Now that the digital painting class is over, we’re starting preparations for the TC-2 (my incoming jacquard loom). According to the shipping manifest, it should arrive in the port of San Francisco in about two and a half weeks (August 25); it will probably take 1-3 more days to reach my door. So – just in case that schedule slips – the loom assembly party will be September 5. My friend Dave, who is expert in both electrical and mechanical engineering, has graciously agreed to lead the assembly, and is reading his way through the TC-2 manual. (Which is remarkably thorough; it even includes the schematics of the electrical systems, which is much appreciated by both Dave and my husband, Mike.)
Meanwhile, Mike is preparing to rewire the electrical circuits in the garage. The TC-2 is power-hungry (especially the vacuum pump), so two 220-volt, 20-amp circuits are going in for the loom. (Don’t worry; Mike is quite competent with electrical work. I’d probably burn the house down if I tried it, but he won’t. 🙂 ) Mike is also installing lighting – six four-foot LED strip lights that should provide excellent lighting throughout the garage, and especially above both looms. And we’ve ordered leveling casters to make Emmy, my 40-shaft AVL, easier to move.
And me? I’m reading about how to operate the TC-2, and thinking about the second project to come off the loom. (The first one I already know about – it’s a gift for someone.) Since I’ve been stuck on phoenixes the last few years, of course it will have to be a phoenix…either a wall hanging or a panel to decorate the sides of my new loom. I need to decide the dimensions of the piece. That will allow me to take the first step in design: Sketching thumbnails. These are tiny, 1.5-inch sketches showing the layout of the drawing. They are kept deliberately small so you can’t draw any details; instead, you’re looking at the division of space and the arrangement of elements within the drawing.
Once I’ve settled the thumbnails, perspective, and lighting (the latter done via more small sketches), I’ll need to figure out the pixel dimensions of the image I’ll be creating. At this point I’ll have to choose a weave structure and yarn, because that allows me to calculate how many threads I’ll be using. First I’ll calculate the sett, then use that to determine how many threads I need to get to the right dimensions. Then I’ll divide the number of threads by the # of threads in a design unit of the structure (in summer and winter, for example, each design unit is 4 threads). That will give me the number of design units (aka pixels) I can use in my design, which in turn tells me the pixel dimensions. (Whew!)
I’m going to try to keep things relatively simple for the first phoenix, mostly because I expect it will take me some time to get used to the loom and to designing in Arahweave. So I will probably pick a fairly simple weave structure to start with. I need to do a lot more thinking first, though!
But I do have a really cool toy on which to paint my designs. Here’s my new-to-me tablet/display, a Wacom Cintiq 22HD (in the center, and pardon the mess on my desk):
A “regular” drawing tablet, like the one I’ve been using, is just a black tablet without a display. To draw using one of those tablets, you have to draw while looking at your screen, not the hand doing the drawing. It’s basically drawing by remote, and it makes it challenging to get precise results. But the display/tablets allow you to actually draw on the display, just like you would with an iPad. This makes it possible to get much nicer results.
The display/tablets are much more expensive, though – the one I just got retails for $1800(!) plus tax and shipping if purchased new. But I got super-lucky and found one on Craigslist for just pennies on the dollar. It was missing a power cord and the stylus (which is why it was so cheap), but after replacing both, it works just fine. So I’m feeling pretty psyched about that.
So that’s where we are now: clearing space in the garage, rewiring the electrical circuits, preparing the loom assembly team, and getting ready to design my first project. Exciting times!
Speaking of exciting, my mom is visiting. Which means exotic luggage. So of course the cats had to investigate. Here’s the scene about five minutes after her arrival, and about two seconds after she unzipped the first bag:
We did eventually have to explain to Tigress that it’s not nice to go digging through someone else’s underwear (!), and gently shooed her away so my mom could zip up her luggage again. But I’m sure this will be a recurring theme for the next few days.