Tests and final touches

Last week, the miller came out to tune up the windmill and test a couple of sails:photo(5)

Back at the studio I added an additional element representing the millstone’s “furrows”.photo  photo(7)

This motif has a different placement on each sail, progressing across the sails’ length.  The intended effect is that of a four-frame animation; as the mill turns, the semi-circle will appear to move from one end to the other…photo(3)




airbrushed inside shape

Airbrushed Shape #1

airbrushed outside shape

Airbrushed Shape #2

Thanks to Jacquard Products, the sails will be printed with high-quality fabric paint!  The company has graciously agreed to support this project, ensuring that the final result will last for a long, long time.

After experimenting with samples of a variety of their inks and paints, I am pretty sure that Airbrush is the way to go.  This is quite surprising, since I’ve always associated the medium with fringed t-shirts sold at beach decal-shops; you know, unicorns and the like.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).  The bright, saturated color really makes the graphics stand out from far away.  Also, the transparent paint almost glows when back-lit by the sun, as I attempt to demonstrate in these photographs.

Originally,  I intended to print each shape in a solid color.  However, the airbrushed color gradation allows for the use of multiple tones without assigning different colors to each component of the design.  The alternating  positive and negative shapes are unified by this consistency while remaining dynamic and playful.

Both of these samples were sprayed over a stencil using a pneumatic paint-gun.  I used less paint for the “leaf shape” than for the other shape; the use of a new medium entails a learning curve.  Ultimately, though, the one-shot nature of the spraying-over-stencil technique will inevitably result in imperfections, which I’ll accept as inherent to the process.


IMG_0814Yesterday’s work session was challenging, but we got a lot of tiny shapes cut.  Xerox enlargements of a millstone rubbing resulted in these shapes, which were first traced onto the plastic fabric and then cut out by hand. This stencil will be used to print a textured layer on top of the larger, simpler shapes that will make up the overall design.

An article about the work-session and the project in general is in today’s Providence Journal, but I haven’t made it back to “the city” to pick one up.  I will scan and upload a copy soon!