Archive for the ‘Sample work/designs/patterns’ category

Update – nearing the end

July 12, 2010

So the MA degree (end of yr) show opens this week, which houses all the pathways including ourselves – Digital Arts. Our work was assessed last week and the external examiner was in today asking us about our experience of the course.

Now its all about those final tweaks for the private view tomorrow and the general opening until Saturday. We’ve all signed up for shifts of invigilating and I’ve used up some more of my holidays from work for this. And it leaves me with very little annual leave left for the rest of the yr. That’s a big shame but it was necessary. And then we have our results coming out on the 20th! It’s quite soon compared to how long students usually have to wait for their undergrad results or for A-levels or GCSE results. But even then I would rather know now than in a week and half’s time.

I’m also trying to mentally prepare myself for all sorts of outcomes. For example I am contemplating where my threshold for satisfaction in achievement is so that I can determine what marks I would need to achieve in order to be happy with my grade. But at the same time I don’t want to think about it at all in case I don’t get it and then feel really sad. Hmm but then again is it the marks that I should be happy about or the body of work? The work was definitely an achievement regardless of any one else’s opinion. I went for something quite ambitious and now that I think about it, I didn’t have to go all out but I did and I’m hoping that was perceived as a very strong point rather than a foolish or over-ambitious one. Only time will tell!!

On the up-side, I managed to get three prints ready in time for the show opening too. These were of photos taken in Unit2 and highlight the significance of my newly developed practice. I think they are worth some focus in their own right and have received a lot of positive feedback. Having taken that on board and with there being some spare wall space in the lighter room of the show I thought, why not?

Mounted A2 prints of photographs taken during project development

From left to right: Electric, Wave and Citylight all photographs taken during Unit2 development

The one on the far left is actually one I took last week – you might recognise it being similar to that in the previous post. I’m now very strongly contemplating ways in which to customise my Processing and OpenCV code in order to achieve coloured feed to project in order to create results similar to the images above. I think I might spend a couple of months after the MA just trying to improve the manipulation of lighting and adding in the element of colour. Simply by projecting my desktop screen  has created interesting reflections and shadows so it’s worth looking into for even better results.

Well I’d better be off – tomorrow is an early start. I’m now aiming to just look forward to the Private view where good friends and practitioners who I’ve come to know through the project will make for good company.

Special edition catalogues – in collaboration with Susan Mortimer

June 29, 2010

Some weeks ago I randomly got into conversation with fellow final yr (online) student Susan Mortimer who, as mentioned in a previous post, puts together and hand makes the Mail Art One zine. Susan also makes one-off special edition books/catalogues showcasing work by solo artists. So I suggested that it would be really cool if we one day used my mirror card cut-outs as covers for special edition books featuring some of my work from the MA.

And lovely and kind as Susan is, she said why not?, let’s do it now (instead of some time in the future which is what I was thinking). Obviously I was going to jump at the chance and thought wow if she’s willing to try it then I am soo game and therefore I set about ordering specific double-sided mirror card for this mini project.

Black and white versions of special edition books - collaboration: Sara Choudhrey and Susan Mortimer

Black and white versions of special edition books - collaboration: Hand-cut covers by Sara Choudhrey and printing and binding by Susan Mortimer

The books are a mini showcase of some of the images from my experimentation through the MA project so far. I chose 10 images which I think some of the key visual elements of my work and added a few coloured samples to give some variation to the black and white theme. I think they work well together in the book and I asked Susan to arrange an order that she thought would suit them best (it’s hard to see your work objectively when you’ve been concentrating on it for so long). She did a great job.

Browsing through the book

Browsing through the book

I hand-cut a few of the sheets using pat7 (the pattern used for all aspects of the final piece) and arranged it so that the 10-point star would be in the middle of the front and the back.

White version with full front and back cutting

White version with full front and back cutting

Black version with half cut cover

Black version with half-cut cover

I slightly altered the symmetry towards the spine too to make it fit appropriately. These sheets were then sent to Susan so she could test the binding and this morning I had the pleasure of receiving the proofs to look at.

