Studies in Foam

I spent time last week testing out ways to secure layers of foam board insulation to find the best way to build my large installation piece. Our material of choice? Spray foam insulation in a can.

We started out by cutting smaller pieces of 2″ thick foam board to test how multiple layers could be fastened together. We did a few tests, varying factors such as how much foam to spray, how to spread the foam to all of the edges, curing the foam by spraying water, and how to clamp the pieces. The entire process was reminiscent of frosting a layered cake. The can of spray foam did not specify how long it takes to fully cure, but it did say that the excess foam could be trimmed after one hour. I left the pieces for a full day, and the results were less than ideal: even with clamping the pieces together, the foam expanded unevenly and the pieces were not level – I believe the scientific term for the visual results is “wonky.”

This was a great example of why you shouldn’t use a new material without testing it first. If I waited until I got my final CNC’d pieces back to try this method, it would’ve been an expensive mistake. Our next material experiments will still utilize the spray foam, but we’re going to change the method of application and clamping and see how it goes – failures are part of the journey!

Featured Image: Jill Sibio, 2019

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