Saturday, January 30, 2010

Materials- What is Material?

I figured it would be helpful to brainstorm about some materials and what materials means to me and what it means to our culture as well as types of Materials.

Wikipedia states that Material is:

"Material is synonymous with substance, and is anything made of matter – hydrogen, air and water are all examples of materials. Sometimes the term "material" is used more narrowly to refer to substances or components with certain physical properties that are used as inputs to production or manufacturing. In this sense, materials are the parts required to make something else, from
buildings and art to stars and computers.
A material can be anything: a finished product in its own right or an unprocessed raw material. Raw materials are first extracted or harvested from the earth and divided into a form that can be easily transported and stored, then processed to produce semi
-finished materials. These can be input into a new cycle of production and finishing processes to create finished materials, ready for distribution, construction, and consumption.An example of a raw material is cotton, which is harvested from plants. Cotton can be processed into thread (also considered a raw material), which can then be woven into cloth, a semi-finished material. Cutting and sewing the fabric turns it into a garment, which is a finished product. Steelmaking is another example – raw materials in the form of ore are mined, refined and processed into steel, a semi-finished material. Steel is then used as an input in many other industries to make finished products. In chemistry materials can be divided into metals and non-metals."

I think for the Materials course I am taking they are focusing more on raw materials. For example, the first project focuses on the use of raw materials from animals, plants and miner
als. I want to focus on the types of these raw materials that I could make myself, so there is a consideration of my technical ability, and also cost. From the little research I have done, they do not cost very much, however; I would love if most of my materials could be found around the home. It sounds weird I guess, but, I have been brainstorming a list of possible in house natural materials (dog fur, human hair, spider webs). I like art to fit within my budget and I usually assign a project a certain budget to follow (with my finances and also to make it more realistic in the terms of being able to be remade and possibly sold). Profit margins have always interested me, I work in retail so I hear about them a lot, so I like to keep in mind how much stuff costs vs. how much it could be sold for.

I was shopping around for materials I could use last night like roving made from silk worms, bamboo, sheep, alpaca, camel (to
the left, look at those pretty natural colors!) and the word "fiber" arts kept coming up. I have heard this word sooooo much, but honestly, I never looked into its meaning. So, again using wikipedia (I know they are not an authority, but I find their definitions to be less wordy and more understandable then other places) Fibers are:

"Fiber, also spelled fibre, is a class of materials that are continuous filaments or are in discrete elongated pieces, similar to lengths of thread. They are very important in the biology of both plants and animals, for holding tissues together. Human uses for fibers are diverse. They can be spun into filaments, string or rope, used as a component of composite materials, or matted into sheets to make products such as paper or felt. Fibers are often used in the manufacture of other materials. Synthetic fibers can be produced very cheaply and in large amounts compared to
natural fibers, but natural fibers enjoy some benefits, such as comfort, over their man-made counterparts."

As for minerals, I looked up a definition in class the other day. For those that missed it minerals are classified as:

"A mineral is a naturally occurring solid formed through geological processes that has a characteristic chemical composition, a highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. A rock, by comparison, is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids, and need not have a specific chemical composition. Minerals range in composition from pure elements and simple salts to very complex silicates with thousands of known forms.[1] The study of minerals is called mineralogy."

I think I will list these as my "carve-ables" in my project. They are hard, geological forms that I think would be good to investigate.