Black and white versions of the books

Black and white versions of the books

I actually can’t decide which one I like best. We originally had the black one all black (even the middle section with the star in black too), but then this evening I thought I’d see how it looked with that cut out too and I quite liked it. And this is something I can do once Susan has finished the printing and binding on her side.

Susan has posted about her side of the process here:

Images of the books taken by Susan - capturing the shadows and reflections produced by the double-sided mirror card cut-out

Images of the books taken by Susan - capturing the shadows and reflections produced by the double-sided mirror card cut-out

We’ve just got a few more tweaks to do and then I’ll have around 20 of these special editions. I’m even contemplating having a couple on a plinth in the light room of the MADA (MA Digital Arts) exhibition space, but I’m going to leave this as an option if time permits rather than a must. Also, need to ask the others if there is space for it …

I now just need to get on with cutting the rest of the 20 covers! I may need a two-week long hand massage once I’m done.

DIY and needing bolts.

June 26, 2010

So I’ve decided to keep my metal ‘sculpture’ really simple. This is for several reasons, the main being that I cannot afford to ruin the cutting by trying to experiment with other shapes at this stage. It cost way too much to get a new one.

So its going to be the pattern cut sheet in a nice big curve coming outwards towards the user, attached to the blank sheet behind which also curves with the sheet but has a bit of a gap in between which is where I’m hoping the best of the light effects will work.This is in keeping with the last few prototypes that I’ve done. At the moment I have the right curve achieved with the aid of a huge plant pot (lol I know it’s random but it worked a treat).

Shaping metal sheet

Shaping the metal sheet with a huge plant pot

I’m not going to remove the protective film until right at the end of everything though, so that there’s less chance of it being scratched.

Now to get the curve right and to come out the way I want – like half a cylinder protruding from the pattern sheet, I need to secure and bolt down the points at which the curve goes from flat to curved. This is key to retaining the shape. But finding the right bolts has been a real pain. There are loads of huge bulky, cut head ones that are really long, however, what I really need is something nice and short, with a smooth head. The metal is very thin (0.7mm) so even times two it won’t need a huge bulky bolt.

I need something a bit like this:

Ludwig coach bolt from Drumshack site:

Also, as the metal is not as shiny as I wanted (it’s not mirror shine) I am contemplating using a sheet of mirror card as the back panel. I still have enough of the huge roll I bought a few months ago. It’s lovely stuff and has exactly the right reflectivity (as has been proved by my proto-typing). But I will need to stick it to something more solid in order to prevent it from flopping around. So I might use the blank sheet metal for this purpose. A bit of a waste of its original purpose but now that I have it I might as well use it. It still has the protective film on one side. So if i spray some adhesive on that side, stick straight onto the film then it should be ok.

The other alternative is to cover the mounting wall with the mirror card and then screw the metal directly into the wall over that area. But this will mean a risk in getting the mirror card to curve correctly in proportion to the pattern sheet.

I think I might need to wait until I get the sheets into the space before making the final decision on this. But the thought of it not being done is making me feel really uncomfortable. I hate not having things done.

It’s unbelievable the number of things you have to think about in installing for a space that isn’t your own to do with what you will. We’ll need to make sure all the walls are prepared, and then put them back to the same condition they were originally. This is fair enough. So I need to make sure I don’t drill too many holes. Or remember to polyfil them afterwards if I do.

There’s also my plinth to finish. I got the MDF from B&Q in the end as every time I got back from work the shop down the end of the road was already closed. However, B&Q had quite a good deal on with the MDF, about 2440mm x 1500mm for £16. I was going to get the 12mm (thickness) as that had been recommended by the 3D resource technicians. But the ones in the store were quite damaged so I went for the 18mm instead. It is heavier but I think the added weight will be to my advantage in making the plinth more stable and harder to knock over or even lift and run off with (partial fear of security there).

