Artist commission – UK
London-based harpist and singer-songwriter Serafina Steer, who has worked with artists such as Jarvis Cocker and Bat for Lashes, wanted hand-finished typography to be featured in the music video for her single Disco Compilation. She asked for the word tonight – which features highly in the song – mounted on a shell. It needed to appear translucent, have movement and reflect the ’80s nightclub theme of the music video.
There were many materials that could achieve the look the client wanted – such as resin, jelly and ice. We settled upon the idea of building a silicon mold so we could try different ideas and see what worked best, as well as giving the client a product they could reuse endlessly in promoting the single.
After listening to the track, Type Design sketched a design drawing on inspiration as diverse as ’80s neon signs, retro sweets and the clam shell found in Botticelli’s famous The Birth of Venus.
Once the client approved the lock-up, we began sculpting a scale model in clay and wood. Scale was crucial, as materials such as ice, if cast too small, would melt quickly, leaving inadequate time to light and film the result.
We made the silicone mold by building a layer of silicone around the scale model, then adding plaster casing to keep the silicon in place. The model was then painstakingly removed from the silicon.
We experimented with different materials, and jelly was used in the final video, these pictures show a version of the model made of ice.
We tried a range of colours by mixing water and different food dyes, before arriving at a Mediterranean blue that harked back to The Birth of Venus inspiration for the clam shell. Applying heat liquefies the surface of ice, so it gleams and can be smoothed and manipulated.
It was key to have light shining through the letters to give the appearance of their being lit from within. We played around with a few ideas, including a disco light. The final choice involved a rig of two 4K lights on stands – it was actually lighting from the side that gave the appearance of light coming from inside. This look was filmed and then edited into the final music video.
Silicone molds are a great way to build hand-finished typography. This food-safe material is stable at high heat and lends itself to a range of applications.