Inspiring artist…Paul Squire

As a designer we are surrounded by creative people and it is in those relationships we have with people’s work we evolve our own selves.  In the posts I often mention other’s work but it is how I relate to their works which progresses my own.  There isn’t really a place to list some of the people who have made me stop and think in a more general sort of way.  So this post…

I have written about “iconic” design in objects. Why this area interest me so is that I believe it is through what we create as people we try to make sense of our relationship with the world.  Art is a way of communicating those things we can’t put into words.  Art captures something. At least that is what great art is to me. And the “rules” of what is contemporary art fall aside and really for deep longevity it needs something, well long lasting, something with relevance and meaning.

One artist who’s work does this for me is Paul Squire.

at the core - Paul Squire

at the core – Paul Squire

These images capture to me something about our times in such a penetrating way.  The images linger in meaning remaining fresh long after the first viewing.  His work to me seems to be an investigation to visualise the micro and macro “stuff” around us.  In a dream like way it leaves us to wonder.

atomic - Paul Squire

atomic – Paul Squire

My work is based on what happens when we manipulate natural materials and in doing so I feel the outcome of my work needs to be rather man-made in the forms I choose to use.  Maybe because it is the ideas which explore organic subjects. I think that is why I am drawn to Mr. Squire’s work because it is right that the visualisations in this conceptual stage are so fluid. And that is why I need to be surround by this in the thinking stages.

I guess my need to keep the 3D form outcome structured is because the objects we create are the second stage of the thinking that is much closer to our rational mind. We can never mimic nature with justice.  That is why a marble statue to me is regal whist a painted statue is cheap in some way.  I feel we need to respect we are man and we are part of nature but we have this brain which provides reflection and that means at points of analysis we are separate from our instinctual self.

bridge - Paul Squire

bridge – Paul Squire

Without getting too heavy I guess this is what Aldous Huxley wrote about in The Human Situation. But when it comes to 2D work, imagery it can be rich, fluid and emotive. because it is there where we find our inward relationship with the world around us.

union - Paul Squire

union – Paul Squire

The Construction…proposed

Using natural non wovens generally means sourcing sheet material. Mainly because it is very difficult to compress or tangle the non wovens into a uniform material without the use if industrial machines.  And since we are past the age of injection moulding and on the edge of a digital printable material, sheet material seems well, a bit “flat”. So in the design we need to express this “flatness” to our advantage. And “flat” material is used in conventional footwear so to use these natural materials as leather shoes are made seems inappropriate. So carrying on from the hollow heel/sole of the previous felt shoes in which the flat material becomes the structure seems right.

over lasted felt with hollow sole, the lasting is the structure photo: Panos Damaskinidis

As designers we often work intuitively and then later analyse why we have done something a certain way. I still can not clearly put into words why this hollow structure is intriguing. It has something to do do with the decorative upper becoming the structure of the heel. It is about simplicity maybe not in construction but to the eye and mind. And I guess that is what we do as designers.  We are the bridge between the engineering and people to hopefully make poetic artefacts.

So  evolving on there are some practical concerns about using various non wovens.  Some are rough next to the skin so came the idea of using a felt sock or bootie which is resined on the sole to form the insole structure. Then side walls are over lasted and wrapped around, undercut under the insole area to form a ledge that the bootie rest on.  The bootie is slipped in to this “over lasted shell”.

…explode view felt sock centre with resined sole and moulded sides with ledge that the resin sole sit on.

hemp sides, insert sock resined, sits on feather line ledge

Paper pulp concept and material test…

A few months ago Jess the Materials Librarian at CSM and LCF suggested I contact the people at Sodra to possibly use this mouldable paper pulp material.  She showed me a sample of the finished material.  It was like a plastic styrene with a velvety surface finish.  The material is really strong and was used for furniture.  When I first approached Sodra the company were concerned the water wear would prevent the application in footwear.  After a couple months being urged again by Jess I contact the company again explaining that these shoes were prototypes which could be applied to further research and development in which the water wear issue could be investigated further at a later stage.

They agreed and sent the material. Fantastic!

The pulp is paper so cellulose with a biopolymer.  Water is added and then the material is poured or put into a mould which needs to compress and heated once the water is removed. In manufacturing a metal tool would be used with heat compression for best surface quality.

But we will have to rig up a workshop method to recreate this process as close as we can get.  I am sure the surface quality will suffer a but these things go in stages!

Above is a link to the Sodra Labs website.  In it the material is explained.  We are using Durapulp as the pulp comes in three strengths.

In the workshop at the college I tried playing with the material initially as I do not have the moulds yet.  This play was also to help inform what might be needed in the moulds.

I mixed the pulp with water…

Tested it under flat compression and let air dry.

compressed sodra

The result was very dense and tough but really the material needs to be baked soon after or as it is compressed.

The toe was wrapped with pulp and gauze and let to air dry.  I tried putting the material in the footwear flash oven and some densifying of the material happened but again this needs to happen as compressed or close to this stage.

sodra wrapped around last bound with stretch creep gauze air dry

sodra toe test 1- air dried and flash oven baked

Now in theory this material could work as it has been used on furniture as below…

(all from the Sodra website…)

sodra chair from website

on the left showing surface of early prototype of chair

sodra chair on tool

So the chair is a “bucket shape” with nice draft angles…

I am hoping to create a “up-side-down” bucket with the side ledges that the felt sock with the stiffened sole can sit on – be glued in?

as below…