All posts by Joey

I like cheese


Objective: To make//find an aesthetically pleasing, translucent material – both hard, “glass-like” and flexible – latex-like in its properties. Can be used decoratively, like lacquered onto sculpture or poured into moulds as a potential resin replacement, or used as sheets for projection – projecting on or projecting through. Again, the filter of the filter. Also experimenting with colour – natural versus unnatural, stained glass hues. Most importantly, the bio-material must be durable, strong and inexpensive.


materialfinal10Some of my initial tests above ended up cracking – very brittle (like my life, haha jokes). So I decided to crush them into rock-like fragments that I thought could live life as interesting crystal fragments or re-constituted as another material. The flat colourless sheets were super wrinkled but were quite durable and translucent.


With the help of the Green Plastics book, I decided to attempt to make bio-glass and bio-latex. Let’s just say that the first was a failure in the sense that I never made anything hard enough to be constituted as glass. The main issue is that it is so hot and humid and it takes so long for the plastic to dry that it begins to mould, so I have to throw it away before it gets to the final stages. However, with these experiments there was little shrinking and with the flat sheets, no cracking at all. In fact, I managed to create a series of different sheets of bio-latex like material that could be used interestingly in a variety of artistic applications.


My first “bio-glass” recipe that created, in fact, flexible thin plastic:


Pure Gelatin

  • 4 tsp gelatine (Knox)
  • 1 cup of 1% glycerin solution (that means 1% glycerin to 99% water)
  • 3 drops of blue food colouring

For this recipe i mixed all the ingredients thoroughly before turning on the heat and cooking the plastic on the stove until simmering, then poured (like liquid) into containers or spread on foil. After 3 hours, it was jelly like and hardening.


I also baked a quarter of the same batch with no food coloring at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes. After 3 hours there was little to no change except a slight jellification (is that an actual word).



  • 1 tsp potato starch
  • 1 tsp gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cup 1% glycerin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 drops red food colouring

I cooked this again on the stove (it turned pink). After 3 hours there was absolutely no reaction… still completely liquid-like.

So I decided to add more potato starch.


  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 4 tbspoon water
  • 1/2 tsp glycerin
  • 1 tsp gelatin
  • 1/2 cup 1% glycerol solution
  • 2 drops red food colouring

After 3 hours, it was jelly-like, moist, translucent and rather pliable. Definitely turned out more like my initial experiments than the liquid batches above.

I decided to try one more batch that was a bit more creative though. I read online that the inside translucent film of egg shells have been used – their extracted protein at least – to make bioplastic. Obviously I didn’t have the resources to do that so I decided to just try… dumping in little bits of film from the inside of an egg.


  • 2 tbspoon potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp glycerin
  • 1 tsp gelatin
  • 1/2 cup 1% glycerol solution
  • Film bits from an egg
  • Mica powder


I added salt because in the Green Plastics book it said if you worked purely with starch the salt would help (somehow… I stopped paying attention when the scientific explanations started getting diagram-y). I added mica powder towards the end after simmering the solution on the stove because I thought – why not? I use a lot of mica powder to make a pearl-like finish on my polymer clay and I thought this would give the material an interesting sheen as well. Which it did.


As you can see, after about four days the thin bits of film were totally dry but a lot of my plastic was still very moist. This led to mould appearing instantly around the fourth day and I had to keep picking it off (blargh). So bio-glass remains a future option to experiment with, possibly with a faster drying option like an alcohol bath or maybe even experimenting with tapioca starch/arrowroot/coffee as Karen was doing – as some of her experiments were pretty dry in a few hours.


I managed to make actual fully transparent bits of pliable, flexible plastic, which is incredible. Also latex-like material of different colours. Adding green and blue food colouring together made a black piece of plastic which is super interesting.


The most interesting pieces of plastic was the one I could peel perfectly from the aluminum foil (don’t use baking wrap unless you have some kind of release) and it imprinted words onto the plastic – so definite potential resin/imprinting abilities. And also the mica-powder experiment I did last because of the shimmer the mica powder gave it.


