Reflection on Plaster

By Bianca Polak

6 November 2006

Plaster was a new material for most of us to work with, it was for me. I enjoyed the feeling of it when mixing it with my hands. Initially I couldn’t really gauge very well how thick to make the mixture. For the initial paper, it was a bit thick and this caused it to be hard to drip of the tile (Figure 1). The next mixture I made a bit thinner and poured it on the tile. From the tile I poured it on the paper (see Figure 2) and big chunks of the initial plaster came off together with the new mixture. This was accidental but created an interesting 3D effect.

Figure 1 – First try, the plaster was a bit too thick and hard to drip off


 Figure  2 – Added some new plaster on the tile, chunks of the older dried up plaster came off, giving it a special 3D effect.


After the initial trials were more or less accidental and not consciously created I tried to create a more conscious pattern for the third paper. I used the sides of the tile to make line patterns and experimented with pressing harder and softer on the paper to create different thicknesses of the lines.


Figure  3 – Tried to make a conscious pattern with the side of the tile


Figure  4 – Last one, using the sides and corners of the tile, making circular patterns on the paper

For the last paper, I used the sides and corners of the tile, making circular patterns on the paper and again using a technique of pressing harder and softer and sometimes waiting a while at one spot to let more of the plaster drip on the paper.

For the final work, to make a relief on the tile itself with the plaster, I created a plaster mixture that was a bit thicker, so it was easier to mould the way it looked on the tile. While I was just playing with the plaster, it started to look like a Chinese painting of tree branch, and after I saw that appearing I consciously worked further on that theme.



Figure  5 – A 3D pattern on the tile, purposely made the plaster thicker and splashed onto the tile


The discussion we had afterwards reflecting on the questions:

1)     How do you know in what ways to use the material?

2)      How do you know when to stop? When is your artwork completed?

In what ways to use the material was a matter of trial and error and although we were new to using this material, I was not unfamiliar with it. We knew that after mixing it with water it would be fluid and when dried up it would become hard. Furthermore we were given a tool to use it and a short demo on how to use this. Initially I tried using the way it was demonstrated, letting it drip from the corner of the tile, but later I tried other ways.

For the second question, I felt Ruth’s remark that “it’s a mix between thinking and emotions, that when you feel you have told the story that you want to tell, that’s when you stop” best reflected how this process works. Although in this activity, especially in the first two artworks for me it was merely trying out and getting familiar with the material than trying to “tell a story”.