Nothing like being thorough: how we make decisions, slowly

Last night Hiba, Danielle and I met to do some more prep work on the letters for the Letter Library launch on June 21st. We painted another test letter E a different shade of grey and started to populate a wall with some more of the tests. It was excellent to see more than a few letters up at once to start to get a sense of the scale of the cluster.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (1)

Danielle tried her hand at cutting the letters for a little while, but we quickly shifted over to more tests, while also playing catch up and talking through some other projects we want to kick off later this summer.

Styrofoam letters, white walls, night time guerilla art (2)

We head out with a grey letter E and a two-tone S.

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This was around 9pm or later … so we didn’t get a read of this shade of grey in the harsher sunlight. There’s something interesting about the grey — certainly it doesn’t pop like the white (or the black really for that matter), but it feels a bit more anchored.

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We also put up a white letter Y. It’s no surprise it stands out the most, outside.

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Danielle moves the letters around to other locations.

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YES, more often.

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Hiba, Lucy, and I returned earlier this morning. Hiba installed some rows of white letters to get a better sense of how they’ll look on the walls.

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We also figured it might make them easier to paint and not take up every square inch of walking space while we continue to prep.

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Taping the letters.

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Meanwhile, Lucy takes on the jig saw.

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We’re going to play a lot with the lighting.

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Letters temporarily installed on a couple of the walls. We’ll end up putting them a lot closer together on the final install.

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We’re still planning to paint the faces white to remove the black lines left over from tracing.

The effects are interesting — about what I expected where they feel more a part of the wall than objects to take out and distribute. Of course, getting closer to the letters easily reveals that they’re styrofoam, but we’ll have to work out a really straight-forward set of instructions to carry out the project.

The plan going forward — finish cutting the letters today and Monday, start (and hopefully finish) painting Monday, start clean-up and install Tuesday, and do all the other prep by Thursday morning, giving us the better part of the day for contingency.

Designing & Prototyping tools for intervention: Letter Library + Gif Party

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (1)

Wednesday afternoon shifts into further work on testing the efficacy of the styrofoam letters being black. We’re trying to decide in anticipation of our Letter Library (A Collection of Alphabetic Interventions).

 

Styrofoam letter tests for our Letter Library Project (2)

Sara and Hiba painted.

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HELLO.

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Also, Kiki came by to help us paint the movable wall!

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And, Josh made these for a workshop he’s giving through our friends at the Arts Council Windsor & Region.

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The pile of cut-offs.

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After the letters dried, I went outside and started to do some test installation. The black works well in the space, but outside, the shadows can destroy some of the legibility.

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On lighter surfaces though, it works well.

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Those shadows are difficult though.

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From across the street.

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On glass.

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Inside, we discuss the possibility of keeping the letters white, but using a black background to help them stand out.

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This could work, but would be a huge pain installing. This remains unresolved.

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On to other ideas … we start wondering about creating a tool to assist with installing the letters in high places.

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An old dental tool and some tape for the test.

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It works fairly well…

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But, it needs refining.

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Some evidence of where the letters were punctured.

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Gash.

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So, Josh starts a redesign.

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And Sara left notes about what to finish up on the postcard.

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A detail of Josh’s latest design for our letter installation tool.

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For a quick demo, a dust pan will suffice.

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It will cradle the letter, but also act as a brace to help stick the letter to the wall.

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Josh testing.

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The scrap and push.

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Looks promising.

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It works!

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Josh demonstrates the techinque.

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Then, another revision…

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It’s though that we need the option to have a smaller surface to work with letters that will not stand up on their own in the dust pan scenario.

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Out the door…

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…more tape.

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A reaching test.

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Adjusting the placement of the letter on the screw.

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Attempt #2.

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And it’s up!

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The letter O.

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Josh reviews the rig.

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Then, loftier attempts.

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And, in closing … some animated gifs from Hiba, Kevin, and Josh’s scrape dust-pan attempts.

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Yes, it was a good day.

Nail polish solution to jigsaw blade visibility troubles

Jigsaw rig into half ban saw with nail polish as visibility improver (1)

The rig Kevin built has been slightly improved. We added some shims (made of styrofoam) to raise the table top and added this slick coat of red nail polish.

