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Thinking through making-- Experiment of material exploration and combination

The title Thinking through making is a type of the practice-based research. It is from anthropology professor Ingold’s book. It describes "how learning takes place through a direct, responsive engagement with physical materials." (2003, P2) For example, using wood as a material, a good craftsman requires a practical and physical responsiveness to create a well-crafted object. According to professors of Academy Eindhoven, Bas and Danielle (2015, P1), thinking through making is "an approach to orchestrating innovation between design and anthropology." For me, when I make ceramic works. I need to think outside the traditional means of making, to consider using clay as a sculptural medium. Combining practical making skills and critical discussion.

Ceramic is a fluid and cross-disciplinary material. Each time when I explore ceramic material, I feel that the process of producing artifacts is just a process of communicating with the material from start to the end. And I create new things in the process of understanding and communicating with the material. According to Akito Akagi (2009, P103), a famous Japanese lacquer artist, In the dialogue with the material, the nature of the material will be in the heart. I feel like to be integrated into the natural world through the material.

One of the process of making is material exploration. I usually collect different kinds of materials, and put them in the palm to feel them, I have found that there would be infinite possibilities by making a combination of different materials. There were many natural materials and artificial or processed materials. When I played it, I felt resin, luminous and ceramic are a wonderful combination.

I was also interested in the combination of wood and luminous resin, like pictures above (I am not sure the blue part of picture 3 is resin or not). I think it also can be applied to ceramic.

So, I had many whimsical and naive ideas and drew many sketches before practice. But actually some idea can not put into practice.

After that, I was interested in the luminous material. I tried to design a spherical lamp to imitate the cell structure. I want to use the glimmer of light to show the power of very minute life. My original idea is that the luminous resin absorbs natural light during the day, and then it absorbs energy from lamp bulb after turning on lights, Finally, after turning off the lights, when we sleep, it emits the blue light in the night, which seems as if the cells freely move in the air, the light is moving.

I used casting or molding to build ceramic part, and then hollowed the resin portion. For resin part, after deploying epoxy resin and hardener with the proportion of 3 : 1, I added luminous powder into resin, and then poured the resin evenly into the hollow place. However, I usually use ceramic and I am not familiar with resin. I thought it is same as the combination of wood and luminous resin. When I made resin part, I met some problems. When I poured resin into hollow part, it was very easy to flow down and after wiping the surface looked dirty. The ceramic material is not like the rough wood material which has the high friction. Besides, because the lamp is spherical. It was hard to wait for the drying of resin. Even I poured a spot of epoxy resin and hardener, it spent hours to wait. So still now, I haven't found the solution of it. Usually, the process of turning my design ideas into real products is difficult. Only when I try to explore and understand the material, I would find the so much ideas of sketches are unpractical and unrealistic. Although I failed to make the final work, I got more experience and to be close to reality through touching than seeing.

In my opinion, thinking through making means to balance the sensibility and rationality. In the processes of experiment of material, the inspiration hits me in the head at casual moments and I enjoy designing my works with this casual inspiration very much. Because of it, each of the handcrafts is the unique one.


Tim Ingold (2013) Making Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture

Bas R. & Danielle A. (2015) Thinking Through Making – An approach to orchestrating innovation between design and anthropology From

Akito Akagi (2009) To be beautiful Publisher: Shinchosha

#material #experiment #resin #ceramics

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