Tuesday, 2 January 2018

status update or why nothing is happening ever!

Ok, long time, no writing.

We are now in 2018, and I have tried several things out, but at the moment, I still do not have a corset.
Having two kids takes up pretty much all my time, and thus I have not even had time to write about the small steps I have taken.

So, what has been done?

Living space for the corset
I did write to my local FABLAB to see if I could let my corset grow there, and they were delighted to have me! I told them I'd pop by several times... But never got the time for it.

I would have liked to cut the worbla on their lasercutters while I was there, as I am quite familiar with that process, and have used it before to cut coutil for my corsets. The plan slowly changes into making the corset at home, and then move it to FABLAB when possible, but then I realized I could have it in a clear IKEA box... In December I got giant african land snails as pets, and they are often housed in IKEA boxes, and that gave me the idea. So I have a place for the corset to grow, although it will probably not have time to grow visibly as I had hoped, but only time to be decorated with plants. It will also not be a permanent home for the corset, but as someone suggested on the FR members group on facebook, I could always dismount the plants (aka kill it) and dry up the corset. It doesn't HAVE to stay underwater just because it is build for it.
Facing so many other obstacles, this really is a minor problem, and I'll deal with it when that time comes.

I found a model!
Kitty Mortensen has kindly agreed to being my model, and we managed to make a mockup of the pattern. I then proceeded to heavily embellish it, as I wasn't planning on using it for anything other than getting the pattern for cutting out worbla. That turned out to be a mistake, I later found out...

Finding plants
I have talked to my local petshop, and they have several good plants avaliable. I have also talked to an old friend of mine with a giant aquarium, and he has loads of spare plants that I can get for free. So that is all taken care of! Succes!

Testing worbla
Turns out that worbla is not the dream material I hoped it would be.
One of my main fears, that it could not handle the stress of corsetry, turned out to be very true.  It tears quite easily, and what is even worse, then the 'seams' where two pieces are joined together are not solid at all. Worbla is also quite terrible for freehand moulding, and works much better for draping over a solid body. Thus my first try out turned rather wonky, and disintergrated just from being bended and handled after it cooled down...

It did however work quite well for adsorbing sand on the surface once heated. So that is something I can use for the next level!

I also tested how it bonded to fabric, when heated and pressed together, and that is acceptable enough, that I'll try so make a corset base in fabric, and then bond the worbla to that. Here I could have used the original mockup, but alas, it is now a completel different project of its own.

What's next?
 I have 5 days left of my maternity leave, where I have a few hours a day to myself. So I need to complete the corset in that time.

Therefore I need to:
  1. make a corset base for the worbla layer. I would prefer a synthetic fabric as polyester or nylon, but if I fail to find that I will have to use oldfashioned coutil in cotton. I'll go shopping tomorrow. The corset base will be boned with synthetic whalebone as I have it on hand, and it is waterproof.
  2. drape worbla on the corset base, while the model is wearing it. I think this will be done in two steps: First step is to bond worbla and add sand to the surface. This I will try to do on a dressform stuffed to a somewhat similar shape. Then I'll heat it slightly when the model is to wear it, so it will mold to her shape.
  3. decorate the corset with branches and snail houses I have found.
  4. add plants.

Wish me luck...

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Caddisfly: Thinking it through

Ok, if I am going to pull it trough making an underwater corset, I need to divide the project up into its key problems:

1: What material should I use?
Cotton and other natural fibers are out of the question as they will rot and disintegrate in the water. An alternative could be poluester or other synthetic fibers, but I am uncertain how they will react to prolonged exposure to the UV light necessary for plants to thrive.
So after thinking a lot about it, my best guess for a material for the corset is worbla fine arts.

It is a well known thermoplastic, that is moldable when heated and solid/stiff at cold and normal living room temperature.

  • it can be cut on a lasercutter
  • it is available in black so a discrete color
  • it becomes sticky when heated so I can 'glue' stuff onto it this way, easily decorating the main surface
  • It shouldn't be compromised by UV light 
  • I have never worked with it before
  • it is stiff, so the corset cannot wrap itself around the body as usual
  • I do not know how strong it is, and if it can stand up to the tension of a corset 
 I need to make a lot of sketches to determine how I deal with the stiff material, but otherwise it shouldn't be so bad.

