MSA Campus closure and the road ahead for 2020

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It’s been a strange few weeks.

You should by now by fully aware that we have shifted to remote teaching across MSA including all in-workshop activities from B.15. This has and continues to present new challenges for us all but the school is fully committed to ensuring your degrees are delivered this year as planned.

Due to an IT issue during the huge remote switch-over that has occurred here we have only just been able to access our blog page meaning these updates are a bit later than planned. Anyway, here goes…

Modelmaking From Home

If you cast your mind back to your induction with us one of the key messages has always been to equip yourselves for every eventuality when it comes to modelmaking and this instance demonstrates why that point is so important. Many of you have already expressed disappointment that you may not be able to complete ‘presentation’ models of your projects because you cant access the workshop. This is simply not true.

Modelmaking is a tool for exploration and not exclusively tied to the workshop environment and we strongly believe that you can achieve great results through exploration without the need for great expense or constant workshop access. We can all adapt and we’re here to help you do so.

A presentation model is a representation of your finished idea that is resolved or at least a snapshot of your design work to that date. This doesn’t limit itself to any particular machine, tool or material but takes its ‘presentation’ status from the quality of the design that it portrays and the consideration for the way it is put together. Be resourceful and don’t limit yourself to machines or a single medium as a means of getting your ideas across. Your hand making skills can be just as effective. Be patient and experiment with different soft modelling materials you may have. observe how they work or don’t work to your advantage and present your findings as they are. Mistakes are just steps towards more resolved pieces and should be embraced as being absolutely necessary.

Tutorials to help with Modelmaking from Home

Over the last week and a half we have been running remote tutorials for anyone wanting to produce models from home. These have covered anything to do with this field in terms of theory, technical questions, tools/materials questions and recommendations and general concerns that quite naturally, many of you have.

Thank you to everyone who’s signed up and shared their ideas with us. It’s encouraging to see that you’re willing to adapt to the situation and see what we can come up with.

If you would like to speak with us about any ideas you have or how you might adapt your original plans please get in touch via email or using the Moodle form which can be found on this post on the main announcements page (you need to be logged into Moodle: https://moodle.mmu.ac.uk/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=502741

Getting tools/Supplies

A number of you were able to get orders in with 4D before they closed which should be with you in the next week, possibly a little longer internationally depending on the different postal services.

For those who might need tools or materials in the UK Emily Crompton has confirmed that it is still possible to order from Fred Aldous for delivery and that there is a 20% MSA Student Discount. For the discount code please get in touch with us or ask during your tutorials.


In Other News……

Atelier La Juntana Summer School 2020 Cancelled

For obvious reasons this years International summer school in Northern Spain is now cancelled. We will review the situation in the new academic year with regards any future collaborations with the school. If you had applied and paid any deposits for the course should should have been contacted about a refund. If not then please get in touch with the organisers to make sure you get your deposits back.

B.15:50 events

Before the enforced lockdown we had a number of planned events that would have taken us up to the end of this academic year. Again these have been cancelled for now but we hope to reschedule all events once things are back to a level of normaility.

In the meantime we hope to put out the video footage of our guest lecture from Simona Valeriani of the V&A. Keep an eye out for that.

Annual Modelmaking Awards

We were due to announce plans for this years awards last week but have decided to rethink how these will take place given the change in situation. We will be making an announcement about this in the near future.


There is a lot of uncertainty about the coming months but the main thing is for you to look after yourselves. We’re here if you need any advice and look forward to hearing about your ideas.

Keep making and we’ll be in touch soon,

Jim, Scott & Saul

A visit to la Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Universidad Central del Ecuador, Quito – Patricia Belcin

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During December 2019 I visited la Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo (the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism) part of Universidad Central del Ecuador, in the country’s capital, Quito. At 2980m altitude, the beautifully designed brutalist building of the faculty felt like a hidden gem among the other buildings from the university campus, the semi-circular repetitive roof structures transmitted an equilibrium very fitting for a place dedicate to design and architectural education.

While talking to a first year architecture student I understood that in the early stages a big emphasis is put on developing hand drawing skills and the designs are tested through simple hand crafted models. I was impressed of the amount of models the students were producing, and how they were finding enough time to invest in this as the course content was broader than what I had experienced during my Part 1 in the UK.

The main reasons for this were the materials and methods being used. After observing only a few models I noticed that balsa wood is everyone’s favourite material. This soft fibre wood allowed the students to quickly craft sketch models, quick prototypes and many times it was used even for the final presentation models. The ease with which this material can be manipulated allowed the students to recreate the workshop environment in their homes and with only a scalpel and some glue they were constructing a wide variety of models. Sometimes for the final exhibition models the faculty’s laser cutter was used for achieving more precise cuts on fine details.

