Monday, November 16, 2009

Shannon Slane: Eureka!

When I first designed my 3 dimensional repeat pattern for my Digital Sculpture Application class at SCAD, and had it cnc printed, I knew that the way I was going to make multiples was to vacuum form a material over it several times. I then wanted to make a large piece of wall art out of my many pieces.

But how to color them? Should I? What kind of material should I use? I assumed that I would work with some kind of acrylic plastic, as this is the most common material used in the vacuum forming process, at least in the Industrial Design Department here at SCAD. I've done research into the different kinds of plastic available, and no quality of a single one stuck me as entirely right for this project. Nothing stood out in any way. Additionally, to cover a wall with acrylic would be entirely too expensive for me at this point in my artistic life.

Feeling somewhat discouraged, I headed to the Home Depot anyhow, thinking I could purchase a thin acrylic sheet of plastic, make a decently sized piece and spray it with a flocking gun, or just simple spray paint it. St some point the thought of doing a Pollock- esque action painting over it seemed as if it might be the answer, but clearly I was slightly losing my mind in the scramble for a solution.

Then I ran into some colleges who were working on a project for another class. One of them mentioned that you can vacuum form craft foam.

I made a mad dash to Michael's, and bought a large sheet of white, and every piece of royal blue craft foam they had to sell (only 36 in all, but the end product is larger than I had anticipated I could afford out of acrylic).
Once in Gulfstream, I tested the vacuum forming process with the white foam and a scrap piece of pink foam, and WOW! Every minute detail was picked up, and when you smash the material it remembers it's form and springs back to life! This discovery sold me on the material, and I began working on my piece.

As you can see, the material works beautifully on the pattern I created. The process is easy, you simply peal the foam off your finished product and reset it to vacuum form again. No agonizing about acrylic permanently encasing your mold, or splitting it in half during the forming process. Plus, it's cheap! When I do this next, I'm going to order the material in bulk, and get each sheet for 69 cents instead of 99. It would be completely affordable to create a pattern that covered an entire wall - and I'm already thinking about fine art as well as commercial applications. I could sell this to parents who want a fun nursery for their child, but don't want the permanence of paint or a wall sticker, and who would also appreciate having soft cushy walls. This is safe and fun, and the tactile nature of the material is good for a developing brain. As for a fine artapplication, you'll have to follow my blog, wait, and see!

Here are some more pictures of the process:


  1. great post shannon.
    wow!! i'm excited

  2. i have some cool 70's plastic here at boundary.
    free 99....

  3. In it cool what you can do with plastics once you know how

  4. check out the info about wild fishing