Overall, I can say my experiments were definitely successful to an extent and I have every expectation and intention of incorporating bioplastic fully into my artistic practice in the future as a bio-material to support my projection and video work and as an artistic medium of its own right. I will perfect my technique – towards the bio-future, as our computer overlords might say.

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Fun with Bioplastics

My journey into the world of bioplastics has been a mad experience through an alien landscape. I went to the grocery store and I got me some cornstarch, thermometer, food colouring (ALL COLOURS BECAUSE I’M ~*PRIMARY*~), milk, vinegar… and went to the local pharmacy to get me some glycerin.

Here are some websites I was looking at: Instructables & Make Your Own Bioplastics by Greenplasticsnet

I still haven’t had time to do casein (milk) bioplastic yet so I decided to stick to corn for now. I’m really interested in chitin, algae, tapioca, potato, gelatine, sunflower seed, soya bean proteins, yam, banana skin, etc or more or even combining different polymers with fibres like flax and hemp. Bioplastics Party, anyone…?

bioplastic3do you take sugar with your bioplastic

bioplastic2I am an art student and my food colouring is very artistic 


bioplastic16my science lab

Experiment 1: using the Instructables base ingredients and recipe.

  1. 1/2 cup cornstarch
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 1 tsp canola oil
  4. 3 drops of blue food colouring

Experiment 2: using Instructables base ingredients and recipe but adding MORE water to make more pliable.

  1. 1/2 cup cornstarch
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1 teaspoon canola oil
  4. 3 drops yellow food colouring


+ HEART: I had some extra left of experiment 2 after I poured the mixture into the aluminium foil cupcake moulds so I decided to add a drop of blue food colouring to a single heart-shaped mould and let it mix by itself with the yellow mixture.

Then I reached a plateau because I was like, wait.. I don’t have a microwave. I considered this for a bit and then decided to just bake my mixture for an undetermined amount of time. It was 1:09 PM. I baked the mixture (all of the above together) until 1:25, a total of 16 minutes. Then I took it out and let it cool down.

bioplastic11 bioplastic13 bioplastic10This is what I do in my spare time. Much art very wow

Experiment 3: Using Greenplasticsnet’s recipe and ingredients

bioplastic5Random unrelated thought: is cheese a bioplastic?

  1. 1 tbsp cornstarch
  2. 4 tbsp water
  3. 1 tsp glycerin
  4. 2 drops of yellow food colouring

bioplastic6Please don’t ask me why

This recipe asked for the mixture to be heated on the stove. However, it did not specify what temperature, how long, when I should start the heat so I mixed all of the ingredients before turning on the heat and continuing to stir until it looked kind of kneadable and jelly-like. I tried with no food colouring and then a second batch WITH food colouring (red and yellow). I guess the second batch turned out slightly more malleable and clay-like probably because I still had remnants of the first batch at the bottom of the pot (…because I was lazy…)

bioplastic7Guess the Biofruit

bioplastic8I tried


  • Oven-baked cornstarch bioplastic is a lot more gelatin/jelly-like than the stove-cooked bioplastic. The latter is a lot more malleable like hot, soft clay when fresh.
  • Both CRACK and shrivel (shrink) when dried. This is problematic… I need to figure out how best to tackle this problem. Would refrigerating help? What about pouring resin over it before it dries?
  • I’ve read that the pliability of the bioplastic depends not only on how much cornstarch/water you put in but also the amount of glycerin. If you put in a lot of glycerin, there is the likelihood that the plastic will never dry, which is interesting.
  • How to stop the bioplastic from biodegrading as much as possible even if it endures heat (for example, an LED light…?)
  • The corners of the oven-baked bioplastic are interesting; they’re translucent/transparent and very plastic like.
  • I’m not sure the canola oil helped with anything except to form these interesting oil spot textures on the surface of the oven-baked bioplastic.

bioplastic17Cheese platter?

And that’s the end of this episode of Fun with Bioplastics. Tune in next time for further kid’s serious lab experiments.