It’s no accident that balsa is used so extensively as it is a locally grown material which is widely available at a very low price (I noted it was approximately 10% of the price at which we purchase balsa in the UK). Balsa is a native species to Ecuador and the country is the world’s leader in balsa production, with over 90% of the wood being exported all over the world. Because of the county’s altitude, climate and environment, the balsa from the Ecuadorian forests is privileged as it offers a more stable wood in terms of density. Balsa is not an endangered species due to its fast growth and facility of reproduction.

(Information about balsa production: www.euronewsa.com/balsa.html)

This made me reflect upon how we sourced materials during the projects which I undertook at MSA. Few projects asked us to consider the usage of local materials, and when we do consider it, this is mostly seen as a constraint. However, not very often do the students question from their own initiative the provenience of the materials which they use, especially in a world where everything is available at a few clicks away. From my observations gathered whilst visiting the architecture school in Quito, I noticed that the use of local materials is widening the possibilities in terms of modelmaking and construction. By using these materials so often the students developed skills which allowed them to create a wide variety of models by understanding the different properties of the wood.

While visiting an exhibition with projects from the masters of architecture course I noticed several models which used plaster or plywood, therefore being more developed in terms of material complexity, but the combination with the balsa wood was omnipresent. In the project from the below images, the student used a series of volumetric plaster models which were combined with red painted key elements of the design. The red colour was then used in the sectional model of the final design and within the architectural drawings as a highlighting method.

Apart from testing design concepts through models I noticed the importance of the technical side within their architecture degree. An application through modelmaking was the project visible in the images from below, where groups of students tested different types of joints which could be used in creating a geometrical sphere. Several methods of joining the wooden pieces were tested, including connections that used sections of recycled plastic pipes or tubes, as well as using bespoke metal fixings which were screwed into the wood. Regardless of the complexity, these constructions were built with only using basic tools and local materials.

Being exposed to the modelmaking culture of the architecture school in Quito was a good lesson about the importance of valuing local practices and materials and making the most of what resources  you have to hand. Perhaps the ease with which we can access materials produced all over the world here in the UK makes us, unintentionally, a bit ignorant of the energy and effort it takes to produce them. As a result the profession is quite wasteful. It would be an interesting project set out to find the local equivalent of the balsa wood source in Ecuador right here and incorporate it into our models. This would be both convenient and more sustainable, helping to reduce our carbon footprint as we progress through architecture school.


This article was written by Patricia Belcin, Teaching Assistant at B.15 Modelmaking workshop 2019/20. 

Modelmaking above Alexanderplatz – Peter Lee at HENN Architects, Berlin

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Earlier this summer I visited MSA Graduate Peter Lee at HENN Architects Berlin Office. Located overlooking Alexanderplatz, HENN is an international architecture office with additional offices in Munich and Beijing. They have a wide-ranging experience in work space, culture, health, education and research as well as production and master planning. It’s a great pleasure to see graduates take their modelmaking skills into practice. Where possible I always try to take the opportunities to learn just how these skills are used in their work and this has been one such occasion. Peter has been kind enough to discuss his experience over the last 3 years in practice since graduating from MSA.


After graduating from my masters in 2016 I wanted a bit of a change from Manchester so started applying for jobs in cities that I wanted to live in, mostly abroad, and HENN was the first place that got back to me. The job description was particularly interesting in that it was a mostly model making role within the design / competition team, which suited my skill set pretty well.

On a day to day basis I produce a lot of sketch models, mostly for internal use which really helps with making design decisions. Because of the fast pace of competitions (they generally last a month or two), people are often jumping between projects. Having a model in front of you is a much easier way of understanding site conditions, massings and contextual relationships than working purely with software because it has this tangible quality. 

The workshop has a laser cutter, spray booth, hot wire cutters, disc sander, sandblasting cabinet and Ultimaker S5 3D Printer. Mostly we work with foam, card and acrylic – occasionally we get things outsourced or made in the HENN Munich office, which has more machines available for woodwork.

In terms of setup it’s a lot more restricted than what the students have access to at B.15 which is mainly due to spatial constraints. The office is located in a 70s East Berlin tower and there isn’t enough space for more equipment -however, it’s more than sufficient for producing competition / presentation models. It also serves a different purpose as a workshop for a commercial practice – B.15 is more about giving students the opportunity to learn and therefore supports a wider variety of techniques and materials that aren’t necessarily appropriate or efficient for me to use.

Most of my time is spent on massing and context models but it really depends on what is important to the project – it could also be façade models, mock-ups of internal spaces, more conceptual pieces etc.