2: How do I decorate it with living underwater plants, so they will thrive and inhabit the corset surface?
In my original throught, I kept thinking of the corset as part of the natural biotope for a caddisfly larvae, and thus the carr near my parents house kept popping up. I had this idea that I might be able to grow it out in the wild, or harvest some plants from there, but as we are entering fall now, the wild danish plants are not going to grow at all. Also, the wild plants would probably also contain more than a few wild bugs, and I kinda have a phobia for touching those. Exposing the model (still not sure if that will be me or another person) to a bug infested corset is not really my idea of nice.

So what is possible then?
I can go to a pet shop and buy some plants meant for indoor aquariums. They will be bug-free and probably more suitable for the aquarium life the corset will live. It will be very different from the wild type plants of my local area, but the closest I can get during this season and with my need for some form of hygiene.

3: Where should the corset grow?
As the corset should be grown under water, I need access to an aquarium of some kind, with a lighting system to keep the plants healthy.
Height it the main issue when it comes to aquariums, as they tend to be wider than tall. I originally envisioned an overbust corset, but that would require at least 60 cm water height, if the water surface should be higher than the top of the corset. With 40 cm water height it should be possible to grow an underbust with the low hips that I prefer.

The FABLAB that I learned to program and lasercut in have just expanded with a greenhouse for a BIO-FABLAB extension. They are just starting up, but maybe they have an extra aquarium I can grow my corset in? I know they will be working with aquaponics, so it should be too far fetched.
 I'll have to talk to them at find out. 

I have found a used 69x42x42cm aquarium with lights for 150 dkk (around 15£ or 22$) but I really have to think about it if I want to invest in that. Having it at home is not an option, so I would at least need to have it at FABLAB.

This is really the make or break point of the project. If I do not have a place for it to grow, then everything else is in vain. Making any actual design plans or enlisting a model makes no sense, unless I have an aquarium.

Friday, 22 September 2017

My FR&YWU competition entry: The Caddisfly corset

This is the first journal entry on my FR&YWU competition corset. I do not have any idea of how this is going to work out, but I guess I'll figure it our on the way.

My idea for an insect themed corset will be based on the caddisfly larvae.  Caddisflies are rather boring winged insects, that in their larvae state lives underwater in fresh water systems, like lakes and streams. The larvaes are soft and very edible for predators, so they produce a portable case for them self, that works as a artificial shell or shield.

The larvaes use whatever material is available to them, and therefor the cases can look very different. I found some lovely pictures of cases made in danish streams on www.vestrehus.dk, and decided to base my corset on them.

My original idea was to make a normal corset, and paint it with fabric paint, and then decorate it with lots of pearls, stones and lasercut leaves. This would work wonderfully, as the colors and textures of the caddisfly larvae cases are a perfect match on my cores esthetics, and the corset could be used for the new visual identity for my blog and facebook page.

However, during the live talk for the FR&YWU members, Lowana helped explain, that the whole point of the contest was to push your own boundaries. And honestly, painting and decoration a corset is not new to me, so the idea I had was a little too tame...
Then Lowana explained, that in order to do something that would really push my boundaries, I would have to search for something that scared me. Like 'I don't know if I can even do this' scare. And then I thought about doing a water tolerant corset, with synthetic whalebone and the like. I mean, I have never worked with that before, right? Making a corset that can tolerate to become wet frequently would be a challenge. But then a small voice started to nag at me...

What if the corset is not supposed to leave the water at all?
What if it is like the larvae, a water dweller?

I tried to ignore the voice, as this was not possible. I mean, coutil is cottonbased and will not survive long exposure to water. Especially as the image forming in my head had actual live plants in it, and bugs and critters and eeeewww. (I have a rather big love for freshwater ecosystems like fens, carrs, ponds and lakes. I also have just as large fear of actually touching anything living in those lovely places. I guess it comes from living right next to a lake filled with mosquitos and leeches, in a country where we do not have any actual dangerous animals...)

But then. Fear is the whole point here, isn't it?
Fear is the guiding light that is to show me a new way.

So I guess I will make a waterdwelling corset like the caddisfly larvae. And it will look like the cases the larvaes build.

Oh shit.