ARBOFORM: biowood

Hey guys, so in the course of my research for bioplastics, I also ventured into searching for bio-resins… and found this!

Yeah that’s right. Injectable bio-wood.
“It looks like wood, feels like wood, is even made of wood – but it shifts shape and solidifies like plastic, bringing together the most powerful material assets of two of the most used materials on the planet. Lingin (an often-discarded element of regular wood) is combined with natural resins, flax and fibers that can be injected into molds and form extremely complex, precision-shaped objects normally made of conventional, non-biodegradable petroleum-based plastics. The result has been dubbed Arboform by its German inventors, and may well revolutionize the worlds of material science and mass production. Just like wood, it breaks down quickly and organically into eco-safe by-products like water and carbon dioxide. It is also made from a leftover part of trees that is unused during the paper-making process – over 100 million pounds of its main ingredient are created as a simple side-effect of the existing pulp industry.”
Read more:

PPS: I’ve also discovered lots of people not only making ALGAE bio-plastic but also bioplastic from chitin, the primary protein or something (I’m very scientific) in crab & beetle shells. Really fascinating – think of all the innovations we can make for the sake of science (and art) just by testing new forms of making bioplastic.

Intimate Science: a more intimate view

intimatescience20 intimatescience19 intimatescience16 intimatescience14 intimatescience12 intimatescience10 intimatescience9 intimatescience6 intimatescience5 intimatescience4 intimatescience3 intimatescience2 intimatescience1 An experiment in growing architectural structures from Ganoderma lucid, also known as Reishi or Ling Chi. The fungus is environmentally beneficial as well as a low cost substitute for wood, etc. Ross writes, “Mushrooms digest cellulose and transform it into chitin, the same material that insect shells are made from. The bricks have the feel of a composite material with a core of spongy cross-grained pulp that becomes progressively denser towards its outer skin. The skin itself is incredibly hard, shatter resistant, and can handle enormous amounts of compression. Shaping and cutting the bricks destroyed our files, rasps and saws.”

MY BLOG for more:

The Spaewife (Working Title)

As you all probably know by now, my model initially started off being much more complex: over 100,000 polygons, multiple complex forms that would have needed to be printed separately and put together, etc.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 14.51.23Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 14.53.19

What I am essentially trying to make is a seductive/enchanting OBJECT or vessel that can hold speakers or some sort of sound device within its semi-hollow form, with psychedelic projections on top of it (perhaps reacting to the sound). As a fine art student, I’m keen to make this 3D print a part of my artistic practice which utilises a lot of projection/film/sculptural work in order to create a personalised universe/mythology. So, essentially, an object that can help distort the space around it and re-fabricate a new reality.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 14.47.11

After realising that the original idea was too complex, I redid it in a simpler shape: the Chinese gourd, a plant/water holder/mythological object that I have been absolutely obsessed with since childhood. I made the original shape with Bezier Curves in NURBs, rotated it in 3D and then converted it to polygons. From there it was a relatively simple process of extruding faces/using the SculptGeometry tool and smoothing it (once).

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.47.39Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.59.55Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 16.18.11

The main problem started once I exported it as a .OBJ. I checked various sites like shapeways and and both were far too expensive for the size I wanted. Ideally, I want the object to be cast in transparent resin or at least some kind of translucent material, but the cost ranged into the thousands. The other problem was that some of the walls were way too thin on the tiny projections, which shapeways would attempt to help me “correct” but actually just made them look bulbous.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 17.07.30Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 17.08.51

Temporarily abandoning the idea of outsourcing my model, I brought it into the Parsons print people. After converting the model to a .STL file with Rhino, they checked the mesh with ZPrint and discovered what looked like a lot of holes.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 16.55.52

My model’s normals were also completely inverted when I viewed the model using the Makerware software so I just reversed all of those, which was easy…

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 13.14.59

The hard bit was trying to figure out where the “holes” were: they were actually horribly deformed polygons that I needed to fix but were really hard to see in Maya so I had to keep hunting for them and going into the model to see it from the inside. I think this is one of the main problems with working liberally with the SculptGeometry tool as you have little control over it and if you’re careless, it ends up extruding everywhere, creating little Siamese twins of your vertices.


