A wee taste of the progress Theo and I are making on our “Chad Gadya” embroidermation project.
Frames of the animation are stitched in groups of 6, arranged in a circle on matzo covers. We currently have 516 frames on 86 matzo covers, which I painstakingly finished by hand with multiple fabric layers and labels and everything.
We hired Theo’s daughter, Emma, to help. Here she is ironing away while I adjust a lining.
Here I am topstitching one of the 86 covers on a treadle sewing machine.
We have a lot of additional photography, stitchcoding and stitching to do, but we are making progress. When the film is done the matzo covers will be for sale.
Interestingly, money is not culture; currency is. More on that in my essay Culture is Anti-Rivalrous (scroll down to part IV). And here I am, a Free Culture advocate minting money on my quilt plotter. My impulse to share source files is mitigated by this. Free Culture readers of this blog: how can I best share the culture of this project without compromising the identity of the bills themselves? I like to share the “source code” of my projects once they’re out there, but I don’t see how I can do that with this one.
Our Quilt Plotter’s rather frustrating software automatically resamples DST files, for no explicable reason. While we struggle to communicate with its manufacturers to overcome this “feature,” I attempted to explain the problem in pictures.
1. A line, or vector file, is not a DST file yet. A DST file is comprised of many points, like so:
2. This has a high sample rate, because there are many points spaced close together.
3. Above is a lower sample rate, with “stitches” in black. There are fewer points and they are spaced further apart. Here’s a resample at the same sample rate (frequency/spacing of points):
4. Every time the path is resampled, it moves further from the original line. This happens even if it’s resampled at the same sample rate, as shown here.
5. Same sample rate, worse fidelity because of resampling.
6. If we resample enough times, eventually our path won’t resemble the original line.
7. Not what we want.
THIS is what we want the machine to read. We can control all the points in the DST file in Mathematica. We just want the machine to not resample them, to keep the points in the original file we give it. Here the points are evenly spaced except at corners and curves to preserve fidelity.
Back on the Quiltimation front, I was wondering if I could arrange animated frames on a quilt in a mandala/medallion pattern, rather than left-to-right cells. This would essentially be a quilted phenakistoscope, with the animation emerging as the whole thing is rotated (we’d keep the camera and lights stable, and rotate the quilt).
click for animated gif
The saturated colors here would be lost, although I could use a few colors of thread. The elements are early Leviathan designs, and Water from Chad Gadya which is still in (very slow) progress.
Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen (I didn’t name it! I’d paint over the name but it would reduce resale value) sit-down long arm quilting machine. Less than one year old, only 134,228 stitches total.
Includes table, two table extensions, smooth table overlay, open-toe hopping foot (in addition to closed-toe foot it came with), extra needles, bobbins, tools, supplies, manual, documentation, etc.
Purchased May 8 2013 via Lori’s Pins ‘n’ Needles, Paris IL
Selling because I bought a full-frame computer-guided system, and now do any hand-guided work on treadles. It’s a great machine, practically brand new, and just gathering dust in my studio.
Pickup only in downtown Urbana IL. I’m happy to give instruction and let you “test drive” it before buying.
What I paid:
Machine package: $4965.94
2 18″ x 30″ table extensions: $478 ($239.00 each)
Table overlay: $89.95
Open toe hopping foot: $39.90
= $5,573 total
Selling for $4,500 without the separate bobbin winder, or $4,800 with.
A friend recently refinished my Singer parlor cabinet (pix later) and asked to be paid in quilt. He’s a fish scientist, so naturally he wanted a fish quilt.
It’s a little over 6′ by 3′ – I haven’t measured it actually. Also the photos are all a bit distorted because I couldn’t shoot it straight on. Instead these are all taken of it lying on my cutting table.
The technique is Trapplique. The parts were stitched on the quilt plotter. I cut them out, then basted and satin stitched them down with my sailmaking machine.
It has a sequined and beaded eye.
The quilt above belongs to Niels the fish scientist, but the most efficient use of materials with this design was to make 2 fish’s worth of trapplique parts in one stitching. So I assembled a mirror image fish for myself:
As is always the way with money, there was a little less of it than before.
Laundered and unlaundered
The 98-inch-long quilt shrank about 5 inches (approximately 5%). Shown above against our other $1,000 quilt test, pre-laundered, for comparison. Theo prefers the soft crinkly-ness the laundering imparts. I like them either way.
This is a TEST of the One Thousand Dollar Quilt, conceived as a more affordable version of my handmade Ten Thousand Dollar Quilt.
