Monday, June 17, 2013

Thinking Aloud - Engines

Centaurus Engine cropped
Tidying up all my folders etc now the diploma course is finished means I have been rediscovering images and notes I haven’t looked at for a while,  which is useful as I need new work for an exhibition at Bristol Guild in October.  At the moment, I am playing with ideas inspired by photographs of aircraft engines taken in 2006 at the Industrial Museum in Bristol (now re-opened as M-Shed).  This is part of a Bristol Centaurus, an engine developed in the late 1930s.  I have reached the stage of having a file full of samples and notes scribbled on scraps of paper, so I am hoping writing a blog post will get it organised for me so I can see what I am doing.
My initial thought was just a small piece to use this background (from an earlier post) with some digitised stitching, but I soon found I was thinking bigger.
Essay images (7)
I simplified the image and printed it out a couple of times at different sizes across multiple sheets of sheets of A4 using the online tool Blockposters as an easy way of enlarging it – I find it helps to see the impact at various sizes laid out on the floor before making a decision.
Next, I took a part of the photograph and converted it to a stitch file.  I had an image in my mind of a sort of stitched screenprint looking quite crisp on top of the looser (messier) grid and printed background.  I took a number of photos while it was in progress as the half completed underlay is also interesting, and this led me to some more playing and sampling with different stitch densities, colours and sizes (not that you an really judge that in the photos).  I used a piece of canvas painted roughly with acrylics as I had used my only sample of printed fabric.  I also did a couple of mock ups with the printed backgound at different sizes.
Centaurus Engine  Design Trials (2)Centaurus Engine on Grungy Background
I stopped at this point because I needed to sort out what I am doing.  The questions to be resolved are 1) printed background or painted canvas and 2) size.  I really like the look of the image printed big – about 80cm wide – and with the proportions of image to background as in the photo above (it is about 1:1.41)  but if I use digitised stitching, I am going to have to split the design into probably 24 sections and take great care lining them up.  My latest sample (no picture as it is still in the machine) is with the image at just under 40cm wide, which works out as splitting into 8 parts.  The final choice of stitch density and whether to leave some parts with the underlay showing will also make a huge difference in the stitch count and therefore how long it all takes.  Free machining is another option; I haven’t tried a sample, but I don’t think it will give me the crispness I am after.  I also thought about printing the engine design as well as the background and overstitching, but then I wouldn’t be able to have the grid underneath
I also have lots of variations floating around my head – different colour schemes; layering on sheers (remembering these design ideas from 2009); colour splitting and letting the colours slide; a series of fragments as small mounted pieces or as another way of making one large piece.  Decisions, decisions.
Postscript – thinking aloud has helped.  Since I typed this yesterday (Sunday) I have decided to make one version at 40cm wide on a printed background and have ordered enough fabric to either a) make the bigger version as well or b) recover the seat of my bench (which is what I originally intended to use the design for and the reason I had a sample, only I hadn’t got round to actually doing it).  It will take a couple of weeks to arrive, so I can finish sampling, make sure I have enough thread and maybe play with some of the other ideas as well.  All of a sudden, October doesn’t seem very far off.