I had decided to add more plaster to my water container this time around, as opposed to too little like the other times I made batches to use for lathering. This caused my second batch to harden too quickly and not be “wet” enough for much mixing, so I had to spend several minutes trying to scrape off and dump the semi-hard, partially liquid plaster into the designated trash can for hard plaster only. Towards the end of class, I persevered and managed to make a third batch of plaster, this time making sure not too much plaster was added, and successfully added a second layer of plaster to my already hardened plaster molds. Because I was afraid of breaking the forms that I had worked so hard for (and partially because I wasn’t sure whether extract the styrofoam form from the possibly brittle mold, or wait for it to harden more), I decided to leave them in the Lab under permission of the technician until this Friday. After taking my molds back on Thursday, one of them ended up breaking after I scraped them off of their styrofoam bases a little too roughly. Below are pictures of my entire process and my forms and molds. My “vessel” at the end– my final mold, technically fits the definition below because it can contain a liquid (when you turn it upside down), even though it is not hollow, but more so flat.
Its measurements are approx. 9 x 9.5 x 0.7-1 inches.