Call with Melanie
Meeting with Heather
Today we also had a catch up with Heather to discuss our progress and where to go next. She requested that we could also construct a large model flower and bee for a display for public engagement, including the Fascination of Plants day and the Festival of Nature.(Websites linked below).
I had an idea that we could paint the flower in UV paint to illustrate how a bee would see it. The idea seemed to be quite popular. Heather showed us this website http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_flowers_list.html which had many images of flowers under UV and would certainly be a great help in selecting one to base our model on. I've been running through ideas in my head of how best to construct the flower. Initially we were thinking plaster. I didn't like the idea of using modrock however because it doesn’t give a smooth finish due to the fibres in it. Pure plaster on the other can be sanded down to be made smooth and doesn’t have the lumps and bumps from the structural material to begin with. However I thought that this media would be a bit heavy, stiff and chunky for a giant flower. It would be a flower ornament and wouldn’t have the realism in texture and weight.
I thought the best material to use would be some sort of fabric. Fake, fabric flowers are commonly made and I thought this was probably an idea worth playing with. The main issue would be stiffening the structure in a giant flower so that it didn't droop. I thought using interfacing or an internal wire structure may work for this, while still preserving petal flexibility, which plaster wouldn't do. The right sort of fabric would also give a closer representation of a petals true sheen and hopefully a light, delicate look. There are many online tutorials about how to make fabric flowers. This is an example of one I looked at
How to get the UV colour is a bit more complicated. While getting UV paint and even UV fabric paint isn't difficult, to get both a material and a paint or dye that will produce a decent finish could be more complex. From my experience, fabric paint can make a material stiff, rough and hard and isn’t at all suitable for painting the entire surface. It can look very obviously painted. The range of quality in fabric paint obviously varies and apparently there are some types which exist which don't look or feel much more different than if the material was dyed.
UV fabric dye would certainly be preferable. With dye we could look at applying the colour with tie-dye which when applied well can get very specific patterns. Some of the UV patterns on the flowers seem to be very much made for tie dye.
Other ways of getting UV onto the material would be fabric paint, or possibly spray paint may give a nice look, but this couldn't be applied with tie-dye and probably wouldn't have the same nice finish. Furthermore, while it seems easy enough to get invisible UV paint and visible UV fabric paint, it seems to be hard to locate invisible UV fabric paint, which is what we want. My searches also showed that such paints made the fabric stiff and hard.
I'm going home this weekend and do have a range of material scraps, some fabric paint and fabric dyes, so I intend to have an experiment with what sort of material takes best to dyes and fabrics. There is also a possibility of using fabric pens/markers. I'm very puzzled about the difficulty of finding UV fabric dye; it doesn't feel like it should be such a rare product. I'm quite sure UV hair dye is common enough so maybe I'm just not looking in the right places.
I find it quite amusing that I can obtain UV water dye http://www.glowshop.com/product-p/uvwd50.htm but not fabric dye. If only we could make a flower ice sculpture haha. The best UV product I could find today was this:
This paint came in a range of colours and dried clear in normal light. I assume this implies that it could be overlaid onto another painted surface without affecting the original colour, although the website stated that it worked best on a light background. We could compensate for this by using a white or yellow flower. There is however a problem in that using fabric would be difficult. The point of the fabric was that it would give a weight and texture similar to a real flower, the moment paint is applied it would lose these qualities. Unfortunately I think we may have to look for some other sort of material to use. I had a thought of using some sort of light, flexible plastic to cover the petals. This would have the light, flexible nature of the fabric without the fibres.