Finally, after everything was approved, I went to pay and then to actually print my model in a Makerbot. The idea was to create a smaller model with the machine and then print a much bigger, hollow version using the Objet once I tested the model for glitches. However, I think everyone in our class was using the Makerbots or something and I knew there was no way I would have access before our next class. So I took a trip to our local Makerware store and shed out some premium dollars (cry goodbye forever my beautiful money) to get a model printed in white PLA, which would apparently take about 5 hours for about 4 and a half inches (25, 000 polygons).

3Dgourd3 3Dgourd1

 Then, when I finally got it printed and collected it, it had a billion supports. I advise all people to never try picking them off with your fingers because you’ll end up looking like you stabbed yourself accidentally with a needle. 50 times. Use pliers.

3Dgourd5 3Dgourd6


But in the end (3 hours later…) it looked pretty much exactly like my model. I’m not really sure how I feel about it because I think I might have sold my soul at the Makerbot store but probably from here I’m going to either try printing on the Objet or buying some translucent filament and printing it again at school. YAY!


The Spaewife II

My first model was way too complex with over 100,000 faces… smoothed one too many times, haha. And would also prove impossible to print with a million parts, so I decided to use the same sort of coral protrusions on a much simpler shape: the Chinese gourd, which has a lot of mythological connotations and is a shape/plant I am completely obsessed with.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 14.47.11 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.36.13 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.46.29 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.47.01 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.47.08 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.47.39 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.49.56 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.57.41 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.57.59 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.58.42 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.59.30 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 16.59.55

Modeled using NURBS > Bezier Curves > Rotate.
Then converted to polygons > face extrusions + sculptGEOMETRY tool + smoothing.

I also experimented with different colours/transparency as my ultimate model would be hollow and emit a translucent glow… perhaps consider outsourcing using transparent resin.


Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to end up being called Sputnik. But that was the first thing that came to mind

In reality it’s going to be a SEDUCTIVE SOUND OBJECT coinciding with my sound art + video editing classes with projection + sound coming out of the hollow in the mouth. Obviously this is probably overly ambitious and I’m having a lot of trouble with booleans (my entire model disappeared when I tried to connect things), but nevertheless the hole has been dug.

I started out with pretty ambiguous sketches:

New Doc 6sputnik

DOOP DOOP DOOP went my thought process.

Then I started using extruding/smoothing/sculptGEOMETRY on a polygon.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 19.14.59Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 14.53.19Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 14.51.23Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 14.50.41Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 18.46.55

The general idea is to make it look organic, growth-fungus-like, coral-like. Ultimately to be part of a projection-installation environment.




I guess I was kind of inspired by Chinese mythology – the deity Nezha, who is reborn from lotus parts in particular, and therefore thought of making a shrine or super machine godhead. Also the super-technology/automata imagery from Cloud Atlas.


I didn’t have too much technical difficulty in constructing this; it was mostly just polygon-modeling with a lot of rotating and extruding, a lot of smoothing… It’s probably not going to end up being anything like my final midterm project but I think it looks pretty cool.

lotusshrine9 lotusshrine8 lotusshrine7 lotusshrine6 lotusshrine5 lotusshrine4 lotusshrine3 lotusshrine2

I like cheese


Hi, I’m Joey; I’m a fine art exchange student from London and I once owned these ducklings from ducklinghood to adulthood and then one day one of the ducks flew over the wall and we couldn’t find it for ages. Then when I came back from math tuition one day on the same street there was this woman just crouching by her house, holding my duck by its neck and killed it right in front of my eyes. When we asked her where she got the duck from, she said the market… yeah… so we released the other ducks at the golf course.

That’s my traumatic experience that I’m sharing

I’m taking this class because I’m fascinated by the divide/crossover between art/science/technology and working with 3D printing and modeling and bio-materials and stuff. I’ve been doing some basic coding stuff with Chrome WebGL and experimented with ferrofluids in the past.

My website/blog: