Fiberglass. Fiberglass is fiber made
from spun glass. Often, old car windshields are used to make the
fiber. Fiberglass is the material that boat bodies, surfboards,
and some car bodies are made from. Typically, the material is used
in conjunction with polyester resin and a mold of some sort. Fiberglass
comes in the form of mat, cloth, or continuous roving.
I use fiberglass continuous roving. This
is a cluster of continuous strands of fiberglass. It comes in a
large very dense spool that is 10” high and 12” wide.
I crochet the fiberglass dry, right off the spool.
I use a standard 6mm, US J-10, crochet hook.
I create the crocheted cloth. The story
tells me what format to crochet. Whether to make a doily circle,
a rectangle, or tube. Only one or several. One all-over pattern
or a patchwork of all-over patterns. Should I use the traditional
border patterns or individual doily patters. Will they be sewn together
or hung separately. I use The Harmony
Guide to Crocheting Techniques and Stitches. I flip through
it over and over until I can relate a pattern or series of patterns
to the specific identity dialogue.
Polyester resin. Polyester resin is
a liquid plastic. I use a Hard Finish Resin also called Surfboard
Resin. This resin contains 5% wax. As the resin cures, the wax settles
on the surface. This wax gives the surface a hard surface that is
smooth to the touch. It also eliminates the perpetual resin smell
and tacky surface of regular laminating resin. I use 8 ounces at
a time so that I can control it.
- I pour out 8 ounces of resin into a mixing cup.
- If I add dye to the resin to add color, I do so
- I add the chemical hardener and mix it up.
- I have approximately 25 minutes to work with this
prepared resin batch. I apply the mixed resin to a portion of
the crocheted fiberglass cloth with a 2” brush, work it
in well, and gently squeeze out the excess. The fiberglass turns
translucent immediately. It clings to itself, stretches endlessly
if pulled, puddles, loses all form. It’s just a wet mess,
a wet lump of stuff. During the 25 or so minutes, I need to apply
the resin, take out the excess, and find a way to support the
wet part of the fiberglass in the form that I need it to retain,
making sure that I don’t end up with stretch darts if they
are not a part of the form. I use gravity to create the form.
If I place the wet crocheted fiberglass on a surface or some sort
of mold, the stitches flatten and the roving cures as jagged flats
instead of beautiful clean rods.
- After that initial 25 or so minutes, the resin
begins to set. Sort of like Jello sets, in that it no longer moves.
The form is set. But, if taken off its support mechanism, the
form would collapse.
- In 24 hours, the fiberglass is hard and translucent.
The overall form is affected by the sequence of the resin application.
I have to apply the resin small amounts at a time because the initial
set time is so fast. This is a good thing. It allows for more creativity
within the overall form. When wet with resin, the crocheted fiberglass
stretches. When dry, it does not. The fiberglass itself does not
stretch. It is that the crocheted cloth is a cloth made from hundreds
of small complex knots. It is the weight of the liquid that stretches
open the knots. So, if the wet is in the center of a dry area or
along an edge, it will end up in a completely different shape when
it finally stops stretching. This single aspect of the material
allows the form to do its material thing, which I cannot control.
I can try to predict and thereby direct, but it always does something
unexpected. I welcome this runaway behavior because it saves me
from making predictable moves. The material is inherently much more
creative and clever then I am. It is the equal partnership of our
two voices, mine and the material’s, that produces successful,
interesting, readable new forms. It is in this
resin stage that the form is found.
Sanding. After all of the fiberglass
has been formed in resin and has hardened for at least 24 hours,
I have to sand it. It does not come out clean. Fiberglass splinters
stick out all over and the edges are mucked up with excess resin.
With a fine grit sandpaper made for fiberglass sanding, I take down
all spiky stuff from the inside areas using a large sheet, which
goes pretty fast. Then, I cut small squares of the sandpaper and
hand sand all of the edges. This has an effect of focusing the form