The workshop: Thinking through making


Another session in the workshop! We took this time mostly recapping on what we had learnt in the previous plastics workshop tour. All of us were quite familiar with the equipment around us and its purpose, therefor we felt pretty confident with the tasks set out today.

You could call this project ‘Thinking through making’ as it involves making a serious of random different forms using plastics, woods and metals, all which will be carried out on two separate workshops visits. For this one we focused on cutting, sanding and bending plastics. We each chose a piece of plastic each, choosing our favourite colour!


We then drew onto this two lines from where we would cut through the plastic sheet, we do this using the Band saw, a power tool which uses a blade consisting of a continuous band of metal with teeth along one edge to cut various work pieces.


It is important to always wear safety goggles when using the band saw to prevent bits of plastic damaging your eyes. You hold your piece of plastic very steadily when pushing it through the metal blade and watch your fingers! There is a safety stop to the bottom left of the band saw and one just level with where your hands would be, so if you lose control of your piece of plastic or anything else happens the red stop can be kicked and the machine will automatically stop.

After cutting our sheet of plastic into three pieces, we then went onto sanding down the edges to create a perfectly smooth finish; this will be important when we are working on real projects as the overall finish will be judged.


Above is the electric sander which we used to sand down our pieces of plastic, ensure a steady grip otherwise the machine could take it out of your hand. We didn’t need to hold the plastic over the sander for too long, around 5 seconds on each side is enough. Next we did some sanding using other materials.


We simply sanded our pieces of plastic against these sandpaper boards just to add an even finish, we applied water onto the edges of our plastic and scrubbed them against one of the boards which just ensured any bits of plastic and dust were sanded away.

Once we were happy with our pieces of plastic we then went onto bending them into different shapes using the line bender, this is a tool to make precise bends in sheets of thermoplastic polymer.

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Taking care, we all had a go at heating up the part of our plastic we wanted to bend.

If we wanted to create a perfect 90 degree angle we could use the bending jig. This can also be altered to different angles if needed. Hold the plastic in this position for about a minute until the shape is completely fixed.
My finished shapes.

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My finished pieces of plastic take the form of seats, and when turned around can look like tables. When i put them together they can be made to look like beds or long couches. Next week is the follow up session where we will be looking at mounding and cutting metals, i’m really excited to see what sort of object i will be able to create at the end using all of my shapes.

An idea of the sort of piece we could be left with at the end of the ‘thinking through making’ sessions.

For the second part of ‘Thinking Through Making’ we looked at woods and metals, and the ways in which we could change and shape the two components to add to our thinking through making end product. We were given three pieces of metal between our group with which we could shape in any way we wanted to, whether this was bending on the Bailegh industrial box and plan folder, creating curves on the steel and aluminium rollers, or cutting the metal using a cutting machine or by hand using a hacksaw. It wasn’t too important to have a specific idea of what we wanted to do with each of the elements, as the main aim for this project was to just test, experiment, and learn the different ways of joining different elements together and creating a seamless finish. We then chose two pieces of wood to experiment with, this was MDF and mahogany wood so it was quite easy to work with. Of course wood cannot be bent and kept in a position like metals can, so we had the options of cutting, drilling, and sanding our pieces of wood. I liked the idea of using the holesaw to create some varying circles within the wood, this will create interesting visual elements which will allow us to see different materials through the wood. We were also given the opportunity to do some vac-forming with sheets of plastic, to create cup shaped moulds which would also be very visually engaging.

The Bailegh industrial box and plan folder, used to bend and shape thin metals
experimenting on the box and plan folder  to create different bends and angles
Experimenting on the metal rolling tool to create curvatures within my metal. I wanted to implement much use of curves and sharp angles within my work.
Other interesting shapes created by our group. The metal can also be bent by hand to create different forms.

When each of our components had been beautified and shaped by us, it was then time to join them together! We did this by using the techniques which Daz showed us i.e. pop riveting, i felt it was important to implement each of these joining methods into our models and this would mean it was a true reflection of testing and experimentation. When combining the components, the form will usually start to suggest way to build, as you can see in the image above our model may be more of an ‘exterior display’ or it may be a more enclosed interior concentrated model; this technique of allowing different elements to lead to an image being created is also noted in my technical drawing session with Brian.

Combining two very interesting forms of metal, i like the juxtaposition of curves and angles together; I decided to use a pop rivet for my joining method. I think this will form the basis for the end model, all other components will have to work around this central element.
An image to show all of our final components, shaped and moulded. It will be interesting to see what we can make when they are all combined together!

The final hurdle – Our finished piece.

Collaborating all of our cleverly formed, bent, and melted components together, we were left with this beautifully aesthetic, rather abstract model. The model is a wonderful reflection of different joining methods and taking a different approach to manipulate and change each component we were made to work with.

This caterpillar looking construction is our final model piece. The juxtaposition of elevated elements against lower floor level elements creates rhythm, and pattern, something said to be a great aspect of good design. The rippling effects in the metal work allows our eyes to follow the structure and be excited for what we are about to see next within the model. We have incorporated use of positive and negative shapes, by infilling some of the plastic cups, and leaving some of them free to look into. From a structural, architectural point of view, if this model was on a human sided scale I.e. the size of your average building, standing below the largely elevated portion of the model to the right would be a fantastic experience. This part of the model is intended to look as if it is falling, but is actually perfectly safe and held up. It would be a great project idea to print images of this model out and add figure drawings, to add scale. We haven’t over used colours within the model, but just incorporated them again in a rhythmic fashion, at the start, middle, and finish of the model. There is some sort of energy about the model, it isn’t an enclosed structure but an open, elongated one, translating movement and ambition within. I am incredibly proud of myself and my groups for the outcome of this thinking through making project, for we have not just mocked up a random model, but thought about different elements, and thought about what makes good design.


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