Jamie Hascall 1/20/11
The folks who attended the 2nd Mountmaking Forum at the Museum of the American Indian in DC got to see pictures of a very interesting mannequin building concept using a polyester felt that shrinks and hardens when steamed. Marla Miles from Cincinnatti Art Museum gave a great presentation their project and many details of the process.
I know I came away from the weekend wanting to experiment with the material, and to date I have made five mannequins. I know at least two others have also done some building, so I wanted to see if there was enough interest out there to share some methods and talk about problems etc.
Historic and ethnic costume mannequins are one of those perrenial problems and this has the potential to be a good way of dealing with it. I'll post some pictures tomorrow and we can see where the creativity of this group has taken the process.
Jamie Hascall Chief Preparator DCA Exhibits Central Santa Fe, NM
I used Fosshape to create a number of torsos for our "Katharine Hepburn-Dressed for Stage and Screen" exhibition. It's really great stuff to work with, and gives me the ability to clone a single form repeatedly, rather than assembling and carving ethafoam. I'll post some images of my results as soon as I can, and I'd be happy to share notes.
Jim Williams Exhibition Designer/Preparator The Kent State University Museum Kent, OH
Sadly I haven't had time to experiment with Fosshape yet but I would love to see what other people are coming up with! Keep us posted. Joanne White Curator Musée Héritage Museum St. Albert, Alberta
Hi Jaimie, I didn't get to attend in DC but had heard about the material you are talking about. I am really curious about it and looking forward to the images. Relative to that I have a thought to share. After talking to some of the Mountmakers at the Getty, PACIN is inviting members of this Forum to use the "Mountmaking" section on their website to post images/comments etc... Hopefully this Forum will have it's own website in the future, but in the mean time I wanted to pass along the invitation. It is really easy to post images and stuff on the site. It takes about 30 seconds to register there and it means you don't have to dig through your old emails when you want to look at an image. The other good (or bad?) thing about it is that a bunch of preparators get to look at it too. Anyway don't know if this idea sounds interesting to anyone, but please know that you are definitely invited to use this resource as your own. Regards, Ashley
T. Ashley McGrew PACIN Publications Chair Art and Object - Integrated Safety Systems 3749 2nd. Avenue La Crescenta, CA 91214 (646) 265 - 5526 email@example.com
Steve Briscoe 1/20/11
Has Fosshape been Oddy tested? There is a similar plastic form that is used to make custom splits for hands. http://www.multi-cast.info/html/orthoticintervention.htm I haven't used it and it's probably expensive as heck but seems good form smaller mounts that need better support. http://www.douglasandsturgess.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=DAS&Product_Code=BC-1109&Category_Code=THERMOPLASTICS-THERMO http://www.douglasandsturgess.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=DAS&Product_Code=BC-1049&Category_Code=THERMOPLASTICS-THERMO http://www.douglasandsturgess.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=DAS&Product_Code=BC-1059&Category_Code=THERMOPLASTICS-THERMO This is a great place in the Bay Area for prop, modeling and sculpture supplies. We've used buckram for lightweight torso forms. A little messy since you work it wet. But the forms are easily adjustable for those vintage waistlines. Steve Briscoe Chief Preparator, History Department Oakland Museum of California 1000 Oak Street Oakland, CA 94607 ph. 510.238.2244 <> fax 510.238.3044
"The Story of California. The Story of You" Oakland Museum of California www.museumca.org
We have not Oddy tested it but here is a good tutorial on how to use it.
Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 E. Blvd.
Cleveland OH 44106
Hi all, Sorry to take so long to return to the thread. Building these exhibits gets in the way of things like this.
Marla forwarded pictures of some of Jim's mannequins to me and I was blown away by how beautiful they were. They are one of the reasons I wanted to start this discussion.