Around two years ago I produced a sketch model for an office tower competition in Hamburg which we went on to win. The massing was derived by cutting out foam slabs and arranging them to generate a stepping double height void moving up the lower part of the building. When placed in the context model and compared with other designs it was clear that it was the right way forward – while it was more conservative than some options it fulfilled all the masterplan requirements while retaining an interesting spatial logic.

The competition was also a different format from usual in that we had a lot of contact with the client / developer during the design process. People always love it when you turn up with a model, especially if it’s not required – in this case we brought a lot of sketch models which gave an insight into the design process that the client wouldn’t normally see. It’s also more interesting to have something more tactile in front of you instead of being sat in front of slides and slides of presentation, which definitely worked in our favour.

Leading practices at the moment like Morris and Co, Carmody Groarke are really pushing the use of models as an important design tool and it would be good to see that trickle down into the majority of practices. I have had two architectural jobs before this one – the only time models were around was for presentations and they were always built by a specialist model maker. Software is all well and good but I feel you can always make better design decisions if you have a physical representation in front of you.

If I could change anything about my work on a personal level it would be to be a bit more poetic with my model making through abstract / conceptual models and material explorations – most of what I do at the moment is pretty representational. Having said that, I really enjoy my job here. It can be long hours from time to time but it often feels like an extension of architecture school due to the quick nature of competitions and room to experiment. It’s also good to see models being used as a design tool and being able to use my skills to collaborate with other specialists, such as computational designers.


Thank you to HENN for allowing us to share this insight and to Peter for his thoughts, time and continued enthusiasm towards the work we do here in B.15.

– Scott

Peter at work in on his MArch final major project B.15 Workshop in May 2016

Exhibition: ‘Sun, Sea and Modelmaking – Atelier La Juntana 2019’ November 18th-29th

We’re pleased to announce the second event in conjunction with our 50th Anniversary celebrations:

An exhibition of student work from the third MSA exclusive week with Atelier La Juntana which took place in July 2019. The exhibition has been curated by Saul Parker-Backhouse at B.15 Modelmaking workshop and will present the full range of craft outputs from the week-long course along with video and process descriptions.

Launch Presentation Evening – Thursday November 28th from 18.00

Join us for a presentation by ALJ course organiser Armor Gutierrez Rivas who will be presenting the course and discussing how MSA students can take part in next years course.

The exhibition will take place in the foyer of Humanities Bridgeford Street Building between November 18th and 29th and both the presentation evening and exhibition are free to attend.

B.15:50 -Guest Lecture ‘Architectural Models: Past Present and Future of a Design Practice’

**********************CHANGE OF TIME AND VENUE*********************

NOW AT 18:00 IN THE CORDINGLEY LECTURE THEATRE, HUMANITIES BRIDGEFORD STREET BUILDING

****************************************************************************************************

2020 will mark 50 years since the B.15 workshop was established here in what was then known as the Kantorowich Architecture and Planning Building. To celebrate the occasion we will be holding a number of events the first of which we are pleased to present to you here.

 

‘Architectural Models: Past Present and Future of a Design Practice’ will be presented by Dr Simona Valeriani on behalf of the Architectural Models Network, a research network based at the Victoria and Albert Museum. “The network was set up to bring together all those interested in the history, current practice and future of architectural model-making. Its intention is to share knowledge, to take stock of the current state of the field, and to identify productive areas for future practice and research.” (Valeriani, 2018)

Dr Valeriani will present the up to date findings of the network which began recording a range of perspectives on architectural modelmaking in early 2018.

Please join us for this free lecture at 18.00 on Tuesday 12th November in the Cordingley Lecture Theatre on the ground floor of Humanities Bridgeford Street. 

The presentation and Q & A will last no longer than 1 hour. No ticket required.

We hope to see you there, Scott, Jim & Saul

Valeriani, S. 2018. Architectural Models in context: creativity, skill and spectacle [Online Article] Available from: https://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/projects/architectural-models-in-context-creativity-skill-and-spectacle Accessed 22/10/2019

Welcome back to 2019/20 at B.15!

Welcome back to a new academic year at B.15 new starters and returning students.

We’ve made a few changes over the summer to our user rules which we will be rolling out to all newly inducted students this year. For those of you returning you’ll get used to the changes as you get on with your projects over the coming months.

Upcoming Induction Closure Dates

BA Inductions – Tuesday 17th & Wednesday 18th September

MArch Inductions – Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th September

**** UPDATES****

****The workshop will be closed on Wednesday October 2nd.

**** MArch Catch-Up induction will take place on the morning of 7th October.

**** BA Q & A session will take place on the morning of 9th October.

**** BA Catch-Up Inductions will take place on the morning of 10th October.

**** MA Architecture and Urbanism Inductions will take place on the morning of 25th October

For the initial days a rep from 4D Modelshop will be set up in our ARCHITYPES exhibition (1st floor HBS building) to present their latest products and answer any questions you may have. There will also be a period of free delivery to B.15 if you wish to buy and tools or materials from them.

