Three To The Power Of Three is a piece in a numbers series inspired by the graphic design textbook, Decoding Design, by Maggie Macnab. The book theorizes what numbers and patterns mean to the human subconscious, regardless of age, nationality, or culture, and how they translate to us at a glance with no additional thought or comprehension necessary. Because this happens on a subconscious level, it becomes a powerful communication tool in graphic design and marketing.
This piece is based on the equilateral triangle. The number 3 is associated with some very powerful meanings, such as…
The Primary Colors From Which All Other Colors Are Made
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost
The Beginning, The End, and The Middle
The Great Pyramids
3 Dimensional World
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Macnab uses a recycle symbol as an example in the book. When one sees this symbol, no explanation is necessary for one to know the meaning. It communicates instantly, making it a well designed logo. This could be because it utilizes information that is already embedded into our primitive beings.
Although I love the negative space and simplicity of this piece, I’m going to recreate this and take it a step further by adding more triangles. The triangles will be carved out of the background plywood and painted. About 10-12 color studies are made before choosing the best one. Here are a few of them.
One of these days, I’d love to make a black & white piece. When it comes down to the final hour though, I can’t resist using color for some reason.
I was commissioned to design and construct an inlaid composition for a 1970’s headboard. The headboard was white laminate with a chrome trim. It seemed natural to use CD’s for their silvery color and reflective quality. After presenting a few designs, the client settled on a CD mosaic in a rainbow pattern.
The first thing I do when working with cutting CD’s is pull out my old stained glass machines. The pieces are each cut as if they were glass.
When designing a piece, I always ask myself what to remove, how to refine and simplify. The CD centers didn’t add to the overall piece, so out they go.
Cutting leaves a rough edge, so it must be ground smooth. A glass grinder works…
then a razor blade.
The base was then sanded, primed, painted before applying the CD pieces.
I have always been interested in repeating patterns. Over the years as a stained glass artist, my designs were usually pattern oriented. Over time, all that lead handling became a health concern. I took what I learned with leaded glass, and switched to glass mosaics. For a young artist with no money, glass was sometimes out of the budget so projects got put on hold or never happened. Being determined and resourceful, I eventually began experimenting with incorporating various non-glass flat materials as well, including 45’s from the thrift store and those free AOL CD’s. I already loved everything about 45’s; the size, the label designs, the colors, the song titles, the sound. Love turned into obsession when the geometric and mathematical design possibilities of this new resource were discovered. From then on, glass was forever out of the picture.
The earliest pieces were drafted with pencil and paper, then built on 48 x 48″ plywood and framed in zinc. The very first piece had an “X” pattern and a haphazard label arrangement, showcasing the pure wonderfulness of as many labels as possible for the viewer to enjoy, as the eye’s focus drifts from label to label.
I personally found a deep meditative quality in both making the piece and looking at it, and wanted to enhance that. 45’s were organized in groups of label color so that they could become the palette for a soothing monochromatic visual arrangement. Label color was carefully considered in all subsequent pieces.
After seeing my work at the first exhibition, a friend handed me a box of black and white marbled 12″ vinyl that some local band abandoned in his storage room. It took quite some time to decide how to use them in a piece. I abandoned hand drawings and started to use Photoshop. This made it easy to duplicate shapes and play with color.
From this point, the patterns became more complex as more components were added. Designs using the larger LP’s created a lot of negative space which I felt overly compelled to fill in with 45’s, CD’s, and convex mirrors. The convex mirrors accented the overall reflective quality and brought the viewer’s line of vision deeper into the piece. They also served the practical purpose of covering an unsightly joint created by mixing the two vinyl sizes.
In the next series, I found refinement by letting go of the compulsion to put everything in a square and cover every inch. The pieces began to take their own shape, which resulted in more of a sculptural piece. A painted background was added for exposure between the records.
Reconsidering the negative space, the painted background was cut out and eliminated. I also switched to 3/4″ plywood for self-supporting construction so that no braces interfered with the new lacy shapes. The edges of the plywood are painted black.
The textbook, Decoding Design, uncovers the secrets of how the numbers 1-10 are symbols that speak to our subconscious mind and the ways in which this is exploited in commercial art. It is really fascinating how this subconscious language speaks to us visually no matter the language or cultural background. Drawing inspiration from this book, the next series is inspired by simple single digit numbers.
We picked up a free architectural plotter on Craigslist. This new tool afforded me extreme accuracy in pattern-making. I switched from Photoshop to Illustrator. Previously, the final design was duplicated by hand onto the plywood, but in Illustrator, it was now possible to print a large CAD of the scaled line drawing on the plotter. This, combined with increased jigsaw skills acquired from practice, resulted in a final piece that was polished and precise. To celebrate this newfound precision, the black edge was eliminated and the beauty of the layered ply was exposed.