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Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

Posted September 04, 2007 1:00 AM by Steve Melito
Pathfinder Tags: industrial archaeology industrial landscapes
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Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Del the Cat for writing this story and sharing his sketches and watercolors of the glassworks in Harlow, England. Cheers, Del!

Overview

These pics were done as the 80s became the 90s. I was Chief Designer at Clement Clarke International then. The industrial area where I worked was being redeveloped, so I spent my lunch hours strolling about and doing sketches. Nearby are a gas works, the glass works, and buildings being knocked down. These sketches were views that caught my eye.

Johnson Matthey

The demolition of Johnson Matthey was interesting as some of the building was brick-built, including the chimney. It drew a good audience as it was knocked down. Unfortunately, I missed the demolition.

The Glassworks Chimneys

This sketch of the glassworks chimneys (1989) shows the guy wires which brace them. These define the triangular shapes in the "Sunny Day" abstract (1990), which grew out of studying the views and sketching.

The Sunny Day Abstract

You just can't tell who will "get" abstract art. The old tea lady liked them, but one guy said "there are no pyramids at the glass works". The lines and shapes are there to be seen. On a sunny day, it is a cheerful and dynamic view.

The style is meant to be abstract, but slightly reminiscent of the railway posters of the 1920s and 1930s. Like many men, my colour vision isn't perfect (slight red/green deficiency), so abstracting the shapes and colours is a way round that. After all, the monochrome of pencil sketches can be a bit sterile.

I used watercolour because I'm not very good with it, and it provided an exercise in trying to apply the colour nicely. The darker colours of the sunset expose my poor technique and look rather blotchy.

The Sunset Picture

The sunset picture is based on a photo I took. There had been some lovely sunsets, so I took my SLR camera and stuck it on a tripod and held the shutter open by guesswork. The picture is great and I had an enlargement done. Unfortunately, since glossy paper is predominantly dark, the reflections spoil it.

I turned it into an abstract, taking out and accentuating the areas of interest. This is an area where a conveyor belt runs up at an angle and the lights show through greenish, corrugated, plastic sheeting. There are also lovely shapes of the spotlight playing on the cylindrical silos, and the silhouetted trees along the adjoining railway line.

The Back of the Factory

The final sketch is just the back of the place I worked. There was an interesting juxtaposition of doors pipes, posts and suchlike. (I have also done that as a rather uninspiring conventional watercolour.)

Ah, that reminds me. I did a "conventional" water colour of the Glassworks Sunny Day view, which my Mum has on her wall. I don't much like it, however. It is poor compared to either the pencil sketch or the abstract, but she wanted it.

Del

Steve Melito - The Y Files

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#1

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/04/2007 7:31 AM

Del, I would be happy to put these on my wall! There are many so call artists who for me just don't catch the essence of it all! When I was younger, I owned (with my ex) a picture framing studio, some of the art that came in was 'not to be too blunt' rubbish but to get the order, it was 'oh how original, the colours capture the mood really well!' So when something good comes along I like to say so! The chimineys are great, and as for your abstracts, can I use one as my screen saver please?

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#2
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/04/2007 3:55 PM

Cheers,

Glad you like 'em....

You certainly may use one for your screen saver!

Del

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#3

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 1:51 AM

Hey, you're a great artist, man, and don't let anyone tell you differently.

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#4

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 3:09 AM

Wonderful Del! Thanks for sharing this with us!

Best Regards,


RF_guy

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#5

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 4:10 AM

Excellent art work Del. Thanks for showing it to us.

Have you ever seen a book called "Shock of the new" by Robert Hughes. It presents a history of modern art and shows how much of the "artistic innovation" was just a reaction to the changing technology of the time. For the first time in history common people got to see things in a new way. The Eiffel tower allowed people to get a birds eye view of the world, high speed machinery could make physical objects seem to blur/disappear, rapid motion (perhaps in a train) meant you could only focus on part of a scene and new photographic techniques (such as multiple exposure) created blocky (cubist) images. Jeff

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#7
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 5:40 AM

I've heard of it, sounds really interesting, I'll have to get my daughter to look it out (she's a librarian).

