Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Creating Disk Hangings.

Little did I know the difficulties before me when I decided to create large disk hangings.

The idea was to create disk designs based on the size of the back of a tanker, with designs of the many contents I had discovered on my travels - hazardous waste, oil, flour to make Cornish Pasties, milk, acid, bitumen, and I was delighted to find that tankers carry liquid chocolate – pouring out as a silk design, tumbling to the ground and pooling over the floor. These are now approximately 5 ft across with 3 or 4 m trails.

My first issue was how to create such a large piece. How much space do I have at my show? I decided I had to lower my sights and create smaller pieces than I had initially wanted. But that was the least of my concerns.

My mission was to create the large disk piece and the ‘trail’ all in one print. This was much too large to be screen printed, unless I created the design in sections. Or I could paint the piece. But as I wanted to master digital printing, this seemed to be the most challenging and hopefully successful option.

Firstly, I have been bound by my technical ignorance

The files were enormous. At college, there was a file size maximum of 80 mb.for the digital fabric printer.  Mine were much larger than this. (over 400 mb). To ‘make them fit’, I reduced the resolution and size thinking I could send them as smaller files and that they could be ‘blown up’ in situ. Alas, once reduced the resolution could never be regained. All of my work was wasted. I would have to do it all again.

My computer crashed with the large files. The designs corrupted and became irretrievable. Was I any closer to realising my desire? Despair set in. I felt like giving up. It seemed so simple but was difficult at every stage.

During my 'making' trials I discovered so many difficulties.  It was incredibly hard to simply sew a seam around a circle.  Thankfully Di has shown me how.  I am absolutely sold on the industrial sewing machine.  It is so easy to sew a controlled seam with.  (unlike my Bernina which is so difficult to control).

Eventually, I sent my huge designs, samples really, to The Silk Bureau (who has no size limit), to see what they would do with the designs. I had decided to take a sample slice from the disks but having had so much trouble, I decided to ‘go for it’ and send the complete disks. After all, it was only money!!  The designs were too large for a CD or a DVD.  I managed to clean off a 4GB memory stick and sent that along with a CD of repeat fabric samples.

And still I have not worked out how to get the design for the trail incorporated into the disk design.

Another problem I have had is with my ‘scale’ designs mentioned earlier.  I put a sketch of the back of a tanker through Live Trace, Inked Drawing in Illustrator and attempted to blow that up into a 50 inch disk. The exciting thing for me was that apparently the software reconfigures the image when it is expanded over a certain size. This elusive image seems to revert if I work on it at all. I find this difficult to understand. Surely any image acquired must be stable. The more difficult the image was to hold on to, the more I wanted to print it. Frustrating! So frustrating. Just when I thought I had captured the image it would disappear and revert to an Inked Drawing image. Does this mean that the image I have, the one I want to print is so elusive that it would not normally be seen. Most projects would not want to create a design of such a size. This seems to fit in so well with my project which is all about scale – the scale of the tanker.  I am thinking of an immediate error.  I did not draw a circular line around the design which has a broken edge.  As I will have to add a strip of fabric around the disk, it is going to be difficult for me to establish an absolute circle.

The fabric has been crucial. Which fabric? Any silk is see through. Once I have the actual size of the silk disks, I will have disks made out of iron bar. This seems to fit in really well with the fact that the tankers are made out of steel. I don’t mind the metal showing through the silk disks.

I also have two 6 ft. disks made out of layered ply. These are 5 inches deep. Luckily one disk is divided into two pieces, thus enabling me to print this in two pieces which will fit on to the 54 inch wide fabric. The second disk is over 58 inches wide, too wide for the maximum width fabric. This disk will have to be screen printed and painted on something like cotton sheeting.

Once I have a disk printed with its trail, I then have to face the problem of how to fix the fabric to the hoops. Will the trail pull the disk fabric down if it comes from the centre of the disk? Will they work as art objects?  I thought elastic was excellent.  It allows for easy removal for cleaning.  However, it would not create a beautiful finish to an art work.

Firstly, I must see what the experienced Silk Bureau can do with the images. Once I know that, I can carry on if all is O.K.

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