Sunday, 24 July 2011

Hand made

I finished the Play & Learn Resource packs for Nottingham Contemporary.  There are six packs, all delivered to the Contemporary and already being shown to various potential users.

Also, in my collaborative project Undiscovered Networks, Carole and I are just about finished making the maps as a result of the Wellbeing Walks project (visit the blog for the full story).

Hand drawing maps for Wellbeing Walks
There is something about the handmade that is special.  The Play & Learn packs have been well received so far, partly because of the tactile quality of them as they have been hand printed.  You can feel (and still smell!) the textures of the inks, the green is smooth to the touch, the cotton fabric is rougher, the gold colour has a slight sheen.  They feel substantial in the hand, and each one is slightly different and unique.

Although we are having to reproduce all our items for the Undiscovered Networks project, Carole and I did agree from the beginning that we wanted everything to have been hand made originally and to look that way.

Hand printing with Carole for Undiscovered Networks
There is something I like about making things that are intended for the corporate and branded but making them by hand, putting my own spin on it (Nottingham Contemporary has its own distinct branding look, and in Undiscovered Networks we are responding to the branding of the rail companies).  Instead of the polished, perfect look of the digital and reproductive print, the hand made has that personal touch.  With the Play & Learn packs I've stayed within the branding guidelines but everything is slightly off-set, the motifs are repeated but in a different sequence each time, the edges are sometime slightly blurry and you can tell that everything is hand cut.

The result is something that seems friendly, softened, that seems to carry my signature, or my "touch".  Somehow I feel this puts me in touch with the people who might pick it up and use it.  I introduced the packs to a group of family tutors last week, and just watching them open up the pockets and explore the packs, stroking the tactile surfaces with their fingers, somehow I felt the fact that I made these with my own hands and then passed them into their hands gave me a closer connection to the way they will be used.

It's exciting to launch something like this into the world.  I shall be watching with interest who uses them and how.

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