The challenge was to design an experience. The first idea that popped into my head was designing something that would challenge people to write letters and compare how communication has changed over time. I began looking for creative inspiration. Here are some photos that I found.
After dreaming big about creating a giant interactive book, I began to layout what message and the design aesthetic would be on each page. Originally I wanted to create a book that was 3 ft wide by 2 foot tall made out of wood. The page design was coming together, I wanted to highlight the power of the written word and organize the design as if one was reading a book and addressing a letter. Also I did not want to define a negative or positive personal opinion throughout the piece so I chose and created quotes throughout the pages that suggested two opposing theories about how technology has changed how we communicate.
The first challenge that I faced with this project was deciding to do it all out of wood, this added a weight and function element that was an obstacle
that I had to overcome throughout the process. My first idea was to print out the 2×3 foot designs on paper and then glue them onto the pieces of wood. After learning that the cost to print 10 pages at that size it was time to switch gears. I learned about this technique where you could transfer printed images onto wood, image transfer. My wood size went down to 1 foot wide by 2 foot tall and I got oak faced plywood. To execute this method you print out the images reversed on an ink jet printer and you apply a photo transfer medium on the wood, then allow it to cure overnight. Sadly, I got way too excited and I just went for it and did every single board… I’ll let the photos tell you what went wrong.
This is the painful lesson that I learned the next morning, all of the wood was ruined. I tried everything I could by watching videos on YouTube to see what went wrong. I went and bought 4 more versions of the transfer medium, even tried covering the wood with a clear coat before adhering the image down. After trying to win the battle, it was time to admit defeat and start over.
More wood was ordered and I decided that I would cut down the size again to 17.5 wide by 31 inches tall so that I could get my designs laser cut at the University of Nebraska -Lincoln. The laser-cutting process took over 9 hours. The result was so exciting, but the wood still needed more personal touches and colors. My accent color was read so I wanted to incorporate this strategically throughout the design flow. I used red crayons in various colors to color in my salutations on the intro and exit pages. I also played with different staining/painting techniques to create depth and a variation in look towards each spread.
The overall goal was to create a design experience and I physically wanted people to be able to draw and interact with my design in a variety of ways. I accomplished this by adding a spray-paint chalk board on various pages and text bubbles out of stick chalk board paper.
Another spread that I wanted to have interaction was my letter page. I went to my high school and asked my former English teacher to have her students answer questions about technology affecting communication, and what they thought about letter writing.