the quest for the microcomb
what is a microcomb? an enigma? an illusion? a dream within a dream? perhaps one day i'll find out, but for now, maybe it's what i've written below.
can you make a 1/16" rake?
mmm... sort of?
while ideally i'd like an option that is a single set of tines, the most useful comb i've created that achieves a 1/16" pattern is with two sets of 1/8" brass pins.
this comb is admittedly shoddily made and is definitely more of a proof of concept than anything else. but it works! and has held up over multiple sessions, so that's saying something, i guess.
how to make one?
i don't have any fancy power tools, so this how you'd make it with hand tools.
- a roll of dennison brass pins in strips (this gives you the easy 1/8" spacing)
- wooden dowel
- forstner bit slightly smaller than width of the wooden dowel
- use the forstner bit to create the approximation of a groove in the dowel – shouldn't be too deep, maybe a quarter of an inch. each new hole from the forstner bit should slightly overlap the prior hole made.
- use a sharp chisel to clean up the groove. namely, cut away the little bits on the edge of the groove that weren't taken out by the forstner bit. if you have a router plane or additional chisels, you can probably clean up the bottom of the groove, too.
- lay a bead of glue in the groove on one side.
- pull out a string of pins (keeping the paper on!) the length of your dowel and make sure they're all aligned against the paper (i.e. are the same height). i made the poiny part face "up" (that is, what will go in the size).
- place this strip in the bead of glue. it's helpful to have a thin, pokey tool to align the pins so they rest vertically.
- wait for this glue to dry (or at least get pretty tacky).
- lay another bead of glue and repeat for the other length of brass pins, making sure to align the pins so they bifurcate the first set of pins laid. i used painters tape to keep the pins from leaning over while drying.
- once the glue is dried, fill the groove with water so that the paper gets drenched. now you can pull the paper off easily (minus any parts that got covered in glue).
it's important to make sure the pins are offset from each other (like a miniature bouquet comb), otherwise, you've just made a weird 1/8" comb – which is totally fair, but you probably didn't need to use two rows of pins for that.
use as a free-standing rake
due to the small size of my test rake and the large size of the vat i was using (19 x 16), the next test i did was to use it like a stylus while making "fantasy" patterns. that is, free-form, not anchored to the sides of the tray.
i have been quite inspired by Norma Rubovits' "vignettes" (an example below) and endeavor to reproduce the technique to the extent i am able and it seems like a microcomb may have been used.
my own personal experiments have used the above rake as well as this tiny 5-tiner that i made while at studio.
for example, an attempt at a "vignette" with the 5-tiner.
some of the examples have worked better than others – it does seem like the 5-tiner would work well as a skip comb.
here some additional "fantasy-esque" attempts with both the 5-tiner and the 5" rake. with the 5" rake i attempted to have the tines in the size as little as possible to avoid streaks, but that means that the wonky length of the various tines was much more obvious.
an archive of prior attempts
that is my first attempt: a 5" wide comb, with 1/16" spaced tines. the tines are 70-gauge stainless steel wire. holes were hand-drilled with a needle-nosed handdrill – the chuck slipped occasionally, hence why the tines are of uneven length.
there are a few things at play here that leave me unfulfilled:
1) something about the tines are causing what appears to be too much paint being lapped up by the tines and causing streaks of carrageenan. i welcome any additional theories: currently my mitigating strategy is to try to put as little of the comb in the size as possible
2) as you can see, it is very obvious where i deviated from the sixteenth of an inch progression
thus as a "standard" comb used like a non-pareil comb, there is still some experimentation to do. i'd like to try with 80 gauge wire – i've since gotten better at using the micro handdrill, so the uneven nature of the comb should be mitigated in the next go around.
last updated: 2023-05-02 21:28:04