Installing in the Oregon Maple, part 2

We decided to install and leave the highest ‘tendon’ in place even though the exhibition is not due to open to the public until Friday the 29th. It would have been too difficult to get back to the same height again. I had decided on mirroring two metal wires, which ran more or less parallel to each other near the topmost branches of the tree.

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See image of the end points of the chosen pair of cables where they are fixed to the tree.

David positioned us and we began cutting, stretching and cable tying the beginning of the length of fabric between the two wires. We continued cable tying the fabric along the length of the wires until the distance between them became impossible to cover. At this point I needed to ‘carve’ the tendon shape into the fabric attaching it’s end points securely to the wires.

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Slide show of different of the piece in situ from various positions as we descended from the heights of the top branches of the Oregon Maple to the ground level.

Having finished finessing this tendon we dropped down to the lower levels of the branches to measure up for the final two tendons. Both of these tendons will run more or less parallel to each other with variations on their angles and will be nearly perpendicular to the highest tendon. David and I again moved into position and began to temporarily tie the other two tendons nearer the base of the trunk and cut the fabric length to size. These sections were taken away to allow the artist to further cut into the fabric, shape it, sew the edges and afix the eyelets.

Images of the final two ‘tendons’ and the complete installation in the Oregon Maple will be available to view after the exhibition opens to the public.

Installing in the Oregon Maple, part 1

The next stage in the artwork process was to decide where in the tree to install and how long each section of fabric needed to be. David Hackett kindly booked and organised getting the large and cumbersome scissors lift to the Oregon Maple on the morning of the 14th of September.

It would have been great if it were possible to continue using the scissors lift that day and finally install all the ‘tendons’ but unfortunately I had so much cutting of fabric to get the desired shape, sewing of the edges and inserting the eyelet fixing points that David will have to roll out all the equipment again for the final stage.

So on a windy sunny morning and on the same day that American Vice President Mike Pence visited Trinity College Dublin David Hackett and his team maneuvered the large scissors lift into position. Ironically we were up in the scissors lift when the Vice President visited the main square nearby.

See images from top of the tree looking down on the main square.

Before we could begin large boards had to be laid down on the grass to protect it from being damaged by the wheels of the lift.

See images of scissors lift preparation

As soon as all the preparation was completed David promptly buckled me into a harness system and up we went! I am not afraid of heights but it was still a nerve wrecking experience all the same. It takes a lot of skill and experience to get the cherry picker to the highest parts of the huge Oregon Maple, thankfully David is a great driver!

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See images of the tree as I was looking down at it from the topmost branches.  

For what happened next see the blog entitled Installing in the Oregon Maple, part 2. 

Ironing the Oregon Maple artwork

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As the Oregon Maple artwork is to be installed outdoors the ink printed onto the lycra fabric needed to be set This is done using heat. My instructions from Gerry in Digiscreen was to have the fabric at 160 degrees for between 1-3 minutes. In large scale printers they use huge ovens that can hold exact temperatures for specific amounts of time. Not having access to these ovens I turned to my trusty iron and ironing board!

Before I could finalise the correct setting and duration of the ironing process I did a few tests with scrap fabric. See image below. Showing the fabric with no treatment on the left and one with 1,2 and 3 minutes on the right. To the naked eye it’s hard to see which setting is best but I decided to go for the longest duration.

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I therefore put my iron on its cotton setting and began the ironing process. Three minutes for every ironing board width by forty times per length of fabric (there are two) equals….many minutes of ironing, which I is my least favorite thing to do. I persevered and the fabric is now ready to be used outdoors.

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The next stage in the artwork process was to decide where in the tree to install and how long each section of fabric needed to be. David Hackett kindly booked and organised getting the large and cumbersome scissors lift to the Oregon Maple on the morning of the 14th of September.  I will post another blog about this process at a later stage.

Artworks ready to print…the Oregon Maple

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All set to start printing the microscopic imagery on the swathes of yellow lycra material. These lengths of pattered fabric will be stretched between the trunk and branches of one of the Oregon Maple trees in the main square.

Materials – yellow lycra fabric, black screen printing ink and fixings.