Cheers

Del

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#6

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 4:51 AM

Hi Del. Your a great artist, love your abstract paintings. Have you missed your true calling? Spencer.

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#8
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 5:46 AM

Thanks...

The art / engineering mix is one of my pet hobby horses. The artifical divide (at some schools) of 'arts' and 'science' is ludicrous.

How many engineers can't produce a decent sketch? Not many I'd guess, to me it's a natural part of being to visualise things and express ideas.

It would be tough to produce art full time...inspiration doesn't allways come when you want! (the dates on the pics are a bit of a give away...) There's so much to do in life it's fun to have hobby stuff which you can enjoy without the pressure of deadlines.

Del

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#9
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 6:43 AM

Can I volunteer myself as an engineer who can't draw? My sketches get the ideas across but would never qualify as art. Your drawings are great, especially as it must be quite hard to hold the pencils in your paws.

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#10
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 6:48 AM

Hi Del. You are so right, my hobby for the last forty years has been mineralogy and the study of minerals, as I am now retired it is only that which has kept me so young and active. I now have a huge collection of worldwide minerals and it has actually helped me in engineering, mainly in the way of understanding metals and other elements. Keep up the good work. Spencer.

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#11
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 8:03 AM

Del, I may have sent this in before... After WW II, when we were rebuilding Japan, and especially their industry, the Japanese asked for, and received, permission to send a group of engineers over to tour some of our automotive assembly plants. They were given permission, with the stipulation NO CAMERAS!!! The engineers toured the plants, and after the tours, retired to their hotel rooms and drew everything they saw! The Russians just recruited spies.

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#21
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 5:00 PM

In the 1980's they did it to us again, this time WITH cameras! So many American companies, during an economic downturn, with great new product technology, but often with less developed manufacturing processes, were looking to increase foreign sales, acquire fresh financing, and penetrate the inscrutable Japanese home market, with its web of interconnecting companies. To do so they buddied up to, and often formed "joint ventures" with, many Japanese companies.

In 1981 I went to work for a company at a plant in the Midwest which produced primarily flat ribbon connectors for the electronics and computer industries. We were told to be courteous and helpful when engineers from the newly partnered Japanese company arrived one day. They took pictures of everything in our plant, but where they spent the most time was in our "development room", where new processing techniques and new machinery were tried out before being moved out to the factory floor.

A year or so later, we found out that our overall exports to Japan were down, especially in the newer, higher technology products which we had just installed new equipment to produce. This was because the "partner" had engaged in "cherry picking", not being interested in our older, lower-priced "commodity" lines, which our management had expected to get a boost from increased Japanese sales. They were not interested in importing more than a token amount, but very interested in producing, in Japan, our latest designs with our latest technology.

We shot ourselves in the foot!

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#51
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

11/19/2009 3:00 AM

Nice work, Del... I'm a great fan of art -especially of modern art- (and I make some drawings too)... Cheers...

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#12
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 9:36 AM

<How many engineers can't produce a decent sketch? Not many I'd guess, to me it's a natural part of being to visualise things and express ideas.>

You are a visionary artist, charitable ,kind, humane,sensitive,generous. That's what you are .And you accept all that goes by name "Modern" . And you keep CR4 so lively . Great to be in your company!

MM

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#13
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 9:44 AM

Del will be wrapped around your feet, purrin and pumpin those paws of his in a few minutes so watch out! (Screen saver looks great, I've used the abstract one!)

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#14
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 9:53 AM

Thank you very much...

(I am indeed purring ! )

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#15
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 10:05 AM

Go on, fill yer little cotton socks! I caught it just for you!

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#16
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 10:27 AM

Prrrmp chomp munch mak prrrup.

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#44
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

11/14/2007 10:54 AM

Truman

I am curious what kind of fish that is. Size wise I would guess it to be a salmon, but it has different lines than any I see on the Pacific coast. Damn nice fish though.

Bill

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#45
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

11/14/2007 12:58 PM

Or maybe a huge trout?

