Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Filography: Beautiful String Art from the '70s

In my spring cleaning quest I have come upon another book that was hidden away up in the attic. When I was growing up in the 1970s and '80s, my dad always had some sort of in-depth project going, whether it was putting together an intricate model of an old race car or building a telescope. But I also seem to recall him doing "string art" at least once, because I remember him teaching me how to recreate the same effect using lines on paper. So when I uncovered this book, The Beautiful String Art Book: 100 Projects You Can Create, written by Raymond Gautard in 1978, I couldn't help but spend the rest of my allotted cleaning time leafing through it. The book not only features geometric "filography" designs (betcha didn't know there was even a term for string art...neither did I!), but pictures that can be made, like butterflies and even the Eiffel Tower. And it includes detailed instructions and diagrams. Here are some highlights.

The attic is so messy that I can't even get to my stash of childhood artwork right now, so I couldn't find the filography drawings I did as a kid in time for this post, but I decided to do a quick version in Illustrator, to show how easy it is to do two-dimensional versions on paper, or virtual paper in this case. No string or nails necessary!

First, to make a basic curve, place dots down a vertical imaginary line, equidistant from each other. Here I placed them 1/4" from each other. Group them, then Copy and Paste and rotate 90 degrees so the copied dots are now horizontal. Place them at the bottom, 1/4" below and 1/4" to the right of the bottom-most vertical dot. So now you have vertical and horizontal axes. Next, you can either physically number the dots as shown, or just imagine they're numbered as such. With a line, connect the #1 dot on the vertical axis to the #1 dot on the horizontal axis, then connect the #2 dot on the vertical axis to the #2 dot on the horizontal axis, etc.

Once you have connected all the dot pairs with straight lines, you will have a curve! (Looks very Space Agey, doesn't it? Kind of like those '80s video game matrices... And didn't they use something like that for "Friday Night Videos"? Sorry, I got sidetracked there...)

Group all of the dots and lines together. Copy and paste the group three times. Rotate one of the pasted groups 90 degrees, rotate another 180 degrees, and rotate the last 270 degrees (or -90 degrees). Place them on top of each other so they form a square.

Now you can colorize each grouping, or even each line, however you wish.

Copy and paste and rotate as much as you like, and play around with all sorts of patterns.

Even size them, big or small!

Do you think you might try this? If you do, send me a photo!

Incidentally, when I tried to find if the book is still available out there, I found some copies on Amazon, new and used. Used copies are pretty pricey, and don't even look at the price of the original copies in new condition! You can also find similarly-priced used copies on AbeBooks (great resource!), along with a couple other related vintage string art books.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hearts of Many Colors

I found this simple yet lovely set of watercolor hearts, done by Kathy Barbro for her blog Art Projects for Kids. It reminds me of pop art of the '80s. All you really need is a heart to send your Valentine's message! Enjoy the day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Found Vintage Book: Pattern and Design (1948)

Whenever I have a few minutes of "free time" this winter, I've been trying to get a jump start on spring cleaning. Included in this task each year is organizing the bookshelves. Over the weekend I stopped and looked through a book I've had for a long time called Pattern and Design, by N.I. Cannon. It was published in London in 1948 and includes over 200 illustrations, some on lovely color plates. Most of the book details how to make patterns from subjects in nature. Here are some of the color illustrations, many done by students.

Incidentally, the book appears to have been republished in the last couple of years and is available on Amazon. While the new cover is missing its vintage appeal, the interior may still be as lovely.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Letters of L-O-V-E (a.k.a., Love Letters)

It's been awhile since I've entered a Spoonflower Fabric-of-the-Week contest. I've had to sort of pick and choose my "battles", with sickness in the family usually winning this past month. But I've also been busy with some personal projects, Etsy orders, and revamping my website (more on that in the coming weeks!).

This week's Spoonflower contest theme, in celebration of Valentine's Day, is "Love Letters". I had two completely different ideas in my head--sketched out and researched one, but ultimately decided to go really literal, using the letters in the word 'LOVE'. All of us have probably done cut-out magazine collages at some point, right? Or at least seen ransom notes made on TV crime shows. So I cut out L's, O's, V's, and E's from one magazine, had a nice little pile going, but after some thought realized I would need to buy many more magazines in order to get a nice variety. Conclusion? Go digital. In Illustrator I created each cut letter piece, added color to each individually, then made a "whole lotta LOVEs", and organized and fit them into a design. I did three additional color ways for now: one in black-and-white, one in the style of a Xerox photocopy, and one inverted with red.

You can view the pattern in yardage here. If you like my design, you can vote for it, and all your favorite "Love Letters" designs, here. Thank you!

Monday, February 4, 2013

It's Thank Your Mailman Day: A Preview of 2013 US Postage Stamps

It really is "Thank Your Mailman Day" today, so I thought we could celebrate by taking a peek at the new stamps that will be issued this year by the United States Postal Service. These are just a few that stood out for me, but you can view them all at the USA Philatelic "Beyond the Perf" website. Some designs won't be released until later in the year; buy those available now here, or keep an eye on the ones you like by following USPS Stamps on Facebook. Which one is your favorite?

Emancipation Proclamation, designed by Gail Anderson

Sealed with Love, designed by renowned letterer Louise Fili

Just Move!, designed by Eli Noyes

Kaleidoscope Flowers, designed by Petra and Nicole Kapitza [LOVE!!!]

Johnny Cash, designed by Greg Breeding, and made to look like a 45rpm record picture sleeve
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