Peeling off latex cast from found wood

A few weeks ago, I collected pieces of wood I found in some woods that had either fallen or had been chopped down. I photographed and sketched them where I found them and then brought them home. Initially, I was just going to burn them, however, I thought it would be much more interesting to document every aspect of them since I had found them. At the beginning of the project, when I had been looking at a tree that had already gone through a transition when lightning had struck it, I made casts of the knots and natural patterns that had formed on the wood of the tree. I tried a number of materials but liquid latex was the most successful…

In this video, I am peeling away the latex I cast from the found piece of wood. I chose this piece of wood because of the contrast of the rough, textured surface with the smoother lines of the wood.  The wood was slightly damp when I found it so I left it to dry for three days then applied four layers of liquid latex to the wood, letting each layer dry individually. I then had to use a knife to cut through the latex as it was so thick in some places where the latex had filled into the depressions in the wood. When I was peeling the cast off, it was great to see how bits of the wood came off with the latex-very effective. When I originally sliced the latex open, some bugs jumped out from inside the wood – I quite like the idea of the wood still being ‘alive’! I decided to place the white sheet underneath the wood to give the process an almost clinical feel which I feel was successful and brought another dimension to my process.

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5 Responses to Peeling off latex cast from found wood

  1. Like the sound of the birds in the background 🙂

  2. Agree the white sheet underneath the wood works well in context, this continues the forensic – scientific feel of your earlier work, I like the fact you have been excavating, hiding and burying objects – then forensic style autopsy experimentation – what next , are you doing something with the latex can it be filled and stitched up to replicate the log ? Is the log or latex going back to the woods like your other objects? There’s a slight ambiguous perspective on your role which is interesting are you the uncovering the secrets or creating the secrets? Forensic scientist or perpetrator?

  3. nice, reminds me of a snake shedding its skin!

  4. Hannah Rohani Wenham says:

    I hadn’t really thought about the sound of the birds in the background as I haven’t been concentrating on the sound too much, but now realise that this is quite a stark contrast to the clinical feel of the white sheet- thanks!
    I was thinking about filling the latex casts with the ash I collected from burning each piece of wood then stitching it back up again. However, I then hung the casts up on the (white) wall where they look very striking and work well on their own and hung together. I am probably not going to put the latex back where I found the wood, although this could be an interesting idea to think about. I am going to burn the original pieces of wood to ash, so in a sense, I am returning them back into the ground.

  5. Natalie Jane Millet says:

    Have you thought about making wax casts using the latex moulds. This could be effective especially when linked with fire as the wax would be instantly associated with that of candles. You could also keep the use of natural materials following through this process by using bees wax which could then be melted, thus heightening the destructive effect of the fire – due to the time and energy that has been put in by nature to produce the product, much like the branch itself. the process of making a wax cast is not too difficult and could be effective as you can also colour the wax to replicate the branch.
    hope all goes well

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