The lessons inside “By Hand & Eye” cannot be learned by reading alone, any more than you can learn to cut dovetails from a book.
You must put pencil to paper so the book’s ideas about proportion will become physical things on the page before you. Then the ideas will be in your fingers – not just your mind. When I was editing “By Hand & Eye,” I had to perform these exercises to gain entrance into the heads of Jim Tolpin, George Walker and the pre-Industrial artisans. (Many of the exercises were done at a bar in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, which generated a lot of odd looks from fellow passengers.)
It was well-worth doing and has absolutely made me a better designer.
This week we had a reader who was struggling with the first drawing exercise in the book called “Making a Visual Scale.” In that exercise, you are asked to make seven rectangles using a compass, straightedge and pencil. Tolpin and Walker are purposely a little obtuse about the process to make the rectangles because it’s important that you make a small mental leap yourself.
To help the reader, George offered a small nudge on his blog yesterday in this entry. If you have been struggling with this exercise (or skipped it – naughty, naughty), here’s the chance to wake up your inner eye this Saturday. Give it a cup of coffee.
For those of you who don’t own the book, here are the four pages from the book in pdf format so you can try it yourself.
If you like this sort of thing, you are going to be thrilled by an upcoming and inexpensive workbook from Tolpin and Walker. The workbook answers this question: Can you learn design from a cartoon dog? More details to come.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. “By Hand & Eye” is back in stock in the Lost Art Press store after we sold out of the last printing.
If you put your work out on display, you will receive criticism.
There’s the favorable: “Will you sell it to me?”
And the not-so-good: “Wow, that is a nice piece of oak you used.”
I’m used to it, and it doesn’t phase me. But I try not to let the comments of others color my own opinion – good or bad – of my work. I let my photographs do that. When I finish a prototype, it’s helpful to photograph the piece against a plain backdrop. No photographic lights, scrims, gridspots, filters or Photoshop. Just a camera set to f22 on a tripod and flat, overhead fluorescent shop lighting.
I pick a few stock vantage points and try to position the camera where viewers will stand. I take a half-dozen photos and look at them on screen and (more importantly) print them out so I can draw on the printouts.
Today I took a few minutes to record this backstool prototype. What do I see? The seat can be smaller and I’m going to futz with its D-shape a little. I’m happy with the crest rail. And the rake and splay of the legs works, functionally and visually. I’m still getting used to the fact that the chair has only three legs, but it’s sort of growing on me.
Anyone, the next iteration will have a smaller seat. Time to draw some new shapes on the printouts.
As of now, we are back at full stock on all our books and sweatshirts. Here are the details:
The third printing of “By Hand & Eye” arrived at our warehouse this morning. The demand for this book has remained surprisingly strong. Just when we think sales are plateauing, they increase. The authors, Jim Tolpin and George Walker, have two cool surprises in store for you this year. You can find one hint here.
Also this week, we received shipment of the third revised edition of Christian Becksvoort’s “With the Grain.” This third edition adds details on 10 trees not found in earlier editions. If you have an earlier edition of the book, here are the 20 pages that you can print out and insert into your current copy.
Finally, our new sweatshirts are back in stock in all sizes from small to 2XL. We have switched to Royal Apparel to supply our sweatshirts, which are American-made and of good quality. This sweatshirt is similar in almost all of the characteristics of our earlier sweatshirts, but John reports the fabric feels a bit heavier. This will likely be our last offering of sweatshirts for the season. So if you want one, get them before it gets warm outside and we switch to Lost Art Press Speedos.