Mystic Symbolic: the developening

On January 27 I awoke with an idea for a mystic symbolic art generator. I immediately sketched copious notes and put out word I was looking for a coder to collaborate with. By some miracle, Atul Varma responded within an hour, which makes me believe this project really wants to exist.

My plans are vast and sprawling, so we’re starting simple. And by simple we mean bonkers:

Atul and I are on the same page regarding Free Software and Free Culture, so we’re both happy to share as we go along. You can generate your own strange images like the ones above by clicking the “randomize” button here:

https://toolness.github.io/mystic-symbolic/?p=creature

Here is the main Mystic Symbolic work-in-progress page:

https://toolness.github.io/mystic-symbolic/

And if you’re on guthub, which I am not yet but will be soon, there is this:

https://github.com/toolness/mystic-symbolic

This is a mere taste of things to come.

 

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Peep Toes and Eye Heels

In these dark days of Winter, boredom has driven me to craft:

A year or two ago I had a dream about a high-heeled shoe with an eye on the heel, much like the re-creation above. The heel itself was a unicorn horn. I sketched it upon awakening, and while I no longer remember the dream, I remember the drawing. I recently obtained polymer clay, a glue gun, and plastic eyes, to make these:

I didn’t make the shoes themselves; they are dance shoes I bought used for $5 at the local theater’s annual sale a few years ago. The eyes are plastic, which complicated things; the Fimo clay I shaped around them needs to be baked in an oven to harden, but the plastic would melt, so I had to make aluminum foil dummies. Also, they are life-size, which I think is too small. So I ordered some robust oven-safe 20mm glass irises, which finally arrived today, allowing me to make these:

I bought these shoes online, the red ones new, the brown ones used, both made of plastic and very cheap. I’m still developing my eye-making technique, getting closer to what I want. And when I reach my goal, I’ll…what? Look into mass production? I sure don’t want to spend my days hand-making Fimo shoe eyes, but injection-molded ones might be cool. Then people could hot-glue them to their own shoes, and my work would be done.

 

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Hand prints

The pristine, just-laser-cut blocks.
A pair of resultant prints.
Just before the blocks’ maiden voyage. I photographed them before they got little bits of ink stuck in them.

Next step is to heat-set them with the iron, and sew them into a test mask.

UPDATE: Masks!
My face is a little red because I rode my bike 67 miles today, including 10 miles in rain so heavy I couldn’t see and had to stop every few yards to wipe my eyes because OW rainwater stings, but I was sufficiently excited to come home to these masks to take these pix anyway.

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Eye mask design in progress

First I made this one…
Then I made this one…
Then I posted them on social media, where the feedback favored the hands…
This morning I designed this one, which combines traits of the first 2 designs.
Then I took this blurry selfie, because it’s raining this morning and very little light is coming through my windows.
A few more tweaks…
Ah, there we go. Still blurry, but the design feels much better to me.
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Angel O’ Death Mask Take 3: I’m getting tired

I’m now on my third set of laser-cut acrylic printing plates. Third time’s a charm. Even if it’s not, I’m not going through this again.

Below is design 3 (top) vs design 1 (bottom).

The Angel O’ Death face has become smaller still, so the wings could become proportionally bigger. Honestly I’m not sure I like this, but I’m tired and don’t want to go through yet another design iteration, so this may be it.

Momz sewed this new mask prototype, but I sewed the center seam, because it has to be sewn along the image line rather than the exact quarter-inch-from-the-fabric-edge she sews to. If I make a signed, numbered, limited edition handprinted mask run, I will be sewing all the center seams (and hopefully someone else will assemble the rest of them).

The new plates have finger holes, which are a vast improvement for handling, and work with a registration frame. Even with all the precision laser cutting, exact registration of the image on the pre-cut fabric pieces remains impossible, but this might be good enough.

Behold the glorious print process:

Registering a pre-cut fabric piece in the precision-cut frame.
Using the finger holes to line up the inked plate in the frame, which will drop right into the depression in which lies the pre-cut fabric.
Whacking with the rubber mallet. Whack, whack.
Lifting the plate with the finger holes.
The fabric is now stuck to the plate by the sticky ink.
A little finger burnishing. Not much is needed, as long as I slather on that gooey ink.
Peeling off the fabric.

Printed fabric pieces drying.
The finger-hole plates work fine without the registration frame as well, but then I have to hand-cut the pieces.

Oh, I actually wore one of these masks yesterday, while bicycling to Theo’s laser-cutting bunker to pick up the new plates. I’d been laid low with allergies, sneezing my face off, and thought the mask might reduce my inhalation of allergens. Maybe it did, but I will not bike with a mask again. I got out of breath quickly, and the mask became moist from my exhalations (which I then re-inhaled, hence feeling out of breath, because I’m inhaling my own CO2 instead of fresh oxygen), and when my nose got runny it got even more gross. So, not for biking. But I will wear one for shopping or other indoor public activities I can’t avoid. Still, all this work for something that’s just a drag to wear… No wonder I feel tired.

 

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