Induction catch-up dates will be posted when confirmed but please attend your allotted session to avoid as much disruption to the general workshop access over the next few weeks.

Whats new?

As many of you know we are usually running around trying to manage work space within the workshop at peak times. The rules for 20 students at once remains the same as before. We believe that the best way we can improve this experience for all users is for each of you to carefully consider how you are using modelmaking in your design work. Please take to time to read through our General Users Guide (updated for this year) to familiarise yourself with the general rules and regulations here to get the most out of your time.

With the new MMU School of Digital Arts under construction the most direct route between Chatham and us in Humanities is currently blocked. For those unfamiliar with the main MSA locations refer to this map to see the main alternative route

Standard Operating Procedures

Around the workshop you’ll now find Standard Operating Procedures for all machines which give an over view to what you should and shouldn’t do when using them. These guides are as a reminder only and do not substitute an individual induction which is mandatory for all students coming to work at the workshop. As always, please ask us before starting or if you are unsure about anything in the workshop. The SOP’s follow a standard format and look like this:

New Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) gauges 

When using any of the sanders or band saws you must now make sure you open the LEV dampers and that the dust extraction is within the approved range on the localised air flow gauge. Each gauge shows a green range which is the approved air flow range to ensure as much of the dust produced during machine use is carried away from you, the user, as possible. We’ll show you how these work in person but be aware that if you want to use these machines you will be expected to check this is functioning within range before commencing your job.

B.15 Going Green

 

As you may have read with increasingly regularity, there is a pressing need for all of us to change our consuming habits to ensure the best state of our future environment. Our existence as a modelmaking workshop makes this particularly challenging to combat due to the number of different materials and choices we make when using different products. We will be making a conscious effort to police misuse of materials and ensure as much of our waste is recycled as possible.

We have introduced a new supplier for our acrylic stocks which allow us to stock ‘GreenCast’ 100% recycled acrylic. As we run down our older stocks we will move towards only stocking this product from now onward. In addition to this we now have a recycling bin for acrylic scraps that are of no further use. This will be periodically sent off for recycling.

 

Many of you have become accustomed to using spirit wood dyes in the workshop which offer a range of colours that have proved very popular over the last few years. These dyes, being spirit based, aren’t particularly environmentally friendly so going forward we will be moving to stock palette water based dyes instead which offer the same range of colours without the environmental risks.

B.15:50

2020 marks 50 years since the workshop came into being and to mark this landmark anniversary we will be holding a number of events throughout the year which we hope to reveal in the near future.

We hope you’ll get involved to celebrate with us throughout the year!

See you soon,

Jim, Scott & Saul

Atelier La Juntana 2019 Diary – Saul Parker-Backhouse

Not long after starting my role here I was asked if I would attend this years modelmaking summer school with a group of MSA students. I was very happy to accept and experience the course first hand having heard about it from previous students and my colleagues here at B.15. As part of the trip I noted our daily tasks for others to gain insight into the experience which are recounted here.

First process of day one- Ceramics

On our first morning in Liencres we were introduced to Armor, Nertos, Daniel, Yerba the dog and the rest of our class for the week. We were then taken on a tour of the workshop and site. Armor then gave a short lecture which showcased some of the workshop produce, explaining a little about the reasoning for the course and its future applications.

To begin, a short demonstration was given in which we were shown how to create a master tile with which the aim was to create a number of copies. We were given a number of different materials to work with, with the one exception being that the tile be made to the shape of a pre-cut template. The outcome of this would be a mosaic created from the whole group’s tiles, as we were all encouraged to choose a different shape. We began to work on our designs using Rollers, Clay thickness forms, Carving tools, Sponges and Clay smoothing tools.

Creating the plaster mould

Once we were happy with our master tile we were instructed to stick them down to an MDF base using a small amount of clay, ensuring the base of the tile was very flat to the MDF plate. A sectional wooden box was then placed around the tile, which we then sealed with clay ensuring it was water tight. Daniel then took each of our boxes outside where he submerged the tile with liquid plaster, leaving them to dry in the Spanish sunshine.

After a delicious international lunch (very nice) and a mug of Vermut we returned to our mouldings in which the plaster had now cured. We deconstructed the wooden boxes and removed the plaster block containing our master tile, carefully removing the form from the underside and eventually revealing the negative in the base of the block.

Using dry sponges we carefully cleaned the plaster negative, then chamfering the edges of the plaster block to reduce the chance of breakages.

Making multiple tiles

Another short demonstration was then given, again by Master Daniel, on how to press clay into our plaster blocks to create copies of our original tile. This involved pressing clay of various colour (terracotta, black and white) into our negatives using hammers and short blunt posts, a little like truncheons. It was important to ensure that clay reaches every part of the mould, as this would guarantee a complete tile was removed.

