Primary Tools & Materials:
PAPER, SEWING MACHINE

Additional Tools & Materials: thread, die cutting machine, die cutting software, ruler, xacto blade, camera

Today paired textile machinery and paper. This was the first time I've attempted to sew paper on a sewing machine, and I wasn't sure how it would do. I used three different weights of paper, just in case card stock was too thick. 

The idea for this letter was to play with the idea of symmetry. I have seen beautiful examples of entire alphabets made by cutting half the letter out of paper then folding it in such a way that the fold plus the negative space creates the letter. I'm fascinated by these kinds of alphabets, and I wanted to try it on a small scale today. 

I started with four existing fonts whose Ys were (roughly) symmetrical. I loaded them into my Silhouette die cutting software and deleted one side of the Y, so that the machine would only cut out one half of the letter. Then I used a ruler and the back of my xacto blade to score the Ys down the middle for a crisp fold. When folding it over - presto! - the letter is complete, and yet missing half of its shape in the negative space. For some letters, I used my sewing machine to better define the "floating" side which I left floating in the first and second examples (images 1-5). In the first one, I used a simple straight stitch to mark the central inline shape of the letter, then followed the fold down the center. In the right light, the holes left by the sewing machine cause this inline to glow. In the second example, (images 3-5), I used the thread to outline the shadow of the folded part of the letter. Depending on the direction of light, this letter can appear in full light (image 3,) half in shadow with the "floating edge" straight up and down, dividing the two sides (image 4), or completely in shadow, backlit from behind the "floating" edge (image 5). 

In the other studies I folded the floating edge flat, then used the sewing machine both to hold it down, and either outline the whole letter or strengthen the folded edge through the effect of a shadow or inline stroke. In image 8, I had hoped my sewing machine would do a wide enough zig zag stroke to create a floating stitch over the negative space on the top right of the Y. Unfortunately it didn't. I will definitely try that the next time I do a study like this. 

To me, most noteworthy in this study is the variation that can be accomplished through lighting when one side of the letter is left "floating." Lighting can change the entire structure of this delicate letterform - which would make a whole alphabet in this style a very versatile typeface. I can imagine three faces in the family - one fully "open" with the floating edge folded flat, one "neutral," half in shadow with the floating edge straight up, and one "closed," with the whole letterform enveloped in shadow.