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Woven Typography

Typography refers to type style, including fonts, sizing and arrangements for ease of reading. When I think of typography I want to know how readable is it. First and foremost. When I look at woven words, I often think, not so much.

The woven words that I have attempted so far have a vague relationship to, but still not what I would call even remotely, readable. Depends on the letter. Some are kind of squished. Others stand out from the background, because of their simplicity. The better ones have a good amount of negative space and strong positive space. The lesser ones are only called letters because I say so.

The technique I’ve been using to create woven text for 16 harnesses calls on the type faces included in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. The idea is to make a new file, exactly 12 pixels wide, and pick a vertical type face that is strong, usually Arial Black or Arial Bold, and type something. Then the frustrating part begins. Editing the type so that it only consists of black or white pixels (no gray allowed!). Also editing out black pixels in favor or more white pixels so that the negative space more clearly defines the letter (see above).

I have to say here that I am not a Photoshop newbie. In my professional life I was a Curator of Visual Resources in the College of Design at Iowa State University. I used Photoshop every day of my working life. I taught Photoshop skills to student employees. But. Making letters play nice in Photoshop is a whole different ball game. It is extremely fiddly. And life is short.

So I got the idea to look around for cross stitch patterns of the alphabet. They exist is vast numbers on Etsy for very little money, it turns out. Cross stitch patterns work pretty well with weave design. They are blocky. They fill up little squares. Weavers use them for Summer and Winter and other block weaves. I found a couple of cross stitch alphabets that were the right size and blocky but not too blocky. Credit goes to The Cross Elephant on Etsy:

Now the process gets tedious, but the work involved once all the letters have been extracted and saved suddenly gets greatly reduced.

One by one I copied each capital letter into its own file. Now they are ready and waiting to be copied into a new weaving text. Each letter is its own layer, so by the time I have finished a text, I might have close to 20 layers in the file. So, I flatten the image, and continue on with the process of inserting patterns on foreground and background. Such a difference!

This is the next towel slated for weaving. I have a 6/2 cotton warp wound and ready to tie on to the previous Kitchen Towel Warp. But time and motion move slowly Chez Iowaweaver, so patience is required.


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