Along with my mini skull trophies & a few other things i have planned with sets of each project to be in plaster & PM. It occurred to me whilst i want to do some work in plaster for sure i don't want to totally abandon my PM roots. It further occurred to me that since i am not strictly sticking to the true PM code 100% more leaking into the realms of (God i hate the term) mixed media creations if i am to be honest with myself here. So i have set myself the challenge of blending the two worlds of plaster casting & (ugh!) mixed media creating which i do already. This way in 'my' mind at least i am still not straying totally from my creation method or materials i choose to limit myself to, well not so much more really.
As it turns out (whats new lol) i won't be the first to experiment with combining plaster & pulp which is just a variation on the paper clay theme anyway which consists of combining clay & pulp. What i have found (or not found so far - theres hope yet then) is anyone documenting anything relating to having had any positive results. Now this could simply mean that someone out there HAS found the perfect combination that produces a plaster like finish with a dramatically reduced weight ratio on the dried project whist not compromising strength or even aiding it. Or it could simply be that no one has found a combination worth noting?
Either way apart from not wanting to go flying off totally into the mixed medial world regardless of the materials used as long as there is a token amount of PM involved to still be able to state is is a PM mixed media piece (what a contradiction honestly!) materials such as metal, plastic, foam, cloth etc. I want to try to create a medium that IS as much PM as mixed medium. Also to be able to continue working as i do with as near totally 'hollow' creations as possible. Imagine it hollow plaster forms that weren't created in super expensive commerical pressure molding machinery. Plaster creations made by anyone at home by hand with or without some pre-cast molds involved.
So this brings me back to my new experiments then. Creating a working plaster pulp medium that can be classified either plaster, PM or even (cough!) mixed media if need be. A mix anyone virtually of any age can make at home in minutes & apply to virtually 'any' project creation. Projects that can be as hollow as they want to be & at any scale too. with half or less than the weight of straight plaster but twice (or more - ah i can dream can't i?) the strength of plaster or pure PM (no internal strengtheners such as wire etc) but more than anything reducing the amount of plaster with reducing costs in mind for large projects. Remember 'everything' i do & show you here IS with those who may be working on a tight cash budget here.
Okay before i begin this set of experiments i need to establish some ground rues for it since i don't own a high end testing facility (unless you count my kitchen as one?) i need to set some parameters that will be used on ALL the tests. It turns out my OWN home made pulp is just as refined as the commercial batch of Claycrete i purchased at £10+ (GBP) for 1lb so i will be using my own home made pulp in these experiments. The pulp will be made from old glossy computer magazines none bleached.
PREPARING SAMPLES/TEST BATCHES:
1) ALL test batch samples are to be made from the SAME commercial refined sculpting plaster & home made pulp.
2) Each NEW test batch will have a set of two 'control' samples of pure plaster made up to the same plaster content as each NEW batch prior to adding the pulp. Two plaster/pulp mixed batches & a single small two part crude skull mold.
3) ALL large pieces of each test batch will be cast in a simple mold consisting of identical medium sized ice cream plastic tub lids giving test pieces of around 3mm in thickness.
4) Each NEW small (two part) skull cast will be push molded to a thickness of approximately 1mm.
5) ALL test samples will be allowed to dry fully (air dried) before final tests begin including the sample skull mold castings.
The test samples will be judged on three levels:
1: strength. Each large flat 3mm piece will be equally stationed over two supports, then subjected to incremental weight additions to the unsupported center section. Strength will be determined at the point of breaking as the final weight is added. Both test pieces of each batch will be subjected to the identical test. Any difference (high - low) in each weight test with be judged as weakest/strongest accordingly.
2: Quality of each cast produced from the same small skull latex mold.
3: workable times. This will be determined by rolling, squeezing, kneading the entire amount of mix to be used in the small skull mold within my hands (no gloves) prior to adding to the two mold halves. The final dried skull casts finish will determine the final quality judgement & may vary according to mix ratios.
I think that establishes a fair set of tests for my experiments. I did run a quick set of test pieces using some of the Claycrete pulp as laid out in the test rules listed above. This helped me come to this set of rules & conditions for the final tests. I have not posted pictures of the large flat sample pieces for you to see since i will be using my OWN home made pulp for all the proper experiments later. I have posted a picture of the first run of the small skull test pieces.
I will be starting these tests properly mid week next week. How long they take to prepare then dry i cannot say at this time so i can't give any time scales for the results as yet obviously. I will how ever post the results here both in a standard post & in the files section (for any wannabe experimenters among us lol) as well as on my blog too.
so far the dry run test batches have proven to be as expected & in some small ways a little more than expected with the small two part skull being far stronger & smoother than anticipated.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED:
The plaster pulp mixture i used for my first dry run experiment that helped me establish the rules for my test consisted of:
PLASTER (FINE GRADE SCULPTING PLASTER): 12oz
PULP (CLAYCRETE): 4oz
WATER (ROOM TEMP): 10fl/oz
The resulting 'P&P Mix' or 'PlasterPulp Mix' (my chosen name if i make this work) remained malleable in my hands for some 15 minutes before finally adding to the small latex skull mold. For the mix ratios given above I'd recommend a 10 minute limit at best before attempting to add to any soft mold form (whilst it is still fairly wet). I let mine go a little dry on purpose to see the casting result. 15 minutes left my test piece a little too dry to work into the mold sufficiently enough to create a truly 'smooth' finish. Saying that the results are good if not fantastic considering how dry it was in my hands before adding it to the latex mold. See picture below:
So that's how my experiments are going to run, that's how i made my first dry run test batch to gauge my experiments on. You have (can see) my first ever attempt so come on experimenters or even those who don't lets see some messy results - It's fun trust me lol.