The excess clay was then skimmed from the base of the mould using a wire and any imperfections in the base of the tile were then corrected. The tile was then coaxed from the mould with a mallet and laid onto an MDF board. We repeated this process as many times as we could within the time limit and laid all of our tiles on the wall outside to begin drying, turning them every 30-40 minutes to prevent bowing .

Time for the beach!

Day two in the workshop – Creating a tower

As with the previous morning, we were given a short lecture outlining the days’ tasks, today’s being to create a master tower from wood with the aim of casting multiple copies (similar to yesterday’s task in some aspects). The lecture contained images of previous towers, some ideas that may work well and others that may not. Armor then explained the limitations of each casting materiel and their possible uses in future application.

Going into the workshop we were each given a block of wood from which to work with. This was either a dowel of 50x1000mm or a rectangular block of 400x450x1000mm. We had access to a number of different pieces of equipment with which to create our wooden forms, some of these were: Bandsaw, Disk sander, Angle grinder, Lathe, Hand held woodworking tools and a Laser cutter.

Using these tools we set about creating our forms within the remit of the brief. An instruction was given to sand the pieces to a standard high enough that there would be as little texture imprinted on the inside of the silicone mould, also reducing the need for further sanding of the reproductions.

The final step before lunch was to coat the forms in a release agent, in this case we used Vaseline.

Pouring a silicone mould

The first task of the afternoon was fixing our towers to an MDF base using a screw. Similarly to yesterday, we placed a sectional wooden box around the tower and sealed at the base with clay. The towers were then submerged in silicone and the moulds agitated to remove any air that may have been trapped during the pouring process.  It is important not to over agitate the mould as this will cause horrendous haemophilia like leaks, as I unfortunately found out. We then left our moulds to cure for approximately 24 hours.

Back to the tiles

Having sat in the sun for the best part of a day, the tiles were now dry enough to work into. We used a selection of different carving tools to remove excess material from the underside of our tiles, with the intention that they would dry evenly and quickly with a more consistent thickness.

Next came the task of finishing the tiles. Using a mixture of fine abrasive sponges, steel wool and sand paper, we began smoothing the surface of the tiles, aiming for a level of consistency. Returning them to the wall for a final drying, we now placed the tiles with their bases facing upward, again with the intention of even drying.

Time for the beach again!

Day three in the workshop – Etching and de-moulding

Now familiar with the daily learning routine, we started the morning with another presentation. This particular morning’s was a little longer than the previous, due to the amount of explanation needed. Today’s exercise was to prepare two zinc plates, with which the aim was to create two styles of etchings. One of these being a Photo-etch and the other being a Hard-ground etch.

To prepare both of our plates we first began by sanding the surface to a matte, but not scratched finish. It is important to ensure that the whole of the surface has been sanded, as this will enable the additive being applied to the face to adhere properly.

The grits of the sand paper we worked through were as follows: 400,800 and then 1200 grit, keeping the plate wet at all times.

Hard-ground etching plate

The plate being used for the hard ground etching was then cleaned, backed with alcohol based dye and left to dry. Once dry, each of us took our hard ground plates to a table where we were instructed to coat the opposite face in a solution made from a concoction chemicals, notably turpentine, bees wax and gum rosin. (Highly flammable so take care)

Once this coating was applied, it was then set alight by Daniel using a blow torch. When the flames had subsided and the plates were cool enough to handle, we were encouraged to begin sketching some ideas that we could possibly use in our etching.

Photo-etching plate

We returned to our remaining sanded face of zinc, but this time applied a small amount of polishing compound which we worked into the surface using a cloth. Having suitably buffed, we then gave the plates a final rinse and dry.

The plates were now backed like the previous, however this time with brown tape and then we prepared to apply the photo sensitive emulsion to the reverse side. This application was performed in a dark room using a rubber paint roller, ensuring even coverage over the plate. The plates were then dried using a heat gun.

De-moulding of the towers

With the silicone surrounding our towers now finally cured and mine no longer leaking everywhere, we were instructed to begin the de-moulding process.

Beginning by removing the clay from the base of the segmented boxes, we then removed any pieces of excess silicone that may have leaked from the base (a lot of this in my case). This was followed by the removal of the box. A small screw was then inserted into the area of the tower that was protruding from the silicone, depending on the complexity of the form. This meant a pair of grips were able to be used to grip the screw and assist in removing the tower from the mould.

With the towers removed, we each cleaned the inside of our moulds ready for the first casting exercise using epoxy resin. There were choices between either solid colours of resin, or to add a small amount of alcohol based dye to create a sort of bleeding effect of colour through a clear cast.

