New Things and a Change of Mind

After continually working on developing my blind embossing and my film I needed a change of pace, at least for a little while. I started doing more research on urban voids in Dundee to see if I could come across something that I had not before. After finding my way onto the governments website a found a file that is very relative to my project, a map of Dundee that highlights the cities derelict and vacant land.

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At first I was a little frustrated about not finding this map sooner due to having to scour the city myself to find these bare areas of land. However after thinking about it, I am glad I did not have this map. Finding the land by myself was a big part of my process and my concept, I was looking for and uncovering what I and other members of the public usually ignore. Being told where it is took away the challenge of finding the land for myself and noticing the unnoticed. It was difficult when I set out as I often did not know where to start but it made it even more spectacular when discovering this forgotten land.

I did want to use this map though as I could not ignore it relevance to my project. I decided to use the map as a template and mark out the shape of Dundee along with the empty land it holds. I decided to laser cut this design onto mdf and turn it into a blind embossing, just like my framed prints. I love the marks made and it really shows the abundance of forgotten land in a fairly small city which does not just lie in the poorer districts, but all over Dundee. The sites that I chose to look at when making my series of urban void blind embossing are also from all around Dundee and I will show this when displaying them in geographical order, highlighting that even those living in affluent areas can forget about their empty land.

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After framing my aforementioned urban voids blind embossing, I was unsure on the colour of the molding. I had opted for natural wood but, when imagining my completely white space, I felt like natural wood but stick out too much and the viewer would be concentrating on the frame rather than the print. To solve this, I framed another print using off-white paint so as not to make the print look less white to compare against the natural wood frame. I found this to be a lot more successful and tested how the frame would look against a shaving foam covered wall. I feel like you can see the frame enough to know it is not trying to blend into the space and it will still draw people in to see what is inside the frame. I just have to work out how to properly photograph my framed prints without glare and to get the detail from the embossing.

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I have also been considering what to do with my digital drawings of urban voids that I used to create my blind embossing. I wanted to develop these images as I enjoy the aesthetic of them and was interested in where I could take them. I printed these images on acetate and decided it would be interesting to see how these would look as screen prints on canvas. All white screen prints are very hard to make as they are difficult to see, as I found out at the start of 4th year. to solve this I mixed burnt umber with white ink to create an off-white colour that still keeps in with the same white tones but is visible. I created one print on canvas and left it as is, and printed one more which I then sprinkled dried shaving foam that I scraped off from my studio wall (you can find out more about this technique here https://laurendailly12.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/foam-canvas-development/). My plan is to screen print all of my urban void images and perhaps try to sell these at the degree show.

After researching the jute mills that once stood at the site of my fashion film, I decided to research what used to be at the land of my other urban voids in the same era. I was surprised to see how many of these areas were home to jute and textile mills, while some held no buildings at all.

I printed the maps from the 1900s onto jute to bring the history of this land alive and to fill the urban void.

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After hanging my foam canvases on top of the jute I wanted to find a way to relate the two textures together. I have always loved the swirling shape that shaving foam creates when directly sprayed out of a can, so I decided to mimic this shape with jute. The completely different materials are made strangely alike by creating a relationship between the two through form.

I decided to try this out with the previously printed jute as well to see how this would alter the relationship. I love how the material bares the image void while the white shaving foam creates the feeling of the void, both of which join together to produce the concept of my degree show. The history of the void will be uncovered.

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Blind Embossing Development and Framing

While developing other aspects of my work, I felt as though I had been neglecting my blind embossing. My tutor encouraged me to keep pursuing this technique as he loves the idea I put forward of drawing my audience in close to uncover the urban void. I love that these prints seem like they are just blank pieces of paper but on closer inspection, they are detailed embossings of empty land in Dundee. For now, I just have the one print of the land at the Stack Lesuire Park in Lochee that is also the setting for my fashion film. I have been working with the photographs I have taken of different urban voids in Dundee to make more blind embossings of the different urban voids in Dundee. This is a long process, 10 hours on the laser cutter for each image, but I have found it very rewarding. I hope to turn at least 4 of these digital drawings into blind embossings.

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I took part in a framing workshop in uni to see how successful the blind embossing would be when framed. I enjoy the idea of it seeming although I am framing blank pieces of paper to make the audience come in closer and see what they would usually ignore. I framed my embossing on the Stack Leisure Park shown here and below ( https://laurendailly12.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/blind-embossing-development/), as before I started creating new embossings I wanted to know if they could successfully fit into my degree show.

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What took the most time was deciding on the best way to frame my print to get the most out of it. I decided against float mounting it as the colours of the mounts took away the whiteness of the image. As this is an embossing, the print already has a border around it which actually gave the print its own mount so I decided to just frame the print as is. I opted for natural coloured wood so as again not to take away from the brightness of the image and used a colourless wax on this. The slips were painted white to coincide with the white print and give a lovely finish.

Alan and Malcolm in the wood workshop were amazing help especially because my print is so big, just larger than A1. It was so amazing to create the frame yourself, it becomes part of the art process and gives you full choice in the display of your work. It is also a fraction of the price. I feel like the prints will be successful in their frames and plan on making 4 more, each containing blind embossing of different urban voids in Dundee.

