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  • Writer's pictureKaren Ruffles

Art for all - making 3d prints for the blind.

Those of you who have been following along on social media will know that one of our main goals for the book tour was to open the show up to as many people as possible, with a focus on inclusion not exclusion. One obvious audience who aren't normally catered for with visual art shows is the blind and partially sighted so Sean and I decided to take this as a challenge and have the illustrations translated into 3d prints that can be experienced by touch.

The first stage was taking a scanned image of the original and turning that into a file for the printer. With the help of the wonderful Jan Lennon, the flat drawing was adapted, bringing some areas forward to create tactile features and using texture to make others stand out.

As Hunted was the first image to be made into a final print, three sizes were ordered to see what difference scale made. It's clear the largest print, a full size copy, is the best choice so the other two have been very useful for experimenting with various methods of enhancing the finishes. By using different paints areas can be made to feel warm or cool. Using a mini drill, other areas have been sanded and additional details cut in.

In this close up of the steps, you can see that the top layer of the print has lines on it, that is a result of the printing process rather than something we added so in untreated areas, these need to be sanded off. For this feature, I wanted to add a stone texture so I mixed white aquarium sand with acrylic paint to create a paste that could be sculpted and covered each step with that. I've learned a lot over the last few weeks and so my next blog series is going to focus on these prints - the practical techniques and the process.

We're going to start a slow roll out as the prints are produced, focusing first on community spaces like libraries then working up to bigger venues like the gallery and church we visited last May. As well as the 3d, the dates include the original artwork, readings with sign language interpretation and animations. Don't forget to sign up if you haven't already to follow the journey and see where we are headed next.

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