Monday, March 26, 2007

Today's Smal Miracle(s)

The sun is shining, it's 67 degrees outside, AND I'm having an awesome hair day :)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Next Time You're on Jeopardy

So, in Graphic Design we've been learning about type faces and type settings, so, I've been learning a lot of new and interesting vocabulary words that I thought would come in handy the next time you're on jeopardy, or you know, at a party and want to be a sparkling conversationalist and sound really smart.

Point(s): a vertical unit of measurement, 72 points= 1 inch... a font is measured in points from the top of the Ascender, i.e. the top of the lower case "k," to the bottom of the Descender, i.e. the bottom of the lower case "p."

Pica(s): a horizontal unit of measurement, 12 points= 1 pica, 6 picas= 1 inch

Character: letter, space, or number- any unit that involves type, punctuation, etc.

X-Height: the height of a lower case letter without any ascenders or descenders, i.e. the lower case "o." Font size includes the ascenders and descenders, but the x-height carries the visual size of a font, meaning that two fonts can be the same size, but if one font has a smaller x-height, that font will look smaller even though both fonts are the same point size.

Leading: line spacing, also measured in points. Measures the space from one baseline to the next, including the next line of type. For instance, consider the previous line, being "Measures the..."; leading measures from the bottom of the upper-case "M" to the bottom of the upper-case "F" in the line starting, "For instance...." Leading does not include the measurement of any descenders because descenders reach below the baseline, although descenders are allotted for in the previous line's measurement. Complicated, I know... it would be easier for me to explain in person with visuals, etc.

Line Length: measured in picas... important, for instance, if you are writing for a magazine and have a specific column width that must be adhered to.

Alignment: arrangement of type on the page, i.e. left justification, right justification, centered, or ragged.

Kerning: the management of the space between two letters, this becomes more important with larger font sizes, 60 point or bigger, so that letters do not look too far apart or too close, etc.

Tracking: the management of the space between a series of things, whether those things be whole words or single letters. Again, becomes important with larger font sizes for the same reason.

Serif: a type of font classification. For instance, the font in this blog is a serif font... the letters have little "flags" or "triangles" on the ascenders and descenders and at a letter's termination on the baseline. Serifs are said to make a font easier to read, especially when there is body copy or large chucks of text to be read.

Sans Serif: another font classifiication, simply meaning that a font does NOT have any serifs.

And those are the basics... I'm glad that I'm not going to have to take any typography classes while I'm at Edinboro, because you have no idea how complicated this actually is... the computer does everything for us, and un-artfully I might add. Designers have a lot more to compete with than I thought. I will never look at a magazine or a poster the same way again.

We're working on type exercises in class... and when you find yourself analyzing a font based on its serifs or lack there of, it's kinda creepy. Cool that you're learning to use your eyes in a new way, but creepy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spring Comes to Edinboro

With no ceremony or fuss, spring arrived all in one day... loudly and with rain, turning everything sodden and soft. I love it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Oh GOD, My Back Itches!

No, no... my horse isn't dead; she's just rolling in the mud. Oh well.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A New Word for Your Vocabulary

Gestalt: (noun) guh-stawlt

-1. A physical, biological, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts. Also called gestalt phenomenon.

-2. 1922, from Ger. Gestaltqualit‰t (1890, introduced by Ger. philosopher Christian von Ehrenfels, 1859-1932), from M.H.G. gestalt "form, configuration, appearance," abstracted from ungestalt "deformity," noun use of adj. ungestalt "misshapen," from gestalt, obsolete pp. of stellen "to place, arrange." As a school of psychology, it was founded c.1912.

Where I found this word: In my art classes; I've heard it many times in my Graphic Design class, and my sculpture professor mentioned it today. Since it's been cropping up often in my life lately, I thought that I would mention it.

It is a psychological term that applies to how we receive/interpret new information and make sense of our surroundings. As applied to a piece of art, it means a focal point that is a key to the piece and contributes to the understanding of that piece. However, it can also mean an overarching idea or purpose with respect to a person, an organization, or any sort of project.