For those that have not heard of this material, the Fosshape 600 is a white polyester felt that is about 3/16" thick. You can cut it and sew it into a basic bag around a form. The fabric shrinks about 10% when steamed and hardens into a shell. It will fuse to itself as well so portions can be cut out and the edges overlapped and fused to match a curve such as a shoulder or waist. Sewing these sort of darts makes a cleaner look but is not absolutely necessary. Where extra strength is needed, two layers and be laid over the form and the two will shrink and fuse together. I've found that a second yoke running over the shoulders and partway down the chest and back helps a lot in this regard.
As the material is activated by heat, we have tried hot air as well as steam. A hot air gun has a tendency to shrink and fuse the outer surface where steam travels through the felt and shrinks it much more uniformly. A local artist who has been using it found that a steam iron actually did a reasonable job and is definitely a tool that should be part of the kit.
The resulting surface seems acceptable for contact with all but the most fragile fabrics. I did find that one side tended to fuzz a bit more than the other, but was generally fairly soft in reference to any abrasiveness.
The overall structure ends up to be strong enough to support a distributed weight, but is not an inherently strong material. If the hardened fabric is distorted to the point of kinking, the strength for that area is compromised and will always be soft. I used 2" ethafoam carved to fill the shoulders and for support disks at the waist and base to give overall rigidity. This part is time consuming and doesn't really give the structure for mounting arms or heads. One technique that has been tried is filling the inner cavity with packing peanuts and compressing them in with the foam disks. It helps but is a long way from archival. Ideally, I'd like to find a conservationally acceptable pour in foam that could fill and harden the shoulders. Any ideas are welcome.
The supplier we have been using is Dazian Fabrics (http://www.dazian.com/), but there are other sources as well.
I think that cloning from a single form is the most straightforward use of this material. We are generally confronted with the challenge of making mannequins for a wide variety of ethnic and historic garments. I had the concept of using an adjustable dress form as the basis for making these, but my search for a sturdy enough form has been unsuccessful. We carved a group of three sizes that do a reasonable job of meeting the basic needs, but we haven't had the time or support to make this as high a priority as I'd like. Ideally, a set of commercial body forms would suffice, but both cost and storage end up being issues. Current commercial mannequins end up being too broad shouldered, long of torso, and big busted to be of much use.
We have not done Oddy tests on the material, but an FTIR reading showed a pretty clean polyester. It's been a little while since we did it but I remember our head conservator giving it the thumbs up. It is definitely a different type of material than the Multicast plastics that Steve sited. Fosshape is sometimes referred to as a Buckram replacement. After using both, I'll never go back to buckram as the basic process is very similar but there is no water involved and the shape is set and hardened as soon as it cools from the steaming.
I'm cross posting this to the PacIn Forum site as suggested by Ashley. I was going to try to attach photos to this message, but I'm going to do a Flickr album with a link instead. I'll post the link as soon as the pictures are up. I look forward to others taking the time to tell their stories and techniques.
New Mexico Dept. of Cultural Affairs
Santa Fe, NM
Suzi McG 1/24/11
I did not get to attend the Forum in DC because of a conflict in schedule, so I would love to see more about mannequin building. I find the need for mannequins is one area that seems to have been growing among the projects that I've been working on.
Looking forward to seeing what people have come up with! Suzi
I don't know how many of you are familiar with the book "Museum Mannequins" that I co-edited with conservator Margot Brunn a few years ago.We tried to cover a wide range of garment supports and although there are new materials like fosshape now available, the basics are still good and many other materials are covered. The book is available through Margot at the Royal Alberta Museum: Margot.Brunn@gov.ab.ca Joanne White Curator Musée Héritage Museum St. Albert, Alberta
Jamie, Just a thought for stuffing materials. You where looking for a replacement for styrofoam peanuts? University Products carries shredded ethafoam or "Ethafoam Crystals". They are just as much of a static nuscense as peanuts are if not more so since it is smaller but definitely can be used as a squisable filler. We have used them to make soft pillows for temporary object supports. Or have poured them into liners to fill a soft leather object with a small opening. Pam Gaible