7. Textile as Scaffold#

What I Made#

A Little Background#

In the early hours of a sunny Colorado morning in 2016, a group of palaeontologists, among whom a renowned scientist colloquially called Jurassic Bob, dug up the fossil of what looked like an animal scale. The palaeontologists had no idea where the scale came from and to what animal it had once belonged. It must have been a very large creature, considering the size of the scale, which was as big as the hand of a young teenager. When they tried to date the scale to establish its age, they found to their surprise that they couldn’t. They tried all available dating technology, such as carbon dating and radiometric dating and even some beta-versions of state of the art nanotechnology. In late march 2018 Jurassic Bob received a call from the team of specialist scientists who were working out how to date the scale. ‘Bob’, they said, ‘Sit down. We think we have solved the problem, but you are not going to believe this.’ Bob sat down and took a sip of his coffee. He figured he had heard his share of unbelievable facts and could probably do with one more. ‘Bob,’ the dating professor told him, ‘we believe the scale has to be dated from no other period but the future. We think it originates some million years from now. We have tried to distract some DNA samples from the fossil. From what we can tell of these little DNA fragments, we believe that we might conclude that this animal is most likely some kind of canine. A breed of dog that is yet to come into existence.’

Making a Mold#

First I sketched a scale with pencil. Then I sketched the same in Illustrator. I opened Meshmixer and started sculpting on a default object (sphere) until I had the shape I wanted. I found some nice features to tweak the shape, but it still needs a lot of practice before I can really make a detailed shape (for instance of a dog with scales from the future). In Meshmixer I placed the scale-shape on a square so that I had a more firm underground for the mold. I exported the file as .stl and used this to mill the scale mold with the milling machine. For this I used a piece of insolation foam.

To learn Rhino I find this very nice introductionary video tutorial with Mary Fugler.

Making a Composite#

I wrapped the mold in ordinary kitchen foil because the foam would probably loose its shape when it got wet. I had no sealer or coating, else I could have used this instead. Also I had no vacuum bag or vacuum table to use. So the composite had to dry overnight on the mold, unless I used a blow-dryer. I greased the foil with vaseline. I cooked up a batch of bio resin and tried carefully to brush layers on several layers of fabric. Turned out the mold was too small to take roughly cutout pieces of fabric. Also I used synthetic materials that melted when I wanted to blow-dry them. (Resulting in some rather interesting failures.) When I lasercut some cotton fabrics to exactly fit over the mold, it was easier to make composites. I tried different glues (white glue and natural dextrin-based glue) and different variations, like having one, two or three layers, drying them on the mold and drying them flattened under a very thick and heavy book. I made a composite by melting thin sheets of synthetic plastic between fabrics with a hot iron – this composite is firm and holds its shape, but it is also still flexible. I even tried quilting. For this I used a super thick filling. This quilted ‘scale’ also became very firm, so I suppose I could use this as a ‘building block’ or ‘scaffold’ for something steady. Very good documentation on how to make composites was made by previous Fabricademy-participants.

Some pretty failures.

Lasercutter to the rescue.

Further investigations. Iteration with quilting, using a very thick layer of filling (above), iterations with one, two and three layers using natural glue (below).

References and Inspiration#

Listen to this beautiful podcast on ‘Jurassic Art’.

Making a Crystal#

A crystal can be made at home. In 2014 the Royal Society of Chemistry even held ‘a global experiment’ for growing crystals at home. Crystallization is a method of solidifying fabric and giving it a beautiful look. For this you must make a fully saturated solution of sugar, salt, alum, Epsom salt (bitterzout) or any other crystalized substance you would like to use. To fully saturate the water it is best to boil it and stir until the crystals no longer dissolve. Pour the solution in a pot and hang a fabric in it (or a piece of yarn). Make sure the fabric or yarn does not touch the bottom or the side. Leave to ripe. Within an hour or after a few weeks you will have beautiful crystals! You can even grow crystals on e-textiles.

Above left: coton pompon to be dipped in saturated alum solution. Below left: the same now covered in alum crystals coloured with red food dye. Right: crystals from the materials archive in the TextileLab.

An unexpected beauty: I dipped a knitted fabric in some epsomsalt solution with green food dye, left in a petridish to dry. There were no crystals on top but there were some on the bottom. Almost like the fabric is frozen solid.

Step by Step Manual for the Milling Machine @ Waag#

As explained by Henk and Wendy and noted down by me, Teresa (disclaimer: maybe with some misunderstandings, so always ask for assistence from a pro)

Settings and points of interest are shown in this slideshow.

The Machine#


The Software#

The Hardware#

Note to self#

Image: John Conway.

Download Files Here#

Files for milling