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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021

Experiment in building fiberglass from foam mold

Carter Uslabar

Senior, Multimedia Journalism, English

Abstract

“This might not work.”

-Seth Godin

The purpose of this project was to experiment with building a chair using nautical and automotive repair techniques with fiberglass. The material was popularized in design by Ray and Charles Eames’ famous shell chairs; this particular design was inspired by that and Verner Panton’s Panton Chair. This chair was produced through the following process: Structural foam was molded and carved to the desire shape, before being coated in thin layer of concrete. The concrete was sanded, coated with a gelcoat, and primed with a release. Fiberglass was laid upon the mold and wetted with an epoxy hardener before being removed. The process was both successful and not; but is truthfully not yet ended. The mold performed its function, the fiberglass hardened, but the mold broke midway through. The first prototype effectively gestures toward the final product, which is yet to be completed by being molded off the back of the prototype in lieu of the mold. While the success of the project’s outcome is less than ideal, it illustrates the possibilities and value of interdisciplinary work, artistic experimentation, and the critical and creative thinking skills idealized by the university.

Project Background 

A lay-person’s interest in architectural and industrial design brought me to begin creating various miniature models, often mimicking famous design staples, before pursuing this creative work. The process was difficult, as work’s nature is such there aren’t many existing resources to consult. In this sense, it was an organic form of learning, a process of learning not first through theory, but by action from the start. Like education, life, and art, the process is not yet truly complete.

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4 Comments

  1. Christopher Wagner

    Bravo Carter! I must say that this endeavor is laudable. Your realization of the process of education is excellent commentary. This is a most fascinating project and I thank you for sharing it with us. I love the line about this being a success and also not. You possess great vision.

    Reply
  2. Debbie Gray Patton

    What an interesting design! Thank you for sharing your process.

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth Wade-Sirabian

    Your project reminds us all, no matter what we study, that mistakes and setbacks are valuable steps in the learning process. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    Reply
  4. Sam Looker-Koenigs

    This is fascinating, Carter! I love seeing the unexpected talents and insatiable curiosity of our students. 🙂

    Reply

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