Friday, January 18, 2008

Adventures in (Dangerous) Mind-Molding

A few weeks ago I had this nightmare that I showed up to my first graduate typography class with my clever little sewing project and was suddenly transformed to Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds wrangling inner-city LA high schoolers into learning about type. I won't go into the details but it involved some of the students being gang members, a few stairwell pot-smokers and a rowdy hip-hop choir across the hall lead by Dwight from The Office. Thankfully, that is not how Wednesday's class went. The students did come in together (very gang-like) but my fears were quickly calmed when they told me that most of them have class together right before mine.

To introduce the scope of this new (less-than-traditional) type class, I had the students cross stitch a lowercase letter a into plastic stitching mesh with black yarn, considering fundamental typographic issues such as height, width, proportion, form and negative space. Although this class is about designing with type, it is crucial to be intimately familiar with the anatomical workings of letters. Subtle nuances that define the individual design of letters can be studied and expounded upon to better understand the subtleties and details of designing with type on any scale - be it letter, word, line or body.

The charrette far exceeded my expectations (especially considering that after that nightmare, my only real hope was that the needles not be used as weapons). I really think the students understood the point of the exercise and had a lot of fun doing it. I'm officially excited about the rest of the semester.

Here's a taste of what cross stitched type can look like:

I'll be documenting all charrettes (1-class projects) and class pin-ups here on Flickr.

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