Hello! My name is Sue Washington and I was delighted to meet our children’s artist-in-residence, David Melling, during my first week working at Living Paintings. David came down to see how his fabulous artwork for Hugless Douglas – Great Cake Bake is being transformed into the special tactile pages we use in our Touch to See books. We visited the studio of volunteer Len Webb, a skilled artist and model maker, to find out more about how this is done.
You may remember a previous blog in which we explained about the special link between David and Len. Len worked at one time for David’s father, Christopher Melling, and the two of them talked happily about the extraordinary range of models produced in his commercial studio for advertising and product demonstration in a pre-digital age.
Len now uses his traditional skills to create intricately carved, 3D versions of the drawings from Touch to See books. He starts with a line drawing that may be simplified so that every part is easy to “read” by touch. He then cuts out a block of wood to the basic shape and starts on the really tricky part, carefully carving out the detail from the drawing.
He has to make sure he knows which parts of the image stands out the most, so that he doesn’t carve away too much wood. He uses different tools to create different textures, like the woolly coats of the sheep and Hugless Douglas’s thick fur. Tiny details that have to stay really sharp, like buttons and claws, may be added in metal. Once complete, the individual carvings become the master copies used in the machine that presses out the plastic tactile pages.
David was fascinated to see the various stages of the process and found a lot of the tools really familiar from his father’s workshop. He was delighted with the 3D images being created by Len, faithfully reproducing Douglas and his friends and bringing them to life for visually impaired children.
Hugless Douglas – Great Cake Bake will be available from the Living Paintings Library later this year.