The Art-in-Science Project, sponsored by the University City Science Center in Philadelphia in l977, enabled me to work at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, where I experimented with tension dynamics in self-enclosing three-dimensional fabric forms.
The shells & tubular structures were constructed of flat fabric segments sewn together on an overlock machine to form a continuous membrane surface, allowing tension to circulate in the round. In these shapes seams are a structural skeleton: used either to confine tension between two seams which, by compressing the fabric between them pull on the adjoining segments forcing them to expand, or disperse tension from the points of pull into several directions. In self-enclosing forms the filler membranes account for the volumetric expression of the shell. Thus when tension is increased or relaxed at any one point, it affects seamingly unrelated areas--tension in the round behaving like a liquid.
Note: In shells and tubular structures, as
soon as tension is introduced, one no longer works with a responding
membrane but with the forces acting upon it. By manipulating tension
flows, one assists tension in shaping the membrane--tension a silent
partner. Being a force, tension does not err. And as the fabric
responds as it must, when the results are disappointing, it is an
indication that the arranged conditions are at fault.
See Points to Check in Installing Fabric Panels.
Several kinds of self-enclosing membrane structures were developed:
Shells in parallel pull + cutting patterns:
Shells in diagonal pull + cutting patterns:
Tubular & bone structures + cutting patterns:
Cutting patterns of Minimal Surfaces 1986
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