I am a better line processor than any algorithm we currently have access to. Behold what I turned into a SINGLE LINE by hand:
Many people think we’re using Mathematica to do the drawings of our Quilt Money. We’re not! I am drawing all this stuff by hand. Theo uses Mathematica to route my drawings that contain T-intersections, but I’m learning to make my drawings single lines without T-intersections by hand, because they route much better that way. Everything below was drawn by me, by hand:
Only a few bits (the seals and part of the border) need to be routed in Mathematica. Everything else I drew as single paths. Which is quite a brain-hurter, lemme tell ya. Here’s a screen capture of me working on this same project last week:
I could do this much more efficiently now, using what I’ve learned since then. Which is good, because the better I get at this, the more I can help someone else create algorithms to automate this kind of work.
And yes, at some point we hope to offer an affordable $100 Quilt. But first I have to get the design right, and then our potential partner has to be able actually produce it without losing money. We’re working on it.
Our quilted money is one of the few things I don’t share source (in this case, vector) files for, because currency isn’t exactly like other culture, as I explain here.
Single-line art is the holy grail of quilting design: the sewing machine head can stitch the entire design without starting, stopping, or breaking thread. To illustrate this for an upcoming talk I drew a holy grail as a single-line drawing. I did this by hand in Flash, and made this simulation of a simulator by deleting line segments one at a time.
I would love a program that intelligently automatically converts my line art into single-line art. Theo made something like that already, which preserves all the line segments and relies on back-tracking. But I’d also like something that replicates what I did here by hand: removing and adding small line segments so no back-tracking is needed. It would need to analyze which smaller line segments could be sacrificed, and which segments could be doubled (parallel lines can be easily added to a design like this).
You need single line art for automated quilting, and that’s what we do. But getting from regular line art to single-line art is currently no small task, for humans or computers.
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.
I personally prefer Cycle B, because I like backgrounds where everything is moving – I feel it gives it more depth. As a 2-D design the clouds look nice, but in an animated cycle their stillness bothers me. I did make a version with moving clouds, but on this 24-frame cycle they had to be very dense to repeat:
Cycle C, “Repeating Clouds”. I still prefer Cycle B. The sky pattern might be a bit unconventional, but I think it’s stylish. Also I don’t like all that white in the background of A and C.
The palette is limited to 10 colors because this is destined for Embroidermation. The animated GIF doesn’t have great color fidelity; thread colors will look better and have more contrast between foreground and background.
If you have an opinion on which of these you prefer, please leave it in the comments and maybe it will help Theo and me settle our argument.
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.