14 Mar 17

After researching on model making, I experimented with styrofoam as it was most accessible in the workshop,

Firstly, I printed a photo of the White House making sure that it is at a familiar angle. I chose the White House because it is a building which everyone is familiar in which would make the audience recognise it instantly. After analysing the structure of the building, I realised that there are many exterior corners like this. 

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This makes the building look fancy, hence, I needed this element so that it will not look 'too straight' and plain. However, in the same time, I did not want this piece to look too elaborate and make it as minimal as I can. To create these different sections, the only method I could think of is to split the main structure into two inserting a narrower and bigger piece in between. 

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At first I thought that the measurements were needed but since this is just a practice, I worked with my instinct. I realised towards the end that having measurements and planning out properly is very important because it helps me getting the right proportions. Using the scrap that was available, I first carved out the size of the entire building then only I will start slicing and creating the little bits that needs to be added. Again, I am working with heat and as usual I was very hesitant at first but I got used to it as I continued. The right angle ruler that was part of the machine helped me in terms of cutting it straight but it wasn't easy to use because it did not move smoothly. Maybe this is due to the fact that the metal was rusty or something else I probably wasn't sure of. 

Making the thin slices was not hard because I simply use the block and slowly move it through the hot wire. Due to its size, I could hold it steadily. However, I had to move fast enough so that the wire does not stay in one position which can cause a hole on the styrofoam. The hardest part to cut was at the roof area where I had to slice it in an angle. There was no right way to do this properly, maybe there is but I just did not know about it (need to ask technician for this), so I freely cut it however I wanted to. Not realising how many times I did it, it became bumpy.

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When every platform was done, I decided to cover it with paper to make it seem more realistic. I realised that it did not look like the actual building due to my lack of instinct skills. Working with small measurements whilst using heat is very challenging for me which causes me to be very hesitant while working. 

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Covering the styrofoam using card and PVA glue, I made sure the glue was smooth by scraping any excess off using a flat surface. So that when the paper is attached, there is no bumps whilst smoothing it out. I did not want the styrofoam area to be expose so I covered the whole piece as much as I could by using one sheet. For the sides, I used a different sheet to attach it resulting an exposure at the edges

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I continued covering each piece and it started to look like one of the buildings in China, like the Forbidden City. Obviously this is due to the fact that it was not planned very well beforehand. When I was working on the thin pieces, I had to extra cautious because it was very fragile while gluing it together. Luckily, none of the pieces broke. 

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When creating the windows, I used cardboard to act as a frame. I chose cardboard because I wanted to continue with using raw materials. I did not want to create separate pieces to attach onto each side as the cardboard would be visible. I had an idea of attaching the paper onto the cardboard and crossing an X in the hole which I will then fold it over covering each side and cutting off any excess. For the 'view', I printed photos of curtains which is then pasted at the bark and attached it onto the building where it needs to be. The size was clearly not proportional but it was the smallest I could work with in that size. When folding the paper, it created soft edges which is not what I hoped for as windows have hard corners.

For the balcony, again working with small elements, which is not what I am good at, I decided to print a photo of the balcony from the actual White House and pasted it against a cardboard to give it a solid base. Balconies have gaps in between which I clearly do not have. There was no easy way to do this unless I work with bigger proportions. I thought of ways to create this section properly but it was too complex. 

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Thoughts : 

 Clearly, this did not work well because I did not plan it beforehand which made the proportions messed up. I also should have made my piece bigger so that when I am working with smaller elements, it is not too small to work with. Other than that, styrofoam is hard to work with. Model making requires the user to work slowly, and cautiously in which working with heat did not help me in that. I had to work fast when using the styrofoam cutter because if I leave it on in one position for too long, it will create a big hole. The cutter itself was not very good which affected my work. The right angle ruler was too rusty making it hard to move left and right freely which effected my measurements. Sometimes while trying to slice the styrofoam, it pushes the metal rod to the side causing it not to cut in a straight line (photo below). This was due to the fact I was working too fast. However in the same time, I couldn't take my time (as mentioned earlier), so I had to balance my speed well to avoid any mistakes.

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Other than the use of the cutter, the surface was rough and it did not work well with paper, especially when gluing them together. Sometimes, after cutting the styrofoam, leftover bits are visible but it can be fixed easily by sanding it using sand paper. However, what if I am working with thin areas? This would be very tough as it can easily break into pieces (left photo). The photo on the right shows how if the glue is not smoothen, it will cause bumpiness on the piece which will create gaps when attaching it with another block. In conclusion, styrofoam is definitely not the material to work with. 

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