The resin was mixed outside and each of us chose our preferred effect, the liquid epoxy was then poured and the same agitation process was applied to remove any lingering air pockets.

Day four in the workshop – Etching and casting continued

This particular morning’s lecture outlined a couple of things. First, we were informed of a task for later in the week in which we would be designing a screen for printing T-shirts. The process is ultimately the same as that of the photo-etching, with the difference being that instead of using a zinc plate a silk screen is used. These designs were to be created in teams of four or three.

Secondly, we were informed of how we were to develop and eventually acid etch our zinc plates. This was a fairly complicated process and involved using a number of potentially harmful chemicals, thus we all had to listen carefully to our instructions.

Photo-etching

To begin the mornings work, we took our now fully hardened photo etching plates and laid them over a piece of acetate. These pieces of acetate were printed with an individual section of the Nolli map of Barcelona, the goal of this being that each of us would have a different section of the map and that a collective print could be later made.

This zinc acetate sandwich was then placed into a machine which I can only describe as a mixture between a vacuum former and a sunbed. The purpose of this machine was to remove any air between the acetate and the zinc, whilst also applying a dose of UV light through the remaining clear areas on the film. This would mean that the areas exposed to the light would be photo developed and that everything starved of light would not.

Our plates were exposed to the light for 3 minutes, at which point we removed them from the sunbed vacuum machine and peeled away the acetate.

We now ran from the dark room with extreme haste into the workshop, where upon arrival we placed our plates into chemical baths for around a minute and a half. A soft brush was then used by each of us to remove photo emulsion that had not been exposed to the light. Our plates were then rinsed and left to dry in the sun.

Jesmonite casting

Our resin casts we poured the day previous were now dry enough to remove from our silicone moulds and so the task now came to de-mould them, all of the results coming out brilliantly.

This meant our moulds were now free to cast some Jesmonite with the option of adding additional pigments. The process for this was to mix the two components of the Jesmonite and whilst being conscious of time add the desired acrylic pigment. Mixing this pigment in such a way would mean a marbled effect would be achieved and as with all the previous, agitate.

Back to Photo-etching

As our photo etching plates were now suitably sun dried, it was time to place them into a bath of Nitric acid in order to etch away the areas of zinc that were now exposed.

The plates were left in the acid for a total of 30 minutes, brushing the surface every 3 or 4 minutes to prevent the build-up of zinc dust from slowing the reaction. If the reaction was slow to begin, as was mine, this was because of a very thin layer of photo emulsion still remaining in the exposed areas. To remove this, we were instructed to take a small amount of ammonia on a paper towel and scrub lightly, making sure to do this outside or with a respirator to avoid any inhalation of the fumes.

With the ammonia having done its trick, we were able to return the plates to the acid bath and once happy with the depth of the etch, we removed them from the bath and rinsed. Now the only thing remaining on the plate should be the cured areas of photo emulsion, which we then removed by plunging into a bath of caustic soda and water. The plates were now good to go and were rinsed and left to dry for a final time.

Back to the hard ground etching

With each of us having finished scratching our designs into our hard ground plates, it was now time to acid etch these as well. This process was very similar to that of the photo etching, with the difference being the time left in the acid. We set our timers for 7 minutes and submerged the plates in to the baths, lifting the plate from the acid and then returning it at 1 minute intervals, the purpose of this being to clean the plate of residue without making physical contact.

Once the time was up, we were each instructed to remove the plates from the acid and take them to Senor Daniel, who would inspect the plate and then inform you as to whether the plate would need uno, dos, tres or quatro minutes more in the bath.

With each of us having acid etched our hard ground plates, it was now time to remove the remaining black waxy coating which covered the surface. This was achieved by cleaning it with a petrol soaked cloth, cleaning this plate thoroughly was extremely important as any residual wax would mean the print could be affected. This again was left in the sun to dry, importantly not near a naked flame.

Final task of the day

Our final task of day four was to begin sanding our newly un-moulded resin casts. Using sandpaper of grits 400,800 and 1200, we began removing any imperfections on the surface of our towers.

Day five in the workshop – Printing from our etchings

On day five we went straight into it with a demonstration on how to print from our newly etched plates. Before proceeding with the tasks Daniel had laid out four different examples of glazes on one of the tables in the workshop, we then placed our tiles next to the finish we liked best. He would later cover our bare tiles with our chosen galze ready for firing and we’d see the results the following day. We also selected one of our newly bisque fired tiles, with the intention of picking the flattest of our creations for an aluminium cast, also the following day.

Each of us began by ensuring our plates were dirt and dust free, then taking a small amount of printing ink which had been thinned with a fat based softener we began working the ink into our plates.