So with my handy diagram and calculations in hand I asked the guy at B&Q to cut up the sheet to the panel sizes I needed.They have this awesome machine that cuts the huge sheet down when you put in the exact numbers. Imagine how much time is saved with the use of technology everyday? It’s brilliant.

Cutting MDF at B&Q

Cutting MDF at B&Q

I’ve chosen to make the plinth 40cm x 45cm. So not quite a square but wider at the front and back. I’ve also measured out where I’d like the MDF pattern cut panel to go on the front. I’m aiming to have the big 10-point star right in the middle. But this will also depend on where the projector will go inside the plinth. I need it’s exact measurements to place the shelf inside in the right place. I would never have imagined how technical a plinth could get.

The pieces that will eventually be my plinth

The pieces that will eventually be my plinth

So I was planning to paint my panels with this paint I bought from B&Q too (becoming a regular there) which says you only need to use one coat, where usually you would have to apply a primer coat before the final paint.

One coat paint to use on Plinth - gloss based so hoping for a nice finish

One coat paint to use on Plinth - gloss based so hoping for a nice finish

But I realised I should actually cut the wood parts out before I paint them. So once again I need to wait for Monday which is when I can go to a local joinery store who can do some routing and cutting for me. This will save me having to drive the plinth back and forth from uni which would take an hour anyway.

I spent some time this morning marking out exactly where it would need to be cut. This includes more holes for ventilation towards the top of each of the side panels, and cutting down the shelf pieces which originally were going to fill the whole of the inside space but now I want to leave room along the back (closer to the back door panel) for the wires to have enough room.

Markings for cutting holes from MDF

Markings for cutting holes from MDF

Area to be routed from front panel

Area to be routed from front panel

The above image shows part of the rectangle that I’m planning to cut away from the front panel of the plinth to place the lasercut pattern MDF from last week.

So now it’s a matter of waiting till Monday morning which is when I’ll get the final cutting done, paint the MDF which according to the paint pot should be dry within a maximum of 2 hrs and then, get it all put together by driving all parts to uni and begging for help from the technicians.

From pen to paper to computer to metal

June 20, 2010

I thought I’d do this post just for fun. It’s kind of cool to see all the stages of getting a pattern from the first stage to the last – in other words it’s proof of why it took so long:

Creating the pattern:

Creating pat7 from scratch

Creating pat7 from scratch

Using the pattern to cut mirror card:

Pat7 cut into mirror card

Pat7 cut into mirror card

Using pattern to create digital version in Adobe Photoshop:

Screenshot of building up the pattern in Photoshop

Screenshot of building up the pattern in Photoshop

Importing paths into illustrator and exporting as correct files for CAD machines:

Exporting as DXF from Illustrator

Exporting as DXF from Illustrator

Black and green image of imported file from waterjet cutting company:

Single tile of pattern

Single tile of pattern

Full tiled pattern

Full tiled pattern

Final cutting:

Waterjet cut pattern in aluminium

Waterjet cut pattern in aluminium

I’ll add one last image to this when the final stage of sculpting has been completed.

Ohmydays it’s here!!

June 19, 2010

The aluminium cutting that is.

Metal cut out sandwiched between cut wood - looks good right?

Metal cut-out sandwiched between cut wood

Detail of cut metal

Detail of cut metal - unfortunately there's a slight brushed effect that I did not ask for 😦

It’s massive – which is brilliant. It was attached to a pallet and took me a while to figure out a way to get it open without resorting to using heavy machinery.

And the best thing about it is that they used two wooden pieces to stabilise the metal while it was being cut so the very helpful and kind guy (who didn’t scam me btw, Thank God!) said he’d send them with the metal as ‘they could be useful’ for my project. Hell yeh! They look like Moroccan screens, totally love them 🙂

All three pieces

Metal cut out sandwiched between cut wood

I want to do something with wooden pieces and the options are many but time is just too short, so I’ll have to save it for something post MA. My sisters have been telling me to make screens, doors, cabinets…the list goes on.