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#52
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

11/19/2009 7:20 AM

Art and science definitely go together in my world. I've have always been fascinated by science and have always loved creating whatever I want through art. I've been this way since I was a kid. Art give me an unfettered outlet for creativity. I create my own parameters in art and can experiment as much as I would like. But science has an abstract creativity that is very magical, interesting, and challenging.

But I think math is an art. I think it would be really cool to change a piece of art into a bunch of mathematical equations. I tried this when I was an undergraduate and really involved in calculus. It's cool to think that math and art can be interchangeable.

Very cool. PS I ended up in this blog from the one about math and beauty.

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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

11/20/2009 10:13 AM

Why don't you register, and join us on a regular basis?

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#54
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

11/20/2009 1:00 PM

How do you know he/she isn't ?

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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

11/20/2009 1:50 PM

Actually I don't. I just read the post and ass u me (d). Perhaps Mr/Mrs guest will enlighten us.

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#17

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 11:30 AM

Wow!! An engineer and an artist too. Great sketches and watercolours. I'm impressed.

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#18

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 1:55 PM

Bravo kitty... bravo....very impressed.

So that'd be engineer, comedian AND artist? is there anything you can't do?

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#19
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 2:45 PM

Cheers, you'd better ask Mrs Cat for that list... .

(Actually the rest of the family are musical.... but certainly not me)

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#20
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/05/2007 2:51 PM

And that makes you sad?!? I say you're the perfect complement to the rest of your family....(and I won't bother bothering the misses'....)

Cheers.

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#22

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 6:17 AM

Nice art-work Del, I shall never joke about Harlow again...(much). Maybe you could adapt your paws to a project, I recently saw a calender that SCARS had produced to celebrate the Sankey Canals 250th (each day was tagged with a special date in UK Industrial history) with old photographs etc. You could do something similar - there's loads of great heritage sites that are worth celebrating and publicizing with art. You could take Mrs Cat on a nice holiday tour, and return with Del's Heritage Calendars on-line.

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#23

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 8:49 AM

Very interesting for me as I used to live not far away. Do you have anymore of these pictures to show, i like your descriptions too.

With regard to:-

Unfortunately, since glossy paper is predominantly dark, the reflections spoil it.

There are plenty of high quality papers that take printing well from a good printer, that have no gloss!! Have you tried them?

If you wish, you could send me a copy digitally, I would print it out and return it to you on A4, to see how it turns out!!!

If it looks good and you need it larger, you need to make a really good digital copy of it (scanner) and have it printed on one of these giant inkjet printers used for engineering drawings.....costs a lot but......

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#25
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 11:26 AM

Cheers..the photo was pre digital...I should have specified matt paper..I still have the neg'... but now I have the abstract anyhow!

Those are the best of my pics..I've been doing other stuff recently... a bit of sculpture...but there is always too much decorating, golf, wine etc to think about!

Dunno how would would get a coulour neg' onto digital... I'm sure someone out there could do it....

One day...if I had a top end PC and a huge monitor and some decent photo/art software........

Ta for the offer!

Del

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#28
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 11:56 AM

Dunno how would would get a coulour neg' onto digital... I'm sure someone out there could do it....

Del,

Many drugstores (Chemists) here in the US have photo services where they will put color negatives into digital format for a modest fee (usually on a CD-ROM). If Chemist shops do not do that in Britain, your local photo shop should be able to do it.

You could also do this yourself with a negative or slide viewer (light table) and a high Mega-pixel digital camera on a tripod. Results may not be as good as the professional job though. Once you have digitized the negative, there are lots of software apps that will do the negative/positive inversion, including MS Photo Editor, which may be included in your MS Office package or come bundled with your Windows OS (2000, XP, etc.)

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#36
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 2:15 PM

Cheers for the info...

Now I see your miner avatar chap is carrying a slide rule!.... couldn't see it before...them wus the days..none of these new fangled calclyaters.

Del

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#29
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 12:08 PM

If it is 35mm, it is relatively easy, I place it in my 35mm film scanner and tell it that it is a color negative, it then scans at nearly 2750 dpi!!! Quite simple really if you have the kit!!!The results are pleasing.

Some more modern ones scan at double that!! Mine is a few years old......