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Unfortunately the frame and the print do not photograph very well due to the lightness of the paper and the reflection of the glass but I’ve included an image to give you an idea of how it looks. My plan is to have a collection of framed Dundee urban void embossings. I have imagined these being displayed in geographical order, dotted around the gallery wall in relation to where they are in Dundee. I will try this out once I have made more of these embossings to see how successful this presentation will be. The deadline is creeping closer and I seem to finally be finishing some work! Keep your eyes peeled for more completed prints soon!

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Blind Embossing Development

I have been working hard on developing my blind embossing from my previous post (https://laurendailly12.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/barely-there-prints) to make them larger and more enticing. After researching urban voids in Dundee, I came across an area of empty land that once played host to a jute mill at the Stack Leisure Park, Lochee. I used this site for my fashion film but I also wanted to show the importance of this site to my concept by using it in other aspects of my work. The striking gate that stands alone on this land adds to the emptiness this area brings in striking opposition to the bustling shops that lie adjacent. I wanted to incorporate this gate into my ‘barely-there’ prints on a larger scale.

As shown in my previous post, I started out making my embossing by using a photo plate. However, this technique limited the size of my print as the exposure unit itself was not very large. I decided to pop into the MakeLab at DJCAD and ask the amazing staff there if they knew how I could create a blind embossing on a larger scale. I was encouraged to use their laser cutter to engrave mdf and put this through the press with paper. I sourced an A1 board of mdf but due to the size and the detail of the image it was not going to be a quick affair. After multiple days on the laser cutter I finally got the depth of the cutting correct which resulted in a 10 hour session.

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After the laser cutting was complete, I put the board through the press in the print making workshop with dampened Fabriano paper. The softness of this paper works well with embossing, something I discovered last semester after trying out many different types.

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Here is a sneak peak at one of the prints, unfortunately they do not photograph very well but I believe in person they are quite striking. I will still need to work on lighting the print to get the full effect of the drawing and I may scale the print up again.

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When thinking about how I will display my print, I considered projecting a video, perhaps my fashion film, onto it which would display my models directly onto the site. However, after a discussion with a tutor I felt as if the prints were strong enough on their own and did not need the projection. I did not want to try and make one piece of work say everything.

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So with the end of first semester here, I am excited to continue developing my ‘barely-there’ prints to encourage viewers to notice the unnoticed, the forgotten land. When I am fully happy with the success of my embossing of the Stack Leisure Park, I may try making an embossing of different urban voids in Dundee that I looked at when deciding on a site for my fashion film. Stay tuned to see how my work develops in semester 2 as the Degree Show creeps closer.

Barely-There Prints

I could not make it through this semester without popping into the print studio. My research of drawings and photographs always lead me into the loving arms of the screen printing beds and the exposure light box.

After researching sites for my fashion film, I was left with a lot of interesting photographs of what I called ‘Urban Voids’ around Dundee. I wanted to create prints out of these photographs using only the colour white. I emphasise the word colour as white is not the absense of colour as many would believe, but the presence of all colours.

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Screen print of void drain on tracing paper

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Screen print of void drain on white paper with foam on top

It is not easy to create a print that is entirely white. First of all, the shades of white from the ink and the paper can be different making one look less white than the other. Secondly, white on white is very hard to make out. To get around this, instead of screen printing on white paper or even tracing paper like I previously had, I wanted to play with the levels of the paper.

After working with blind embossing in 3rd year I was desperate to give it another try. The simplicity that this technique produces is so appealing and incredibly satisfying. Embossing is the way to go to create all-white monochrome prints without any ink at all.

I took a photograph of the Urban Void at Park Place, Dundee and other sites, and drew onto them on Photoshop. I used both thick and thin lines to achieve depth in my embossing. I then used this image and exposed it onto a photo plate and left the plate to develop in the sun.

This was my second attempt at making a photo embossing plate as the lines were not thick enough on my first plate meaning the embossing was not as deep and the lines were too hard to make out. As I now knew how thick I needed the lines I was able to play about with the thickness to make the print more visually interesting. Fabriano paper was the best choice for printing onto as it is both thick and soft. Unfortunately, although visually very interesting in person in my opinion, the embossing is not the easiest to photograph.

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It is hard to make out the finer lines in the background when photographed, but here is an idea of what the embossing looks like. I love that the viewer will need to come in close to these prints to realise what it is showing. My idea behind the Urban Void is to notice empty land that we walk past every day so in making these prints I am encouraging the viewer to really stop, come in close, and take notice of these Urban Voids.

To develop these prints I will scale them up. I am limited by the size of the photo developing box in the print studio but to get around this I will laser cut my image onto MDF and put this through the press with the paper. I am also currently thinking about presentation and was hoping to illuminate the prints to both attract viewers and make the prints more visible. I have been considering creating a film piece on the green screen and projecting this piece onto my prints. I would be filming one of my models moving or dancing around wearing my Tyvek costume and putting them in the place by projecting them onto my embossing. My plan is to scale up these prints first and see if the projection would work or if the piece is successful enough in its own right without the dancer. So get ready to see some big Urban Voids!