This is a test, it is only a test. We stitched out two versions to see how the quilt plotter would handle it, how the thread density would look, etc. There’s well over half a million stitches here, and it took the plotter about a day to stitch. Then I spent half a day cutting, sewing, and ironing binding, and binding it.
Rae Spooner of Bent Bean Chocolates (Urbana, IL) enjoys the cozy warmth of One Thousand Dollars.
It’s about 8 feet long. The front is high thread count unbleached cotton muslin, the back is regular thread count same. The batting is a mystery – either polyester or poly-cotton, not sure because it’s left over from another project Theo bought it for, and he doesn’t remember. The quilt is remarkably soft and flexible given all the dense stitching
Unlike the Ten Thousand Dollar Quilt, which uses reverse applique, this gets its color solely from the thread. The result is lower contrast, but I like all the stitch lines. Also there’s no way I could do a reverse applique version for under a thousand dollars.
The bright green thread is 30-weight, thicker than the 40-weight dark green and white. What a nice solid effect it gives.
The thread is polyester: the dark green and white are 40 weight, and the lighter green is 30 weight, which is significantly thicker. We may do another test using 30 weight dark green. Heavy thread works beautifully, but it’s very expensive. Then again for a Thousand Dollars we can use expensive thread.
Registration is off as expected, but could be worse. He have a strategy for improving registration in the next test.
Medallion background fill will be crosshatched in the next iteration.
The portrait medallion fill will be crosshatched in the next version. I didn’t like these curved shading lines at all, because the machine double-stitched some of them which ruined the gradient effect. The next version will also have fill lines on Cleveland’s face, along with a larger border with more of the swirly fill.
The back. We had a few thread nests but overall it’s pretty clean.
Rae helps me hold up the 8-foot comfy currency. Photo by anonymous friendly woman who was trying to buy chocolate at Rae’s shop.
A great “machine’s-eye-view” of our quilt plotter is at the one-minute mark of this Apple promo video. In addition to creating the Mathematica user interface and co-founding Touch Press, Theo is Science Officer of our own PaleGray Labs.
The PaleGray Labs office/workshop/studio is in a former bank building, which is why our suite contains a vault.
Entering the Quilt Vault
When I bought a new mattress I stored the previous one in the office vault before it found a new home. I quickly realized the vault could be its new home, and the home of my art quilts, freshly returned from Sleepy Creek Vineyards. And so the Quilt Vault was born.
Even though Theo’s kids call the Quilt Vault a “sex dungeon,” having a real bed on site is practical for a quilt studio. I’m currently designing minimalist quilt tops using the 44″ wide bolts of colored fabric I bought last year, to have more colorful bases for complex stitch patterns. The bed provided instant visual feedback as I pieced this together:
PaleGray Labs being the textile art collaboration of me and Theodore Gray. First up, we have a photo of Mathematician Ian Stewart holding up PaleGray Labs’ “Fibonacci Sequins” quilt Theo just gave him in London:
This was designed by me and Theo using a Mathematica tool he created for that purpose, stitched on the new quilt plotter, and bound on my 100-year-old Davis Vertical Feed treadle machine. I hand-sewed on the sequins and beads. This was a test, but we plan to make more of them, including large bed quilts.
Below are some initial experiments with the quilt plotter. We’re still getting the hang of this thing, and working out some software issues that will require communicating through a Chinese interpreter some time in February after Chinese New Year vacations are over.
All stitchcoding by Theo using tools he built in Mathematica. Above we have fibonacci spiral fractals, a big guilloche pattern, and a modified dancing Reena Shah cycle from Sita Sings the Blues. All just tests, because the machine ripped the fabric before we learned to let it “cycle” on before moving the head (a problem that could be fixed with improved software, but until we get the ear of the Chinese software company that controls its operating system we just have to be very careful and do a lot of work-arounds).
Here’s my treadle-operated Davis Vertical Feed, which I am in love with. It makes binding almost a pleasure, a physical game of skill, a kind of meditation. If it weren’t for the time it takes to cut and iron the binding strips, I could see binding all PaleGray Labs quilts with this. (I’m also experimenting with bias tape and a Suisei binder attachment on my Singer treadle and Featherweight, which have the necessary mounting screw holes but lack the genuine walking foot that quality binding needs). Behind the Davis is the new 20″ long arm zig-zag machine, designed for making sails but which I intend to use for trapplique. It’s a powerful beast but we don’t get along because something’s wrong with its tension. The company is sending me a new tension assembly which will hopefully fix the problem.
The domain palegraylabs.com currently just reroutes to the “Quilting” category of this blog. Hopefully we (meaning I, helped by Webmaster Ian) will design a nice web site of its own soon.