I will post more images of the set up and process of screen printing the Oregon Maple artwork.

Screen printing yesterday

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Yesterday Olivia Hassett spent the day printing the linear cellular imagery from the Oregon Maple onto fabric, which is soon to be hung in the Oregon Maple tree. Under the direction of Hugh McCarthy from RUA RED and with the kind help from Peter Hassett they completed printing on over 16 meters of yellow lycra fabric. The fabric is now ready for installing.

See images below of the process involved.

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Before the artist could begin screen printing she had to liaise with the printers to develop a screen specific to this project. To create a screen for printing with firstly the artist spend a week working on the imagery (in black and white) to send to the printers. The printers then made a transparency of the image, which was then photographically etched onto the mesh screen. The transparency blocks where the image is black and a blue photosensitive ink was laid down in the white areas. The final result is that the black areas are clear on the screen to allow ink to be pushed through creating the image.  Initially the artist did some paper tests to check out the ink consistency.  Also whenever the screen was over flooded it needed to be cleared by printing multiple images on paper.

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Firstly the Screen must be flooded with ink then laid down in a very specific position on the fabric. The squeegee is then pulled from the top to the bottom of the screen pulling a layer of ink before it and through the open printable areas in the screen.

After one image is printed the fabric is pulled through ready to print the same image on the next section. The fabric must be partially dried with a hair dryer before the artist could go any further otherwise the wet ink would have printed itself onto the underside edge of the screen. Before printing the next image it is crucial to line up the printed image with the screen exactly so that there is no large gap or overlap of the images.

This process is repeated until the fabric has been covered in its entirety. As the fabric had been cut into two long swathes it took 24 repeated prints before the job was done.

Then came the job of drying the fabric ready to move. Finally the fabric will need to be ironed to set the ink so it will not run.

Behind the artworks – The Oregon Maple

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The Oregon Maple, location: Main square.

The main point of interest for our team and key inspiration for the artwork was the bracing system. This is a very precise system of high tensile stainless steel cables that have been stretched between the heavy limbs and the main trunk thus spreading the load of the heavier branches throughout the tree.

An interesting piece of information is that when the tree surgeon has drilled the correct size holes to insert the support rods he has only a 30 second time frame before the tree will start to repair itself and begin closing the holes.

Large yellow tendon-line artworks have been created by the artist in response to this tree.  These swathes of fabric will be stretched between the limbs and the trunk of the tree on the left mirroring some of the steel cables in the bracing system.

The material used for the artwork is a large continuous length of elasticated lycra. The imagery printed onto the fabric is inspired by the microscopic photographs taken from a cross section of a small branch highlighting the linear cellular pattern of the maple.  

The team will post some images of this art work after the exhibition opens to the public on Friday 29th of September 2017. 

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Image 1: the scanning electron microscope image that inspired the artwork for the Oregon Maple.  

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Image 2: the in-between image. The artist worked with various photoshop filters and touchup techniques to arrive at the final result.  

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Image 3: is the final artwork that was transferred onto a printing screen. 

Opening night – Guided exhibition walk

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As part of the opening event for the Trinity College Trees Exhibition there will be a guided walk to all the exhibits by one of the project team.   The walk will take place on Friday 29th September between 5.15-5.45.  There will be a limited number of spaces.  Details on how to sign up for the guided walk will be posted nearer the time.  

If you are unable to book a slot on the guided walk don’t worry the team are also in the process of developing a sound piece that will accompany those wishing to take a self guided walk from Saturday the 30th of September until the end of the exhibition.  Once the walker brings their own headphones they can visit the works at their leisure.   In front of each of the chosen trees the team also plan to have an A4 stand with a brief description of the project and the positioning of each tree on a campus map.

There will be two versions of sound piece depending on which end of the campus you are starting will determine the listing of the trees and which sound piece you click on.  One version of the sound piece covers the walk if you are starting in the main square at the Oregon Maple.  The other version if you are starting at the Science Gallery.  

Included in the audio piece is a brief introduction to the Trinity Trees Project, the trees involved and the artworks commissioned in response to these trees.