The project developed during iAtelier: Prototyping of flexible moulds for felt shaping
With this project, Yolanda Sánchez aims to use 3D printing technologies to learn about new opportunities to handle this material and its possible applications in fashion, architecture, or interior design. Printing in 3D with flexible material allowed Yolanda to design a series of new tools that eases her work when she has to manipulate and shape felt manually.
The project investigates auxiliary tools in handmade felt modelling processes to improve aspects of the traditional methods used so far. The new method allows the design to be maintained. It creates a pattern that can be repeated as many times as desired and can be enlarged or reduced. Improves working comfort for the craftswoman
and craftsman. It greatly reduces working time. The application of these pieces is varied, depending on their sizes and scales. From textile jewellery, clothing and accessories, to their application in architecture and interior design.
– These tools are 3D printed with flexible filament that allows a more comfortable work to press with the fingers in the process of making the three-dimensional felt.
– Designing the tool with an air chamber or double wall allows the tool to be even more flexible and resistant.
– Holes on the surface of the tool allow soapy water to flow in and out easily in the process, reducing working time. The felting process is carried out simultaneously on the outside and inside the wool piece.
Check the video of iAtelier workshop here!
Meet the maker
I hold a postgraduate course and master’s degree in design and installation of exhibitions from the Complutense University of Madrid and a bachelor’s in arts from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of the Basque Country, being restoration my area of specialization. I have developed my career from 1990 to 2004 as curator and restorer of the historical-artistic heritage, and as courier and coordinator of exhibitions not only for national and international, but also to public and private organizations.
I started a new professional path inside the fine arts, craft creation and other multidisciplinary fields. I got specialized in the textile sector with a research and a production based on natural materials such as silk and wool.
At the same time, I was involved in processes and ecological and sustainable productions. I was participating in the recovery and revaluation of wool from local sheep breeds of the Cantabrian coast. I have created a new line of products under the name of “ardi-ko”. “Ardi-ko” is co-creation between local artisans and designers, regaining materials such as latxa and karrantzana wool from the Basque Country and it is the result of a peace-maker research project between craftwork and design.
Introducing in 2015 new technologies into my craft, has encouraged me to take part of the iAtelier program to be able to investigate the production of auxiliary tools to the processes of handmade wool shaping.
What interested you in the iAtelier programme and did it meet with your expectations?
iAtelier interested me for several reasons. First, we developed collaboratively something between crafts and technology. Although I was not able to form a group, I presented an interesting project worked out thanks to the support of Fundesarte and the approval of the production managers (Exarchitects and FabdeFab).
Second, I was excited to participate in an international crafting program, not only for its impact and personal development but also for the opportunity of developing my project.
The coexistence of the several projects helped us to improve and expand our view point regarding materials, techniques, proposals and concerns as well as to share solutions and information.
It would like to mention the wide range of ages between all the participants in the 5 projects, showing that interest in new technologies should neither have age barriers nor be exclusive for the younger generations.
I am satisfied and grateful for this opportunity. It is difficult to find initiatives like iAtelier where artisans can have financial support to develop projects with new technologies.
How will participating in iAtelier influence your future practice?
My project had a double difficulty, for one hand I needed to be the product designer and at the same time the handicraftswoman specialized in wool felt.
In a short period of time, I had to learn to use the 3D Rhinoceros program to develop the design and be able to produce it with the 3D printer and with the CNC.
It has been a very intense learning period and with the added difficulty of the material chosen for this project: flexible materials. The search for information and materials suitable and compatible with printers to finally produce the desired objects.
I now feel able to continue researching and making auxiliary tools with new technologies to improve performance and comfort in the work process. Nobody better than the craftsman knows the need for a tool that is not on the market, that we cannot buy. With the new technologies and the knowledge acquired we can do them. Also, incorporate these new technologies into our daily work. They help us in work processes as another tool to have in the workshop. I believe that authentic crafts can continue to be produced with the help of this new technology.
Craftsmanship and new technologies have many things in common. At the same time, they are so different that they are hopelessly attracted each other.
My 5 top tips that I have learnt on this journey:
1. Not everything comes out the first time. We always think that thanks to these advanced machines, the task should come out perfect the first time. After I had my designs ready for production the headaches started. The chosen material (flexible filament) has a high difficulty involved because a large number of factors can cause the part not to turn out well. Imagine my face after I found a tangle of filament or the layers were not attached properly or the piece opens like a tangerine or the applied fillers were excessive and the piece lost its elasticity, when I happily approached to the printer that was working all night.
2. The design has to be thought and carried out from the beginning, adapted to solve the problems and needs that we want to solve. We also have to take into account the material which we are going to work with.
3. Teamwork is important, if one of the two parties fails, this affects the results. It is important to have a specialist who works directly with the machinery if I produce my work in a Fab Lab. Good communication is significant so that designs are interpreted and carried out in the simplest and most economical way in terms of material resources. Good information and communication with the person in charge of handling the machinery can change the design and even improve it.
4. Machines do not do things alone. They execute the orders that we give to them. Behind that machine, there is a person with a lot of technical and material knowledge, as well as hours of practice and continuous training (as in crafts).
5. Assuming, the process alone has not been easy. Persistence, not being scared to learn and being able to face new things, and above all believing in my project have made it come true.