|SHOOTING TROUBLESOME ART, part I
note: this is a posting for people in the art reproduction business as well as patrons. If you are an artist that likes to create wavy orignals or otherwise strange pieces and have any questions, please feel free to write firstname.lastname@example.org
Watercolors, chinese ink painting, block prints, warped poster boards, gravestone rubbings, pastels, and assorted splattering techniques can create challenges for art reproduction in that the paper rarely ends up flat. In fact, they generally more resemble lunar terrain. This is fine when the piece is displayed floating in a shadow box, but when you try to copy it, the contours can create shadows, and if severe enough, can make it difficult to maintain focus. Then, there is the issue (for those of us who insist on copying the originals while in a vertical position) of how to best attach the original work to our easel without using six-penny nails, or even push pins, as it is considered bad form to perforate a work of art, especially in the middle. True, some of these problems, like a wavy watercolor, can be carefully flattened by the careful use a dry-mount press (if you can find one) but there are risks and time issues here. The standard solution to all these problems is to use a simple vacuum easel as shown below. The trick to using such an easel is how to work the original piece into positive contact without having to touch the surface, some of which are quite delecate. We use a variety of items such as a sheet of plexiglass, a roller, or by rolling the piece onto the easel to get it in position. Once a vacuum seal is made, the work will be pulled (nearly) flat and it can be copied.
The concept (fig 1) is self-explainitory. A powerful, quiet vacuum is plugged into the box (fig 2), one side of which is peg board. The vac, it will be noted, has enough extensions to keep it far enough away to keep from desturbing the tranquility of the art-copy ensemble. The "live" vacuum area is controlled with masking tape, leaving holes only for the current art work. The entire vacuum box is attached to our normal rolling copy easel (fig 3) , making it possible to "tile" the digital copy (i.e. shoot in sections). This rig has proven powerful enough to pull 3" of warp out of a piece of poster board.