Originally I wanted to make a combination of banana fibres and tussle and latex.
But the laminating process would prove to be problematic and long in this time frame. So I stumbled upon a made sheet material called Cocolok. This is coconut fibres and latex. I found it on a blog called Hello Materials http://hellomaterialsblog.ddc.dk/2012/06/11/a-design-boost-for-natural-fibre-composites/
This material is used for a number of things but main application is for mattresses. The company informed me as footwear company called Po-Zu has been using the material for insoles http://po-zu.com/uk/coconut.
The material is coconut layered up and strayed with latex then compressed through rollers. It comes in differing densities. In speaking with the representative of the company we thought there would be a density suitable for wedges. They very kindly sent samples thin to thick of 80-120 density. I believe it goes up to 200 density.
As a student you have to work with what is on hand. Please remember this investigation in natural fibres in application to footwear primarily exploring how a natural material can evolve in arrangement and binding to have the same potential properties of rapid prototyping processes.
So we found that the cocolok wedge “blocks” while pleasurable under the feet were too unstable. So we bio resined the side walls with a brush, spatula and because the resin ran through the open cocolock a “wall” of bio resin which was structural foamed and then the centre stayed soft. We then put on a top layer cocolok insole “mattress”.
below is an image of the crude test mock. A felt sock mule would be attached to the top. The bioresin would be polished.
The rational behind using Crochet as one of the materials is that it is not only non-woven but is a structure which adds, or builds in a very direct manner. So the choice to to keep the crochet stitch was a purposeful one. The aim was to keep the unit (the stitch) the same but repeat and then make the knit denser as the material moved from the upper to the heel. This is very important, this repetition, as this is modernism…
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.
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.
Now in theory this material could work as it has been used on furniture as below…
(all from the Sodra website…)
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?