I like the effect of displacing one against the other

I like the effect of displacing one against the other. The aluminium is coverd by a protective film at the moment

So now I’m back to my major issue of not having a studio to work in 😦 I need to start looking for one I think. I’ve heard there are a few schemes around London that you have to apply for but by the time I get round to doing that I will probably miss the deadlines. The next few weeks are just going to be too busy. I feel guilty even posting on the blog at the moment with all the other stuff to take care of. Right now the essay is not even typed up  (I still enjoy writing notes in the traditional age-old, pen to paper format).

So yeh, better get back to that. I’m not sure if I will post images of the aluminium without the covering or wait till I’ve sculpted it. It might ruin the surprise.

More MDF cut

June 16, 2010

So I finally got the MDF cut with the laser machine at college. It looks really nice, and for some reason I really like the smell of the burnt edges. It’s been a few hours and it still smells quite strong.

I also really like all the offcuts – they looked so cool when I pulled the whole main sheet away, and the shapes formed the pattern as they were still in place. I didn’t think to take a picture of them at that point and now wish I had. It would take ages to arrange them in formation again. But if I did it would make for a very interesting art piece me thinks.

Laser cutting machine

Laser cutting machine

Machine has finished cutting

Machine has finished cutting

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

The final cut mdf

The final cut MDF (3mm)

Two downsides are that firstly at this scale I can notice some inaccuracies in the pattern. Some of the shapes are wider apart than others. It slightly bugs me knowing this although I doubt the average person would notice it unless they looked really hard or if it was pointed out to them. Secondly the MDF sheet was slightly smaller than we thought so the edge of the tile was cut off.

All in all it’s still pretty impressive. I want to use it for the front of my plinth, if I can, but I’ve realised I may need to re-design the way I’m planning to make the plinth.

Originally I was going to just have solid panels to make all four sides but if I use this cut out then it needs to be attached to a strong and stable frame which has legs going all the way up the sides allowing the inside to be hollow and the holes to help ventilation of the hardware concealed inside.

Things are quite mad for me at the moment. There are a lot of family commitments coming too. And I just don’t have enough hours in the day to commit to the project as I would like.

Oh well, better just get on with it and finish that essay!

Not so quick update

April 26, 2010

As I imagined things are becoming quite manic now. There are deadlines and things to remember all over the place. But, alas, this is the way of anything that has a specific pressured end such as the project.

Now I have a couple of books I’d like to mention which I was supposed to have done some time ago. Actually one of them I might have already mentioned…but I’m not sure so I’ll mention it anyway (you know, just in case).

The first is ‘Polyhedron Models’ by Magnus J Wenninger. It  contains some very striking,  but kinda complicated models of…yep you guessed it – polyhedrons. For those who don’t know what these are have a look at some of the images below. They look a little similar to the model I made a while back (Icosahedron).

A polyhedron (plural polyhedra or polyhedrons) is a geometric solid in three dimensions with flat faces and straight edges.


Page 21 from M J Wenninger's Polyedron Models

Page 21 from M J Wenninger's Polyedron Models

Polyhedron Models illustrates how the shapes look when flat and then once constructed to their full 3D form. However, I think most of these are beyond my capability to attempt (at the moment at least) but there are some simple ones at the beginning of the book and seem less scary as the associated mathematical formulas aren’t so daunting either. Not to mention some of the names. And you’ve just got to love some of the names – e.g. Quasirhombicuboctahedron which looks something like this:


Quasirhombicuboctahedron - from pg 132 of M J Wenninger's Polyheron Models

And the rhombitruncatedicosidodecahedron:


Rhombitruncatedicosidodecahedron - from pg 30 of M J Wenninger's Polyhedron Models

I did a search on the author and found some fascinating imagea of his coloured paper creations:

3D models of 4D polytopes

3D models of 4D polytopes - by Magnus J Wenninger

Polyhedron from set number 5 - by Magnus J Wenninger

Polyhedron from set number 5 - by Magnus J Wenninger. This one would probably look brilliant if carved from stone, although I can't imagine how it could be done.