A normal flat bed scanner with a film holder will scan too, but usually no where near these DPI rates....but it does depend on the scanner, some modern ones are getting quite good...

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#30
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 12:28 PM

A3 flatbed scanners and specs

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#31
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 12:36 PM

Ah..I see why I sketch and paint...it's cheaper!

Hey it's good the way we've end up getting to some technical/engineer/photo discussion!

The user interface still has a way to go to be as quick and intuitive as pencil/paint. The pen/tab interface is pretty good...It would be fun to play with some top end stuff. I recall many years back on the TV they got some top artists playing with a top end program (probably pretty basic by todays standards) the comments were pretty lukewarm. One problem is, as resolution increases it's easy to get sucked ito a tiny area of a picture...you need a display as big as the artwork.....

Hmmm just how many dpi is a pencil and the human hand/eye?

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#32
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Re: Harlow’s Glass works: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 12:46 PM

As I said in an earlier post, flatbed scanners are not the best for scanning 35mm films of any sort, a specialist 35mm scanner is significantly better, especially in terms of color temperature....Flatbed are a poor second, especially if you want to eventually print a large image and need the "mega-pixels".

This is not just my own idea, I read the comparison tests in various magazines over here, and they tell me that.

All flatbed scanners have to "look" through a glass plate, that is one of the major differences... Film scanners look directly at the film/slide provided you have not put the film between glass in a slide holder!!! In this case, it is better to have a cheap mounting! They even take into account any curvature in the film! Also not possible for a flatbed...all good film scanners use I.C.E. technology combined with special software to make better scans in spite of possible dirt and dust and deformation. I do not believe that I.C.E. technology will work in a flatbed scanner.....I could be wrong of course!

A good film scanner costs new over 1000 pounds sterling (or more!)........and it is just built to do that one job.......you will probably scrape in under the 1000 if you go onto ebay I believe, or buy secondhand.....

(I am going by German market prices, so there is a possibility for errors either way in pricing!)

I hope you find this helpful.....

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#33
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Re: Harlow’s Glass works: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 12:59 PM

My idea was about scanning the drawing/painting directly to a flatbed scanner, instead of photographing it first (with proper lighting and color temperature control, which is required for proper repro-photography), and only then re-scanning the film or slide, into a file.

Eventually, you need a file. The bigger the print, the bigger the file, just to keep the sharp focus.

On a file, you can make many corrections without changing the original

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#34
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Re: Harlow’s Glass works: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 1:19 PM

I did try that first!

But my scanner is a copier/printer/scanner and is fairly low res...so I took 3mpixel photos (it needed a good sunny day else the colours didn't come out right).

I did tinker with the brightness/contrast/saturation/sharpness to try and optimise them, but this was just with a freebie photo package...now't clever.

I've been toying with the idea of simplifying the abstracts down to even fewer colours and shapes..maybe screen printing....but I spoke to someone at a gallery who did lino/wood cuts and it seems just soooo much work... ( and oh so little time ).

Always the trade offs resolution vs time/bandwidth/memory space.

There's always something new to play with...that raster scan soar toaster never got built!

Del

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#38
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Re: Harlow’s Glass works: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 5:19 PM

Del,

The question is about the number of scans you intend to do, to what purpose, and hence the required resolution and color dept.

- If it's a limited number of existing artwork pieces, you may want to consider going to an art and graphics workshop and have a heap of pieces professionally scanned.

- If it's for having this facility to produce repro-files on a regular basis, you may want to consider Andy's advice: use a 6 to 8 megapixel camera, and set up a convenient and accurate reproduction environment:

Frame the pieces tight to a flat surface, and place the pieces in zenith regarding the lens, in order to avoid deformation or aberrations such as darkening corners or trapezoid frames, use xenon lighting or side-flash sources (photographic-flash uses xenon) for accurate colour reproduction, in a cubical with enough room to distance the camera far enough for your biggest pieces, and always use the most extreme tele condition on the zoom feature, to get the flattest image, and to avoid convex (fish-eye) distortions made by wide-angle condition on the zoom.