Jigsaw rig into half ban saw with nail polish as visibility improver (2)

The blade was basically disappearing when we were cutting the styrofoam, so hopefully this fixes it. Also, makes any bloodshed less conspicuous.

Jigsaw rig into half ban saw with nail polish as visibility improver (3)

Nice lines … thanks table top reverse half ban jig saw!

Tracing Letters (two sets)

Still a ways to go, but here’s how far we are in tracing the letters. Then, we cut.

A Week in the Studio: Some Documentation and Reflections on Last Week at CIVIC SPACE

While we prepare for the launch of CIVIC SPACE on June 21st with the Letter Library project, we’re also settling into a routine of being in the space at 411 Pelissier. The idea of having a space of our own is really new to us. Four years after starting BCL by meeting in the classrooms at the School of Visual Arts in the summer, and our backyards, living rooms, and a bunch of coffee shops and restaurants, we’re realizing an intensity in our work that was basically impossible before.

Never much of a studio collective, per se, we’re now enjoying the shared space and time, and it’s impacting everything we’re doing. More time together means more time for ideas, concerns, and conversations to work themselves out rather than trying to get through everything in one sitting. In the past, meeting altogether just once a week narrowed our collective time and often translated into a very stop and go process — there was a lot that was happening, but it existed as reports, reflections, or to-do lists that never really got done.

Of course, we’re also only experiencing one side of having this time and space together. When CIVIC SPACE launches next week, we’ll be entering into a new dynamic with the wider community as well.

This dynamic will be necessarily different than our past projects like Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation — that was a very intense concentrated thirty days of open door programming at a time and in a place that was challenged by the construction happening just outside our doors. CIVIC SPACE will aim to meet and respond to the possibilities of collectivizing around creative responses to the community in front of us.

On the ground, this will translate into fairly regular weekly programming — these will start as small events and opportunities to connect with other people towards exploring art as a position from which we can become engaged in the spatial and civic practices that shift constantly in the background of our experiences of the city.

Of course, the legibility of these events as such will be most pronounced from the longest view of the project. In front of us, these weekly “events” will be simply opportunities to spend time together (and together includes you). Increasingly, we’re understanding our work not as a way to fix a city, but as a way to fix the ways that we act (and assume we can act) within it.

But until next week, here’s a look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

First off, Drift v1.5 has been submitted to the App store for approval. While the wait time is something around 7-10 days, it’s super exciting to do the actual submission part of it.

Kevin has been working on building a rig for our window so that we can change the window display more frequently, while also keeping it flexible to start screenings.

Remnants of an afternoon of cutting out letters.

Hiba and Rosina working in parallel. Hiba holds a two-sided page of a to-do list. Rosina pulls cards from her wallets as she works on the design of the Letter Library card.

Hiba and I also work on some writing. So early in the process, and so wide. We’ll submit later this month to Evental Aesthetics.

Rosina’s mastering Illustrator.

Kevin meets more drywall. We built a moveable wall that’s still waiting to be moveable. But in the meantime, it’s getting a coat of mud and paint.

Just a small number of the letters we’ll have ready for you to use as part of our Letter Library project on June 21st.

Hiba showing off her jigsaw skills with an expertly crafted B.

An evening session with Sara, Danielle and Kevin. Felt nice to meet in the space when the street was quiet. It’s not always great to have to break up the group so much, but on the other side, often small groups share more, faster.

An early jigsaw rig.

Wall to wall Kevin.

We made a table from MDF and sawhorses, but it’s probably our most favourite table ever.

One letter set of Super Scrabble has 200 letters. We’re aiming to make two of these.

O, curves.

Josh and Hiba spend Friday afternoon temporarily installing some letters to make this.

Kevin with more drywall mud.

The Letter Library. Some masking tape stuck these styrofoam letters to a brick wall all afternoon. We love how light these are!

Masking tape prep.

Josh places the maiden letter on the wall.

The side of our building.

Up and down the ladder, Josh uses just his eye to line up the entire text.

The brick pattern helped.

Hiba and Josh in the alley.

A serious man.

