Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bay-in-a-box or Slinky Maps

I am very excited to have finished these two pieces. One is Quebec Harbour and one is Dublin Bay, both are nautical charts (1970s reprints of 1860s charts), the real things with little notes from the Captain jotted here and there. Printed on wonderful heavy creamy paper with an energetic spring to it.

I have exploited the spring by making a 'meander' out of each map so that folded up they make a tight cubic shape full of coiled energy. When you open the handmade box covered with the rest of the map the meander springs out (just like in the photo) and if you are holding the box high enough, it slithers right out like a slinky. Remember those big floppy spring toys that would take the stairs one at a time? Just like that. If you want to, you can unfold the meander and lay it out flat and see the chart in all it's Victorian etched beauty.

These are fun to make and fun to play with but I haven't done any for a few months because of the Twilight Zone of my metal rulers. I have four long metal rulers, straight edges (supposedly) of either 60 or 100cm length. (I also have a cute baby 15cm rule which is my favourite because it hasn't entered the Twilight Zone (yet, touch wood)). Every single one of these rulers has warped, some within days of entering my studio. Most of my work is small scale and so a fraction of a milimetre's warping is neither here nor there, but these meanders depend on long cuts that have to be perfectly straight and at perfect right angles. After wrecking a couple of maps I gave up trying.

Then the other day I audited my metal ruler collection and discovered that each has one side which is not warped. The three 60cm rulers have straight inch sides and warped centimeter sides. 100 cm rule is straight on the cm side, which is my measurement of preference.* I carefully marked every warped edge in my collection with an indelible red X, took a deep breath and started cutting a meander with a reliable straight edge. It worked! There's no stopping me now.

If you would like to buy Dublin-Bay-In-A-Box or Quebec-Harbour-In-A-Box or want to commission Your-Favourite-Place-In-A-Box, just send me an email via my website and your wish is my command (contents of my map collection permitting). These are $45 each, which in NZ included P&P. What a bargain!

*I think mine was the first year of New Zealand school children to be taught only metrics and not imperial measurements so I am totally lost when it comes to inches and their silly fractions. Yet most how-to-make-books books come from North America and are full of 6/32" type measures which I have to convert to milimetres cos that's just ridiculous to be working in 32nds of an inch when there are perfectly good milimetres available.

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