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#39
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Re: Harlow’s Glass works: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 5:33 PM

Excellent and well thought out advice and put succinctly too!!!

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#40
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Re: Harlow’s Glass works: Industry Meets Art

09/07/2007 2:39 AM

Hey..that reminds me...

Years ago I took a front panel label artwork which I'd done by hand to a 'photo shop' to have it scanned and reduced to 'half size'

I expect you can guess the rest of the story..

I wanted the linear dimensions reduced to half size...

They reduced the label to half the area!

I was not amused...but it's a good illustration (ho ho v punny) of how on business has a standard terminology which is at odds with another.

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#41
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Re: Harlow’s Glass works: Industry Meets Art

09/07/2007 4:26 AM

A bit like the guy I worked with who spent weeks laying out a multi-layer PCB by hand on a 4:1 grid. He decided to run a dye-line copy so he could tick off the interconnections, it took days to remove all of the PCB track layout tape from the perspex roller in the dye-line machine.

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#42
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Re: Harlow’s Glass works: Industry Meets Art

09/07/2007 5:01 AM

Ouch....

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#27
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 11:53 AM

That, or one of those thermal-wax roll photo-plotters, which print these bus-station and wall posters, in A0+ size (upto 140x180 cm with resolutions upto 400 dpi).

For that to be sharp enough to be pleasing the eye, you would need scans of around 14 to 25 megapixel, which is available on Agfa or Scitex A3 scanners

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#24

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 9:14 AM

Oooooh I love the abstracts !!! Del you certainly have talent. Thank you for submitting these images

I really like the way you subtract certain elements from the sketches to form the elements in the watercolors. I also see some humor in the "Sunset" abstract with the short fat trees dressed in darkened colors (reminding me of some of my ex managers).

Oh yes, "Sunny Day" will become my screen saver also.

Please continue to let us view the products of your delightful talent. Del, thanks again. T

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#26

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 11:30 AM

Thanks everyone for all your nind appreciation, sometimes I feel I need to get defensive about modern and abstract art, so I was half expecting support for the sketches and maybe a few blank stares for the sbstracts!

Thanks one and all, you've given me a nice fuzzy/furry glow!

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#35

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 1:50 PM

If you actually have 35mm of any sort of any pictures (or pictures of scenes that you have taken, the Sunset sounds good!!), that is great......if you are photographing digitally your pictures, then may I recommend at least 5 Mega pixel....if someone else says more, I would not disagree. less is not so good above postcard size....

Sony and Canon both have to my mind fairly realistic color in general, other makes also of course, check the tests and comparisons!!

If I can help in any way further, you only have to ask......

Your artwork should be seen by more people.........I know many others think that too!!!!!

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#37
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/06/2007 4:31 PM

Sun-light is one the best color-temperatures for repro-photography (above 6000k), and xenon is very good as well.

Color-reproduction cameras used in studios, usually use xenon-tube lighting, for the job.

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#43

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

09/08/2007 1:39 PM

Wow Del, these are wonderful. I scatter scented petals in your path.

On the digitising subject: I think Boots (other high street chemists are available) offer such a service, it might be worth a try before purchasing all that fun but expensive equipment.

Thanks for sharing. more, Del, more!!

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#46

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

03/31/2008 3:15 PM

You artistic cat you! Glad I happened upon this thread... Will wonders never cease? Hopefully, NO!

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#47

Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

04/02/2008 10:55 PM

I just came across this thread. Great drawings. I have many limitations, and I deal with them as best I can. What I never can accept is when I have devised some way to do something a little differently than before, and want to show it to someone. I can draw it over and over and it always looks like my grandchildren drew it. That is something I wish I could correct. Again great work.

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#48
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

04/03/2008 4:38 AM

You can cheat, a programme called Squiggle will take your CAD drawing & make it look hand drawn.

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#49
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

04/03/2008 8:49 AM

Too bad there's not a program that goes the other way 'round!

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#50
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Re: Harlow’s Glassworks: Industry Meets Art

04/03/2008 10:17 PM

If I run the program backwards can it make my hand drawings look like CAD? I 'll look at Squiggle. It might help instead of drawing freehand. Thanks.

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