Material choices for final project

I’m at the stage where I’m thinking about my final piece, and how to bring all of my ideas together into one design. I’ve decided to make a wall mounted light ‘box’, using colour changing LEDs to light it from within. The feedback at the February formative assessment point was that I should consider making the story more prominent, so I’ve decided to have the light box engraved on the outside. I’ve been thinking about a new design, incorporating a number of net/filling patterns.

I’ve also been thinking about material choices for the box itself. I want to celebrate local craftsmanship, so the outer box will be in wood, probably a pale wood ply.

The front will be frosted Perspex, not polypropylene. Perspex is more rigid and gives a smoother finish. Engrave isn’t quite so deep but the perspex makes more sense for a large piece. I think I’ll continue to trial the flexible polypropylene for other lights once the MA is over. I have found a recycled (and recyclable) Perspex supplier in Nottingham. Perspex keeps the weight down and is safe to laser engrave to I can continue the pattern onto the front.

LED light strips with laser cut lace design will go behind the frosted perspex

Inside the lace will be made using my usual technique, using rayon thread here. This is the most sustainable choice for embroidery, there isn’t a thread more sustainable than this. In some way’s Rayon thread is still problematic, the use of chemical dyes to colour it and it’s a water intensive process. Cotton thread production is impactful, plus it isn’t kind to my machines, creating more dust and fibre, which impacts in terms of service and longevity. Both rayon and cotton threads are degradable, leaving no eventual residue.

Rayon is great for embroidery as it runs through the machine well, has a super sheen and comes in the most colours. The shine is maintained after laundering and I find it’s softer than polyester embroidery. The only drawback is that I can’t choose phosphorescent thread if I avoid polyester. So I won’t have a glow in the dark element, although I could use a UV dark-light to get white thread to glow… I’ll also use paper and thin card for the laser cut items, which can be recycled or composted at the end of life.

The LEDs will be run inside the box, probably stuck onto foamboard (biodegradable). The foamboard means I can use pins to attach the lace and laser items to the box.