Usage: The gestalt of this painting is the circle in the upper-left corner; it draws your eye there first and then helps your gaze radiate out to the rest of the piece.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jewelry Fabrication: sweat soldered piece

So, here's my second official piece as a metalsmith in training.

Sweat soldering is similiar but different from the technique that I learned at the Kenyon College Craft Center: instead of putting the sheet metal face to face and then placing the solder around the seam, you metal soldering onto the back of the smaller face, then place the two pieces together, then heat them to soldering temperature until the solder flashes to the edge and you can see it at the seem.

For example, my ring. The smaller of the two faces in my ring is the top, silver face. So, to connect the sheets, I placed flux and solder on the back of the top face and melted that solder until it flowed, dredged it and put it in the pickle. THEN, I filed the solder down flat, to make sure that there wasn't too much solder on the back. THEN, I placed the smaller face, solder-side down onto the band, then heated both pieces until the solder flowed again and held the two pieces together. THEN, I bent the ring around a mandrel, soldered the joint, and dipped it in Liver of Sulfer to get that nice black color.

And that's that. I'm happy with how it turned out. Doesn't it look nice on my finger :)

Sculpture: carving project, second edition

I told ya it would happen :)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Graphic Design: grid system project, parts I and II

Okay, so this is what I've been doing in Graphic Design for the first part of the semester... part II, the last picture in the series, is due this evening. The grid and the first part of the project were due a couple weeks ago.

I wish I could explain to you what these projects were about... but the truth is I'm not sure that I understand them myself. Learning about graphic design is like learning a foreign language... it goes back to the visual decision making that I learned about in 3D, but my teacher also talks a lot about intuition and feeling the decision. She talks a lot about how designers are somewhat schizophrenic, having to be crazy and free and creative while designing and then being anal and neat during execution.

All designs (magazine pages and covers, book covers, posters, billboards, t-shirts, business cards and flyers, etc), she says, all of them have an internal structure that helps the viewer make sense of what he or she is seeing... helps move the eye and create closure in the design.

NOW, the first picture in the series is a picture of my actual grid (a gird is any system of lines, straight, curved, or other wise, that helps the designer place items like text and image into the design so that those items relate to each other). The second picture is an abstract design based on my grid system. And the last picture is a translation of my design that includes text and image.

Part I and II of this project were graded on many different criteria: form, balance, unity, movement, negative space (was there charged negative space or no), contrast of scale, contrast of value, and anomaly (does the design break away from the grid in sufficient ways to create interest).

So, anyway, I don't know if that helps you understand what you're seeing, but just so you know, I had fun with these projects. Hard for me to wrap my head around but lots of fun in the making.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Heinz Hall

So, I went home this weekend to hear my brother play with the Penn State Symphonic Wind Ensemble IN HEINZ HALL! Sweet.

Okay, so, some background. Heinz Hall is almost exclusively the venue for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh's version of Carnegie Hall... less prestigious but no less grandiose. There are stucco flowers gilt with gold paint all over the place, the hall is three stories high, and there is no lack of crystal chandeliers, let me tell you. Their choir shell is spectacular, and no matter how far away you are from the stage, you can hear every little thing that the musicians do.

For more information about the PSO and more pictures of Heinz Hall, visit the PSO's Website.

And, I have to tell you that I had forgotten how good the music sounds in there: warmer, crisper. Hearing Matt play made me wish that I still had the time and the money to go hear the PSO.

BUT, bonus, Mutti and I had general admission tickets, which meant that we got to sit anywhere that we wanted. Now, I must mention that every time I've been to Heinz Hall to see the PSO, I sat in the nose-bleed section... and I'm not just using that as a cute, little term... I'm talking three stories up, touching the back of the auditorium seating. I always had fun sitting up there... but there's nothing that can beat five rows back from the stage courtesy of Penn State.

So, anyway, back to the real reason for this post: since I got to sit so close, I got a front row seat for my brother's performance. He had a semi-solo in the Ensemble's first piece, and when he stood up in recognition, he looked so proud and happy. And he looked so spiffy in his tux. And I was so happy that I could be there. AWESOME! It was so awesome, I almost cried, no joke... getting to hear my brother play in Heinz Hall. It was a religious experience.