Daniel informed us that the cloth we were using to work the ink into our plates was a piece of loosely woven hessian, perfect for applying the ink and then removing the excess, which we then did until around 90% of the ink had been removed from the surface. We were also told that the amount of ink you leave on the plate during the removal process determines how dark or light your print will be.

With the plates now inked, the paper had to be prepared. This meant soaking the linen based parchment in a water bath for approximately 3 minutes prior to printing. With the paper soaked and the excess water removed, we were able to place our etching plate on the roller press (in the correct orientation), cover with paper and roll away! Our new prints were then peeled carefully from the etching plate and hung to dry. This process was repeated with our photo etching plates and then again as a group print for the map of Barcelona, however this was on a much larger scale requiring a larger roller press and great deal of thought to ensure all the plates were laid out in the correct orientation.

To end the day, we each removed our Jesmonite towers from our moulds and poured an additional cast with rapid setting concrete.

Day six in the workshop – Aluminium casting, tower polishing and screen print design

We began day by using our flat bottomed tile to commence making an aluminium version.

Firstly, we placed or tiles on a very flat surface and arranged them within a wooden box in such a way that left a gap of at least 20mm between. We then took a small amount of foundry sand and began sieving it over our tiles, taking care not to move them or the box. Once the tiles were covered in an even layer of fine sand, we were told to compress it around the forms until an even skin was achieved. Having done this, we were able to continue adding shovels of sand into the box, compacting extremely well with each layer. When the rim of the box was reached, we were given a straight edged piece of timber with which to scrape away the excess and ensure the surface was level.

This initial box was then very carefully placed to one side and a new empty box was again placed onto the flat surface. Within this box we were instructed to position two tapered wooden sticks called spurs, which were to be positioned 20mm from the first and last tile which we had arranged in the previous box. In other words, they were placed in such a way that the aluminium would reach every part of the tiles on its journey from the crucible, down the first spur hole and ultimately out the exit spur hole.

Once these dowels had been positioned, we were able to repeat the sand compacting process until this box was also full and levelled. The wooden spurs and the tiles from the previous box were now removed and any damage left in the mould was now repaired.

Now with extreme care, we positioned the first sand box on top of the second, ensuring the correct orientation.

It was then explained to us that you can use pretty much any metal to cast into these foundry sand moulds, providing its melting point is lower than that of the sand.

When the metal had eventually melted, and the raging inferno had subsided, Armor and Nertos began pouring the molten metal into our moulds. Having cooled for around 15 minutes, we were told the tiles could now be removed from the sand, importantly wearing a pair of gloves as the temperature of the aluminium was still over 500 degrees. We then picked up the tiles with a pair of grips and plunged into a bucket of cold water until cool enough to handle.

Our aluminium tiles were now ready to have their surfaces finished which was achieved by using a combination of grinders and wire wheels, this removed any imperfections from their surface and gave them a high level of sheen.

Tower polishing

With the metal casting completed, the time had now come to finish polishing our resin towers to a translucent finish. To do this, we were instructed to wet the resin and then

proceed to sand the towers with increasing grits until an overall consistent finish was achieved, then finally buffing the resin to a gloss finish using a polishing mop and compound. It was essential that our towers remained wet throughout this process.

Further to this process we rinsed, dried and then applied a layer of oil to the tower’s surface.

The rest of the day was spent arranging our previous day’s work into an exhibition during which Armor and Nertos quizzed the group on their designs and production process.

We ended the day with a dinner in Liencres – Very nice.

Final day in the workshop Screen printing and awards

The final morning started with us starting to pack away the work we had set up for the exhibition and photographing the finished pieces. The completed pieces photographed particularly well in the sunshine!

At the same time, with each of the groups having finished their screen printing designs, we were talked through the process by Nertos. As explained earlier, the process was extremely similar to that of the photo etching. However, our designs which had now been printed on tracing paper were now laminated against a silk screen which had been coated in photo emulsion, as opposed to a zinc plate with the etching. The screens were now placed back into Daniels tanning machine and after 2 minutes they were ready for removal.  We were now instructed to quickly take them to the bathroom, which now with the addition of a red lightbulb had become the bathroom-darkroom. In this newly purposed space we were handed a water jet, with which we were instructed to blast the screen and remove any of the photo emulsion which had not been cured by the sunbed-vacuum.

Our screens once dry were now ready for printing. This meant laying them onto a flat piece of textile (in my case a t-shirt), ensuring that it was in the correct position and forcing a layer of ink through the newly created gaps in the screen using a squeegee. We were now able to remove the screens and hang our designs up to dry, this marked the final process of the week.

After this, we were each presented with a certificate outlining our participation in the week’s course and thanking us for our involvement.

Lastly, before saying our goodbyes we had a group Polaroid photo with Yerba the dog.

