Saturday, 3 February 2018

Patchery pt. 2

(For part 1, look here.)

I stopped making patches for a while, because I was busy doing other things, and it started to frustrate me a bit too much. Mainly the interchange between my Illustrator file and what the embroidery software spat out. All sorts of oddities were generated, and trying to correct them was just too time consuming.

Took it up again a few weeks ago. I still get some weirdness occasionally when I convert to an embroidery file. But I’ve learned some ways to work around it. I also try to forego filling an entire background with embroidery, rather letting the background show through. I’ve also realized the old tattoo adage of “bold will hold” is a good one to follow. I generally do pretty iconic images, and try to avoid cutting out really complex shapes. I’ve also learned that a file for printing and a file for embroidery are two very different things. I’m still just using scraps of 420D nylon. Not sure if that’s the recommended material, but I have loads of it, and it seems to work okay.


Canoehead, or more properly, the portage sign. I still don’t have the means of merrowing the edge, so I still cheat by doing a satin line around the edge, cut very close, singe then ends with a lighter, and then colour the edge with a marker or acrylic paint. Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

Death’s Head Moth.

A name tape for myself, using one of my typeface designs. (Which I realized I did 25 years ago. Yikes. Where does the time go?)

And my logo as a patch.
Here you can see looping stitches that occur some times. I just cut them away and singe them. Not sure what causes it or how to prevent it.

Two different apertures. (The top one shows an anomaly that occurs sometimes; the bobbin thread showing through. Nothing a black marker can’t fix though.)

This might be a good time to show some of the glitches generated by the embroidery software.

This is what you see when you first convert your file. (This is Janome’s Digitizer software.)
Go to “TrueView” and this shows. Huh?
Zoom in. No rhyme or reason for it.
My high tech fix? Flip the image in Illustrator, and it shows up just fine. Huh? Like I said, no rhyme or reason to it.

I’ve spent 30 years off and on as a graphic artist and pre-press tech, so I wanted a CMYK crosshairs.
Still have to finish the edges. Tatami in the quadrants, satin for the ring and crosshairs.

In the yellow quadrant you can see what happens a fair bit on curves. It forms the outer ring by first drawing an outline and then going back and forth over that. For whatever reason, there’s a section that isn’t covered. Don’t know if the embroidery of the four tatami sections changes the tension of the fabric that much, if there is slack in the fabric, if it’s a structural flaw in the embroidery file... Not sure. 

Did one with the “Satin” setting (on the left), and one with the “3D Satin” setting (on the right). The first was 4629 stitches, and the other was 13445 stitches.

Predacon logo for a friend. Thought I’d try it with variegated thread.

A S.T.A.L.K.E.R. PMC faction subdued patch for a friend.

Crummy old one I did a few months ago on the right, new and improved one on the left. The old RCAF roundel.

Rendezvous on Champs Elysées
Leave Paris in the morning with T.E.E. 
Trans... Europe... Express... 

The patch on the right was one I did about a half year ago. Made it too small and there was too much infill. Learning as I go. Went back and opened areas up to avoid that, and made it larger. 

Now I have myself a Kraftwerk patch!


As a type dork, one of my favourite characters is the Ampersand. This one is from a House Industries T-shirt that I wore to destruction. Will probably get another one at some point, but stole the design for a patch for myself. Sorry House.

An old Mac icon.

First attempt at a Technics turntable patch. Too small, and all the dots on the side of the platter blaed together.
 Really thick lettering. Not good.
Attempt # 2. Larger, and I made the dots and type smaller, to compensate for the bleed that occurs. You can see how much curl there is on the first one.

Sigil of Baphomet for a friend.
And sorry to all you religious people that I’m making you look at this again, but it demonstrates a point. You can see the colours here do not match the above image in the slightest. The reason I do that is that the screen that comes up on the embroidery machine itself is tiny, and doesn’t give a great representation of the colours. Especially if the colours are in any way similar (two reds and an orange, say), it’s really hard to distinguish between them. Giving them bright, contrasting colours makes it easier to figure out which is which. I can put whatever colour of thread I want on there, and this just makes it a bit easier to figure out on the screen.

Some Star Wars patches I made for a friend.

It’s true. I do.
Another example of the oddball, “why you do that!” things the embroidery software does. Go into Illustrator, flip the image, flip the I ♥ LEGO back, import it again and ... weird fill is gone. Makes no sense.

On the left is an attempt from about a half year ago. I tried a smaller one 4 up in the hoop and then I tried a larger one 1up in the hoop. I got that misalignment at the top right of the O and the bottom left of the L on both. I managed to cheat and black the area in with a marker, because gosh darnit, I really wanted a Lego patch. Tried it again, this time with some red material rather than trying to fill in a whole background. Much better this time.
Some more inexplicable weirdness. I created this file in Illustrator, and yet when I brought it in to Janome’s Designer, it assigned a tatami fill to the L, and satin to the E, G, and O.
Looking closer, you can see that the area behind the L is knocked out, but not for the E, G, and O. Huh? Went in, and I managed to remove that area behind the L so that there was now a solid black and changed the L to be satin as well.


I doubt I’ll ever stop finding the Golden Ratio fascinating.

Ryan Adams for a friend.

Hard to tell from the photo, but the patch is the same size as my beloved Swiss Army Knife. (A Huntsman I’ve had for 25 years in case you’re curious.)

View-Master reel.

Glock patch for a friend. I’ll make one for myself to antagonize the hippies.

I was a huge 4AD fan in my teens. Would buy records sound unheard just because it was on the label. Earlier efforts to turn a vector file into an embroidery file ended with a WTH file. Made some changes and this one was a FTW file.

Not perfect. They never are. The white and black one stair stepped a bit along the top, and the grey and black one had the thread get messed up in one area. I can fix it.

Still...I got a 4AD patch!

Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas Eve

Walked to the home of friends last night to celebrate how much cheeses love us. The walk there was magical – no sound but that of snow crunching underfoot, the soft ticking of snow on my hood - and church bells ringing in the distance. And at midnight, it was even more magical. Thoroughly toasted, I wandered around Dundurn Castle and the cemetery for an otherworldly hour.
 The garden.
The Dundurn dovecote.
Cemetery gatehouse.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Happy Accident Fire Truck

For thirty years I’ve been clapping gleefully whenever something visual screws up.

The blurry, or double exposed, photos Black’s didn’t charge you for. The odd shapes formed at the edges on stat cam prints by the bulbs when you really shrunk something down. Postscript printers deciding it didn’t like your file and spitting out pixelated mayhem. PMT prints that didn’t work and left strange patterns and colour fades. Early monitors that would sometimes show a chopped up version of the file you were working on as you zoomed out, and stay there long enough to get a screenshot of. Images after they’ve been stapled to a phone pole for a half year. Run up sheets from offset presses, with oddly juxtaposed type and images.

I’ve got a huge file of this kind of stuff. Not used so frequently, but when you can find a use for this sort of randomly generated imagery for something, terrific.

Happy accidents I called them.

A bunch of years back I was home one morning when a fire truck parked between calls on the quiet cul-de-sac I lived on. Went out to say hi and snap some photos as reference for possibly building a Lego version. (Still haven’t gotten around to it.) Somewhere along transferring them between camera and various storage mediums, the entire folder of images got truncated.

PhotoShop can’t do anything other than show a narrow strip along the top. If PS can’t open it...that’s saying something. Single previews don’t work, but for some inexplicable reason, opening them all at once showed me this riotous collage of strips of stuttering colour. Took screenshots of the expanded screen, because other wise these are inaccessible.

“Accident is the greater part of art, not design.” – Aleister Crowley