Monday, August 22, 2011

Thermochromic Pasteur

Louis Pasteur - thermochromic edition

I made a second edition of my Louis Pasteur block print. You may recall I made a portrait of Louis Pasteur for a Mad Scientists of Etsy challenge. Though his work was extensive in a variety of fields, I chose to depict him as I see him; a man who saw bacteria in his environment and developed a means of protecting people from this ambient menace. The image is based on a photograph of Pasteur and the background, of course depicts various morphologies of bacteria. I don't know anything in particular really, about bacteria, but morphologies I can understand. Plus, I like his face. You can see his concern in his eyes. And he sticks his glasses in a button-hole in his coat- a interesting touch. Suggests he is thinking about other things. The lino block print is a 2nd edition of nine (some variability in mixed colours) in dark blue and turquoise thermochromic ink on 9 inch by 12 inch (23 cm by 31 cm) Japanese kozo paper.

Thermochromic ink changes colour with temperature. If you heat the print above about 30 C ( 86 F) the turquoise bacteria go white and disappear. It's like a metaphor for pasteurization. Consider these two side by side prints:

two thermochromic Pasteur prints BEFORE

Look what happens if I apply heat to either one (with the help of a hair dryer):

two thermochromic Pasteur prints AFTER
two thermochromic Pasteur prints AFTER

The heat makes the bacteria disappear!

I've been thinking about 'smart' materials and using my scientific background to make more interactive, time-varying art. This is my first venture into this area. I've been doing some research about what is out there. There are a lot of interesting inks and textiles, but often they are only really sold on an industrial scale. To make this print, I purchased a small about of thermochromic powder and - after some experimentation - mixed it with block printing medium, or ink extender.

No comments: