My Climate Data Tablet is finished, and it has a different presentation than earlier tablets. Before we get to the back story and details of this design, let me explain....
Sarah Vowel recently wrote an article in the NY Times titled A University of, by and for the People. She describes Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, a land grant college which has provided a great, affordable education to many people. One of the people she mentions is Peter Voulkas, a ceramic sculptor who I had never heard of. So I googled him, and read that he developed a kind of “Abstract Expressionist ceramics” Really? I looked up some images:
Now, maybe for those of you who didn't spend years in a ceramics studio, these aren't too impressive. Just like a lightbulb isn't impressive NOW, but back when people were still using candles, a lightbulb was incredible. Voulkas was an artist who helped take ceramics from a useful craft to a high art. By cutting and poking and manipulating the clay - by using the techniques intrinsic to the media - he created ceramic ART. He did with clay what other artists did with paint.
It's that part about using techniques intrinsic to the media that resonates with me. It got me to thinking that my tablets aren't absolutely authentic to the media. And then I remembered something I had learned long ago, about how (medieval?) African warriors had armor made of cloth. You cannot wear metal armor in the hot sun - you'll literally bake. But enough layers of cloth, sewn together, can be quite strong.
So what if, instead of wrapping cloth around sections of ceiling tiles to mount my embroidered images, I used multiple layers of tightly sewn cloth?
I was in Seattle when this idea came to me, and when I got home, I did these first experiments before I unpacked:
Sure, quilted cloth is thick, but you get ugly edges
Woven upholstery cloth has much better edges, relatively easy to hand sew through an inch of them, and YES! after enough sewing, it's strong enough to stand up!
A really cheap old gray woolen blanket is even easier to sew through, has really great edges, and yes, it stands up by itself after enough stitches.
Trying out my finally-just-finished Climate Data Tablet on the wool blanket stack. I think it works. Climate data should be on a stack of materials, not beautifully presented. Below is the Timbuktu Tablet (sibling of Climate Data):
Timbuktu is 'prettier'. Climate data is REAL. I'm going for real. On Wednesday and Friday, I'll explain the story of climate data.
PS: If you go see The Black Panther movie, you might notice how the futuristic architecture in some scenes looks a lot like the library building in this tablet.