Experience Summary

I felt that I was very welcome during the course; Armor, Nertos and Daniel were excellent hosts. They were very good at encouraging you to explore your design ideas, questioning you along the way. They also informed us when they felt your design may be a little ambitious, impractical or may not work, this was very useful to people who had little experience before joining the course. The course was well structured to an extent. For example, drying times of certain processes were considered and therefore laid out on staggered days to ensure no process was missed out. I also felt the choice of processes were very usable for the students when they return to the university. This is with the exception of the screen printing, however I still felt this was a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable exercise.

The location of the course was also a big plus point. All three of the tutors were clearly very experienced in what they were teaching as it was not very often that the students were left wondering what to do next after a demonstration. We were all often encouraged to join Armor and Nertos in activities after the day’s work had finished, which was very nice.

Students who took part were: Maryam Ajoor, Erin Edmondson, Bubusara Abekova, Alice Weng Sam Lu, Chada Elalami, Zakia Ahmed, Hani Namirra Nasir, Alice Vetrugno , Tara Aveyard, Enrica Agus Klümper, Irina Corăga and Mylan Thuróczy.

Course organisers:

Armor Gutierrez Rivas, Nertos Gutierrez Rivas, Daniel Gutierrez Adán

Saul Parker-Backhouse, August 2019


Apply here for more information about the 2020 MSA exclusive week:

atelierlajuntana@gmail.com

More information about the course can be found on the ALJ website here: http://www.atelierlajuntana.com/SummerWorkshop.html

Atelier La Juntana – Modelmaking Summer School July 2020! **Cancelled due to Covid-19**

************This years collaboration has been cancelled due to Covid-19**************

 

Earlier this week our 3rd collaboration with Atelier La Juntana came to a close after a productive course of learning in the North Spanish sunshine. We’ll be posting more coverage of this years cohort in the coming weeks but first…

Hot off the heals of this years successful week-long course we’re pleased to announce the next installment of of our collaboration will take place between July 7th and July 13th 2020! This is the first time we have been able to confirm our collaboration at this early stage and applications are now open to MSA students (and staff!). The week long course near Santander provides a foundation in a range of craft and making skills for your design and presentation work back here at MSA.

Apply here for more information about the 2020 MSA exclusive week:

atelierlajuntana@gmail.com

More information about the course can be found on the ALJ website here: http://www.atelierlajuntana.com/SummerWorkshop.html

The trailer for this years course is here:

SimpsonHaugh B.15 Modelmaking Awards Winners 2019

This years SimpsonHaugh B.15 modelmaking awards were judged from a shortlist of 16 students on the afternoon of Friday 7th June.

The Judges: Nick Fleming, Phillipa Seagrave and Kaia Williams from SimpsonHaugh, MSA representatives Dr. Stephen Walker, Associate Lecturer Claudio Molina Camacho and B.15 Staff, Jim Backhouse, Scott Miller and Saul Parker-Backhouse.

After almost 2 hours of inspecting each of the projects and debating the resulting marks the winners were decided and are as follows:

BA (Hons) Architecture

1st Prize Harry Tate

2nd Prize Max King

3rd Prize Cameron Frame

MArch

1st Prize Nicholas Royce

2nd Prize Andrew Chung

3rd Prize Sandhya Parekh

Thanks to all of our Judges for the continued support! Congratulations to all who submitted work for the process which was a tough due to the high standards of modelmaking taking place across the board.

We wish you all the best in your future careers, keep making and keep in touch!

Good Luck!

Scott, Jim and Saul

SimpsonHaugh B.15 Modelmaking Workshop 2019 – Shortlist

This year we have received a record 65 applications for the SimpsonHaugh B.15 Modelmaking Awards across the BA3 and MArch cohorts of MSA. The quality of these applications has been of a high standard making the collective task extremely difficult to whittle down the number to a shortlist of 8 for BA3 and 8 for MArch.

We want to congratulate everybody who submitted this year making this a difficult process for all involved. The quality of the work overall has been fantastic and helps make this years show a great success.

In no particular order the shortlsited candidates are:

BA 

Callum Richardson

Cameron Frame

Emily Edwards

Faizal Akalwaya

Hayley Sheldon

Harry Tate

Max King

Ana Mayte Alvarado

 MArch

Courtnay Ives & Yiting Zhou

Sean Martin

Maciej Augustynowicz

Nicholas Royce

Sandhya Parekh

Charlotte Hagerty

Lobna Elagouz

Andrew Chung

View the submissions that made the shortlist here:

BA Shortlist 2019

MArch Shortlist 2019

Final judging will take place tomorrow and the winners will be announced at 18.00 approx during the private view.

Best of luck to all and thank you all for getting involved and making this awards scheme such a great success,

Scott, Jim & Saul @B15workshop