Week 9: Composites

Assignment: Use composites (in this case burlap and epoxy) to create something 

This week, we experimented with composites! I wasn’t a huge fan of the epoxy-ied burlap but decided to give it a shot nonetheless. In the spirit of fall, I wanted to make a bowl with leaf shapes so there would be a bunch of cutouts in between. To start, Randi and I decided to cut some leaf shapes out of the burlap on the laser cutter. In theory, should be easy right? NO.

First, it took us a while to get the settings right to actually cut through the burlap. Eventually what worked was setting the PPI and the power to the highest possible and messing with the speed. A speed of 8 seemed to do the trick. Even so, because of the weave in the burlap, it would often fall apart at the stems of the leaves. We ended up trying to make these thicker and messing around with the leaf sizes to get this to be better and eventually giving into the annoyingness of the fabric.

week10lasercut week10vaccuum

I placed the leaves in an assorted pattern on a bowl that I was using as my mold. In retrospect, I should have layered the same sized leaves to make the pattern less chaotic, but learnings for next time! After a couple overlapping layers, I put the bowl in the vacuum bag, making sure to have the bag loose enough to encapsulate the bowl entirely. I left it there for about 3 hours and took it out!   

The epoxy had dried quite well by the time I took out the bowl. I forgot to put an epoxy free layer at the end, so the epoxy had kind of plugged in some of the holes I was hoping for. At this point, I was somewhat indifferent about the results so thought I’d cease the opportunity to just experiment. I decided to use an knife to cut out some of the holes that were intended. This was somewhat difficult so I gave up after an hour or so. I thought I’d try and paint the bowl and see what the results would be. I used the vectors of the leaves to cut them out of vinyl and acrylic to put up in my apartment for fun while I waited for the vacuum to finish. I ended up using the negatives of the vinyl cuts to paint the leaf patterns on the bowl.


  • final bowl

    final bowl

  • burlap bowl

    burlap bowl

  • bowl bottom

    bowl bottom

  • bowl inside

    bowl inside