nick's blog

More silhouette-machine workshops

Following on from the success of the silhouette machines at the Brighton Science Festival, we are now staging weekday workshops, to cater to the public demand. It's wonderful that so many people are keen to learn about the devices and try them out.

We are already booked solid for this week's events and will clearly need to schedule more sessions. Apologies if you did not get a place when you called or emailed. The good news is that if you allowed us to keep your contact info, we will be in touch to set up another round of workshops.

Silhouette machine at Festival

We have been busy building silhouette machines, copies of late-18th and early-19th C devices. Now, we are now taking these off to stage demonstrations during the Brighton Science Festival. We have participated with the Festival since it's launch some years ago and it is always a delight to see the large crowds that attend and participate. Our thanks to Charles Burns who has lent us two further silhouette devices, copies of the type of machine popular in the USA during the early 19th C.


As we near the end of OCR-scanning information about silhouette artists' lives, we are getting into the final leg of cleaning the scanned data and starting work to gathering the relevant images to support the scanned material. This last task alone will take many weeks but it does signify the approaching end of the effort to develop a really comprehensive section on the lives of those who have made silhouettes. Perhaps another couple of months and we will be near our target.

Open Day at The Keep

Our wonderful new archive centre for East Sussex, The Keep, has recently been finished and today there is a public Open Day. We are off to meet visitors and introduce them to some of our work with records relating to Brighton & Hove property and to silhouette heritage. Be great to see you there over the next few hours!

A gift from Charles Burns

The silhouette artist Charles Burns visited again yesterday. We discussed the project's latest advances and various options for ongoing development. At the end of his stay, Charles confirmed his agreement to contribute scans of his entire silhouette collection to the project. His decision to 'Join in' is a real boost for us all. With such a leading light of the silhouette world showing such enthusiasm for the idea of a virtual archive, protecting silhouette heritage from the threats of fire, flood, etc, we have a real evangelist for the project. 

Work continues despite . . .

We are working our way through yet more source material about the lives of silhouette artist's. The photographing, OCR scanning and subsequent correcting of text seems endless. We have a great team dedicating their free time to the task and I'm really grateful for this, especially right now when my father is in and out hospital with a health problem. Today, as I travel to hospital for the result of a scan, I know that although I cannot be with them, they are on top of the job and forging ahead, thanks guys, you are all much appreciated. 

Biographies completed

After months of work we are now at the end of writing artist's biographies. We expect to put the completed work online over the next few weeks, starting with test data as early as next week.

Artist's biographies - delayed

We had anticipated completing the writing of artist's biographis in November but the sheer volume of work involved, processing some 2,400 pages of information, has delayed us. Hopefully, we will conclude this section of th eproject in early-2014.

Photographing silhouettes

Our custom-built lighting stage made to photograph the silhouettes has been producing really good results during testing and we are now happy with the set-up we have for photography. Tomorrow we get our first main batch of silhouettes to photograph. We're going to do all the small ones first and then come back for the odd-sized, larger, ones later. Ellen and Yvonne will be amongst the volunteers doing the bulk of the picture taking and we hope to post a photo of them and the set up shortly.

Keeping the records straight

Ellen, one of our longest serving volunteers, has been very busy recently, transferring to an Excel document the observations about artists and their works made by Ms Diana Joll, our key silhouette expert. To date, most of Diana's notes have been in manuscript form and quite difficult for many of us to read.  A big thanks to both Ellen and Diana for allocating the time to undertake this vital work. 


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