Research - Deconstructing canvas - Post 1 / by Ally McGinn

 Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

A material found commonly in painting studios, and a few others. Traditionally associated with painting this material is more than its function. A post concerning the conceptual meaning and ideology of canvas is planned for in the coming weeks, for now....

.....a physical deconstruction of canvas.

 Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

These stages of exploration were undertaken in the paint workshop.

Beginning with a pair of scissors, i had to cut across the weave of the fabric, in small sections, to best ensure the chances of the material separating. 

The resulting pile was run through a blender, a tiny section at a time worked best in this case. 
The blender had to be manipulated and turned on sporadically to allow the material to spread and not gather at the bottom. 

The resulting deconstruction is surprisingly fluffy. I could not remove all threads, so initial tests were done with these still inside. I am currently searching for more effective methods of reducing the fabric. 

 Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

 Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

Some of the deconstructed canvas was placed into the milling machine overnight to see whether the ceramic crushing would help reduce the material further. It was predicted that it would begin to felt the material back together. The above image shows the result. On the far right is the 'lump' that came out of the milling machine in the morning. 

Upon consideration there is a chance that adding less into the milling machine might yield different results. which is something to come back to later as it is unlikely. 

 Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

The next stage was one of my primary interests, attempting to turn canvas into something that can be either painted or sculpted with. 
Initially it was mixed with Alkyd Resin and a small amount of turps, in a pestle and mortar. 

When mixing paint in this way we are looking for the dry element to absorb all the moisture of the medium and then become suspended within it. In this case we achieved a small degree of success but not particularly encouraging that we would make a successful paint. 

 Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

We tried a small section of that mixture with a beeswax/damar resin mix (50:50). 
Using a mulling plate (with a small amount of blue pigment residue on the surface, which is where the colour has come from. Something i personally love) i mixed the paint with a palette knife and time. 
The mix of beeswax/damar to alkyd/canvas did not appear to make a difference at this point, it might when drying. I would predict that it will take longer for the 70/30 mix to dry, given the slow drying qualities of beeswax. 

 Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

Ally McGinn (2017) Studio documentation.

The final mix in this first round of testing was the fibre mixed with stand oil (which is given its name due to the process of leaving it to stand in large trays during production) and a small amount of siccative (for its drying qualities).

This mix is the most promising, in terms of sculpting. I made two batches, one formed into a ball and the other into a cube shaped 'mould' made from greaseproof paper. 

Drying time.....

Im going to be testing a few other ways to reduce the canvas fibres. Putting them in the milling machine was promising, a small amount of dust was produced - which is what we would ideally be looking for. 
The difficulty of this process is its authenticity. Once we get to a certain point with mediums then the material created may be a vehicle that contains canvas, as opposed to the preferred, canvas made into something else. 

I will be continuing my experiments making paint from unwanted 'things'. Begun last year with paint made from studio dust.  Initially i plan to collect dust from the three studio bays at Dartmouth Avenue to examine the differences in colour once processed into paint. 

Bibliography

Nothing this time, other than the research goldmine that is the paint workshop at Bath Spa and its technician, Tim Davies.