This project was initially inspired by a material sample involving cast urethane and acrylic paint. The paint could not be dissolved or smoothly incorporated. I instead stirred heavily to break up the paint in small particles, dispersing it more effectively throughout the urethane. I discovered that this process created a chemical reaction which caused the mixture to bubble and expand heavily before curing. The cured result was a light, voluminous, rigid cell structure. I was incredibly intrigued by the unexpected and unique reaction.
I constructed a basic mould from styrene, connected with resin-bond. There were eight segments, 4x1.5 inches with an approximate 45-degree bevel on the bottom edges. As this was an unknown chemical reaction, immense safety precautions were taken with PPE and ventilation. The pieces were only handled when the reaction had long ended. The casting process began with a test sample to ensure the paints would react. This time I mixed black and dark blue paints. The sample produced a tightly celled structure in a layer just below the top surface. I attempted to mimic this structure in the final casts, but unfortunately didn’t incorporate enough paint to do so. The final pieces were cast with the same paints, using a total of 22 fl oz or plastic for the eight pieces. After curing and demoulding, it was apparent that the texture was not exactly what I had desired. Nonetheless, the paint particles which had settles at the bottom created unique and interesting patterns.
I cut the back edges off of the pieces on a band-saw before doing surfacing on a wet-sander. I did the faceting of the crystalline forms at this point. I chose to keep the form rough, making each piece unique and slightly more organic (as compared to a moulded cast). I did a small amount of hand sanding and then lightly buffed the edges to achieve a smoother texture. I then drilled holes in the back of the pieces for structural wire and cord. Admittedly, I did a poor job with the drilling, with more time I could have created a jig for replicable drilling.
Lastly, I bend a length of 1/8-inch steel wire- giving it a slight downward and outwards curve to better match the form of the neck and upper chest areas. I threaded the wire, and then a waxed cord for attachment. I tied two fisherman’s knots in the cord for adjustability.