Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Rebecca Smith - Project progress

The project has gone into full making mode and a lot of research and testing has happened over the last few weeks. The first lampshade that I wanted to do was the large mushroom, as it would need the most time to cure as it will be made from concrete. The decision to use concrete for this particular shade is because of its curved and fluid look. Concrete is sometimes associated with harsh angles, and large bulky mass. This item will celebrate its diversity and ability to create beautiful and fluid curves.

The first stage of exploration was to research how these curves could be achieved, the shade would need to be thin enough that it could be placed on top of a stand, whilst being as lightweight as possible so it did not buckle the metal that separated it from the bulb. Once this research was done and equipment was sourced, the first tests were made. These were made using a white concrete mix, with no aggregate so a smooth finish could be obtained. Plastic bowls were used as moulds and three tests were done, experimenting with perforation and pattern. The outcomes were all successful, they were structurally sound and the shape achieved was exactly as desired. The patterned one did not come out as well as the concrete did not fill into all of the gaps, but the perforated one made the interplay of light very interesting.
Now that the tests are complete, a larger and more detailed shade is in the process of being made, along with a stand so it mimics the shape of the mushroom.

First concrete bowl experiment

The next shade to be made is the shell. This will be made out of oak veneer due to its flexibility and delicateness. This material will allow light to permeate through and create a warm light. The design for the shade takes elements from the plastic shade, but will be smaller in scale and will house the bulb differently. This is because of the nature of the material and close contact to a heat source may cause the veneer to scorch so to eliminate any problems, the shade will be used for a suspended light, allowing a constant flow of air through it.

Tests have been done looking at how to join the veneer without creating too much bulk. Using its application within architecture, a knowledge of how this material is connected to other materials has helped developed an understanding of its versatility as well as how fragile it is. These are considerations that have been thought out within the design.

Oak veneer for shell lampshade

The veneer came as a roll and due to its expense, the design has to ensure that there is minimum wastage. The first trial was using paper to work out dimensions and lengths needed. These were successful but there is still some work to be done to ascertain how these will be connected.

The project is constantly pushing my learning further and my knowledge of the materials and their qualities is being expanded on a weekly basis. The tests and research have been invaluable, especially with concrete, as each test can produce a different result, and so using these tests has enabled me to decide on a particular course of action for the final piece.
The other four shades have all been designed and the materials have been decided, they will use paper, copper, fabric and plaster. Taking time to look at the plastic shades within the MoDiP collection has helped understand their construction, and something that I did not expect was their fragility. Plastics are sometimes though to be robust and everlasting, but examining some of these shades highlights how delicate and easily broken they can become, and so using architectural materials, increasing the longevity of an item, has added another layer to the project.

Rebecca Smith (Student Creative)

Rebecca is a 2nd year BA (hons) Architecture student at the Arts University Bournemouth

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