We’re still trying to decide if these letters are going to be painted white, or black, or something else entirely.

Inside, Kevin works the surface of chipboard to a super smooth finish.

Josh’s kerning was spot on for Helvetica, but maybe a bit too loose initially for the amount of wall space we had.

So, Josh made a lot of adjustments, but eventually got it all to fit really well.

Between drywall mud layers, Kevin also mocked up this jigsaw rig. Despite our experience with jigsaws (we used them to cut out the letters for Reflect on Here), they get really heavy after a while.

So, we had the idea to basically turn the jigsaw into a half ban saw (or something like that). Kevin went to work on it.

Outside, Josh continues the install.

The letters remaining.

And finally, it’s done. We can’t wait to see how people use these letters to caption different parts of the city.

Kevin’s work on the jigsaw rig …

Crude, but it does the job. He finished the rig later on Friday night and it’s now waiting for us to start cutting styrofoam without breaking our wrists. We have to cut about 40 letters a day to hit our target.

We’re at the space from about 11am to 4pm everyday. If you’re in the neighbourhood, stop by. We’re also going to have a painting party to get these letters finished for next Thursday — interested? Let us know.

Early Research: Letters from Styrofoam (letter library)

These are early days for a spontaneous new project, but here’s how we’re starting. Rosina, Hiba, and I met on Friday and after going through our usual to-do list, we started discussing some new projects. These new projects are all going to be tied together, and we’ll be writing about what that tie might look like soon.

The starting point for this new project — maybe called the Letter Library Project, or maybe something very different — came from thinking about how we might collectively be framing the city of Windsor as it transitions (slowly) and what we might want to reframe, piece by piece. The city is once again at the top of the unemployment statistics, but there are some large infrastructural projects that are going to dramatically change the physicality of the city itself and in turn, the way we experience it, though it remains to be seen if this will actually change the city, or just reframe it for us.

And the background of this project might actually go back even a bit further, in terms of material, as Rosina and I had met earlier in the week to talk about working on some signage. Research led us to wanting to experiment with styrofoam — givens its rigidity and ease to work with.

We saw a lot of videos online of people cutting styrofoam into different shapes (and certainly letters) with hot wires, electric knives, and yes jigsaws.

We had a jigsaw and so we went to it. The styrofoam we got was packaged at Home Depot as basically made for crafts and very small home projects. We weren’t sure that it would be dense enough for the cuts — at the time, we had assumed that the denser (and pink) insulation type of styrofoam would work better, but it was too expensive to bother testing with.

Given the scale of what we’re planning to do, the cost would have been enormous, so we went with the cheaper stuff to just get a feel for possible scale and process, even if the material itself may need to be changed down the road. But, as you can see above, the jigsaw with a 24 TPI metal blade did the trick and cut the styrofoam with a decent level of precision without the messy edges we had anticipated.

Hiba and I both took some test cuts before deciding to attempt a more complex shape.

We selected the letter R for a test.

Hand-drawn for now.

Rosina made the cuts.

Easy.

Rosina with the saw.

Hiba arrived a few minutes later.

We had a test letter.

Another bonus of this type of styrofoam was the thickness allows the letter to stand up.

I think Rosina was really happy.

The cuts were fairly good, though we briefly wondered about finding a better way to avoid an angle on the edge of the letters — that is, the face of the depth of each letter would undulate a bit as we failed to hold the saw consistently at 90 degrees. A ban saw would be good for this, but it’s not essential.

I was trying to get a sense of how much we were moving the saw and what the effect was on the angle of the depth.

The letter R moves into the wild…

… and then returns for a quick coat of paint.

Spray paint would eat the styrofoam, but craft paint was no problem.

More painting.

The letter R dries.

Then, some duct tape.

Given how incredibly light-weight the styrofoam is, duct-tape makes for a great mounting device. On brick.

On wood.

On metal.

On a tree didn’t work as well, there wasn’t a lot of surface area for the tape.

So, that’s the very early stages of a new project. The next steps will be cutting out a bunch of letter templates with the vinyl cutter in card stock, stencilling, cutting, and then a painting party, and then the project launch. Assuming all goes to plan.

And then there’s this … more soon.