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Posts Tagged ‘paper’

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Photo: Calvin Nicholls
Wilson’s Bird of Paradise rendered in paper.

Some people seem to make a beeline straight from childhood to the work that will define them. People like Mozart, for example. Others have a long, circuitous route to greatness. Malvolio weighs in on the puzzle in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Pat Leonard writes at Living Bird that Calvin Nicholls came to his amazingly great art a bit by accident.

“The daily commute to his attic studio is short and steep. The road to success for Canadian artist Calvin Nicholls has been much longer. He’s spent the last 30 years perfecting an unusual art form that is all about light, shadow, shape—and illusion. Nicholls is a paper sculptor who creates fantastically detailed birds and other animals that seem to leap, lean, or flutter straight out of their frames. His career evolved from drawing, model-making, sculpting, photography, and periodic doses of serendipity.

“ ‘It’s so clear in my mind—it was 1983,’ says Nicholls. ‘I had my own graphic design studio in Toronto. I met a fellow who was manipulating paper to produce areas of highlight and shadow to create the feeling of depth in two dimensions. We worked on a restaurant menu concept together and I could see the potential in this technique. I got playing with paper sculpture myself and it was just so much fun.’

“At first, Nicholls created his sculptures as a method for creating his final product, a photograph that could surprise viewers by seeming three dimensional. The technique turned out to be a hit when Nicholls introduced it to some of his clients. He showed photographic prints of his work in an art show in Ontario in 1990, but he also wound up selling sculptures of a Snowy Owl and Mallard as well.

“ ‘I was focused on the prints and trying to make two dimensions look like three,’ Nicholls says. ‘Then clients would say, so where’s the artwork? And I thought, yikes—I never even thought about displaying the artwork! I still marvel that I didn’t know then that the original artwork could be as interesting as the illusion created in the prints with sophisticated studio lighting.’

“Switching focus to the original artwork meant reducing the depth of his sculptures so they could be framed and so the jumble of foam core supports and toothpicks underneath didn’t show when the piece was viewed from an angle. It took a lot of time and experimentation. But the end result is an uncanny illusion of depth from layers of paper that are only about an inch thick. …

‘What makes the sculptures work is thinking about anatomy and how [feathers] flow a certain way on the musculoskeletal structure,’ says Nicholls. ‘I have to get a sense of the skeleton and the muscles and what they do in certain gestures.’ ”

Read more and see the great pictures at Living Bird, here.

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An early stage in the creation of a Hari & Deepti light box

Do you ever click on the links to the right, in my blog roll? My Dad’s Records, for example, has old blues recordings you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

And This Is Colossal is a constant wonder. Today the art and visual-culture site posted illuminated paper light boxes that have to be seen to be believed.

Says Colossal: “Deepti Nair and Harikrishnan Panicker (known collectively as Hari & Deepti) are an artist couple [originally from India] who create paper cut light boxes. Each diorama is made from layers of cut watercolor paper placed inside a shadow box and is lit from behind with flexible LED light strips. The small visual narratives depicted in each work often play off aspects of light including stars, flames, fireflies, and planets. The couple shares about their work …

‘What amazes us about the paper cut light boxes is the dichotomy of the piece in its lit and unlit state, the contrast is so stark that it has this mystical effect on the viewers.’ ”

More.

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A new $100 bill is in the works. For security, it will have half a million tiny lenses in a special strip, and the lenses will create a particular optical effect as you tip the bill this way and that.  Kind of like a hologram, is my understanding. There will be even more tiny lenses on the Liberty Bell and the numeral 100, and as you tip the bill, the one will turn into the other, thanks to the lenses.

This rather surprising information I learned from a speaker today — Doug Crane, vice president of the family company that has been making America’s currency and some other nations’ currencies since 1801. He makes paper only from cotton (80%) and linen (20%).

There are a lot of interesting old documents about the history of Crane & Co. — and how it overlapped with key events and players in American history — at this blog on WordPress.

More information is on the regular website of the company, which is based in Dalton, Massachusetts, and employs 850 people locally. Among them are the people who make print so tiny you could “print the Bible twice on a dime.” They also employ optical engineers who create the micro lenses and are responsible for Crane’s 80 patents.

Other employees work in Tumba, Sweden, ever since Sweden asked Crane to take over its currency making. At the Tumba site, Crane makes currencies for additional countries.

A paper-making enterprise requires a lot of energy, so Crane is working with numerous alternatives as it moves toward its goal of 100% sustainability. It has   already drastically cut its oil use in a partnership with a steam-producing landfill enterprise. Hydroelectric is proving trickier because there are so many jurisdictions on the Housatonic River to give permission to remove waterfalls.

Perhaps the river could become a Blueway and get everyone working together. (See yesterday’s post.)

Postcard from cranesbond.com

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