Oh and it says on this site that he is a monk. I wonder how much that has played into or influenced his interest in this kind of geometry. Have a look at his web site for more stunning photographs and more on his writing too.

On to the second book. This one is ‘Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art’ by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman. Now I heard about this book some time ago but kinda forgot about it then realised it wasn’t newly available and then recently decided to just get a second-hand copy via the net. But it’s totally worth it. If I had this book maybe a yr and a half ago I think I might have done a lot more pattern work. It was Richard Henry (teacher for the pattern-making workshop) who recommended this book to me not so long ago and I can see that it is an immensely useful, practical and encouragingly inspiring one to have. Yes a lot of superlatives but they were all intentional.

Now Issam El-Said died at the age of 50 in 1988 before he was able to finish his PhD. But in the time that he was practising his art and already doing much research into the area of geometry he managed to create some beautiful pieces and publish very informative and educational writing. His work (both academic and artistic) is still valued today and this book is only one example.

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman

Hardback cover of Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art

Hardback cover of Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman

The cover itself (hardback version) has gold calligraphy on the front (under the paper cover) which is a nice touch. And then inside there are photographs of geometric patterns from real architectural sources around the world. Besides these photos are diagrams of how those patterns have been constructed. Like really simple ways to construct them!

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art - pg 47

Page 47 from Geometric concepts in Islamic Art

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art pg 91

Page 91 from Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art

I’ve realised that with some patterns there are a couple of ways to approach them, one being to create the foundation grid and build that up with a few layers of sub grids. This is mostly useful for when the grids might be used in multiple ways to create a pattern of maybe semi-regular tiling rather than just regular tiling. Well that’s the impression I got anyway. But the construction diagrams in this book cut a lot of the process out and show you how to get  to the final main pattern in the quickest way possible.

Unfortunately, I won’t have much time before the end of the project to try out more of these patterns.

Back to El-Said – here’s a link to web site ( in which you can read up about his history and achievements as well as find examples of his art work. Here’s one of my favourites (note the combination of Arabic calligraphy and geometry):

Allah, Mohammed (Hexagon) detail Limited edition etching 30x30cm by Issam El-Said

Allah, Mohammed (Hexagon) detail Limited edition etching 30x30cm by Issam El-Said. Image from:

Change of topic now. I’d like to mention the plug my work got on the Eastern Soul blog: It’s nice to have your work appreciated 🙂

The Eastern Soul blog has been created in order to showcase artists and individuals involved in the creative arts who have added a bit of their own Eastern touch. There should be some interesting features on the blog in the coming months…

And finally on to my project developments. These aren’t going as fast as I’l like them to be. I’ve finished the pattern I was working on recently – it looks quite nice on paper and I’m about to move onto making a mirror card prototype of a sculpture using it (God willing). Here’s an image illustrating the stages of creating it:

various stages of creating 12 point star pattern using Daud Sutton's Islamic Design.

Various stages of creating a 12 point star pattern using an example from Daud Sutton's 'Islamic Design'.

I’m now trying to digitise this pattern but have faced a few errors and need to think of an alternative approach to my current one. However, I’ve been mucking about with what I have so far and for those of you who like a bit of colour:

Pat7_Splash courtesy of Sara Choudhrey :)


And finally, we have the date for our symposium (in which all students have to do a 5 min presentation of their project) which is to be on May 5th.

The areas we have been told to cover include:

– Project overview
– Key developments during your time on the course
– Key contextual discoveries
– Post MA developments

I feel comfortable with the topics in general although the 3rd one might be a bit lengthy. We’ll need to include imagery and can either present in person or through a video/podcast. Unfortunately, I will be away the week it is due so will have less time to prepare it the way I would like to. I may have to stick to a good old powerpoint presentation – eww. Maybe I’ll try something in Flash. We’ll see.