Thursday, November 18, 2010

Old Tricks...



There is the old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  This old dog can learn and has had to learn some new tricks in life but this old dog has also learned that some of the old tricks are still the best.

I started taking drafting in high school… T-square and triangle on this horrible green paper that if you made a mistake and tried to erase it your past mistakes were even more visible… or you ended up with a hole!! Cams and Gears… I loved drawing those… then on to architectural drafting with Mr. Nichol. Now we were getting somewhere. Line quality…lettering quality… learning the tricks to sharpening mechanical pencil lead. Plan views, elevations, perspective this is what I wanted to do.

When I went to Parsons I purchased a drafting table… I think it was one of the things that John (see last post) helped me put in his little Honda Civic and drive to my dorm room near Union Square Park… back when they told us not to walk through the park… bit I digress….

It was the big time now… no more t-square and triangle… now it was a Mayline Parallel edge. Oh My God… how did I draw with a T-square all of this time!!!
It was a breeze.. Line up your paper…now using vellum… drafting dots… another great invention… and away you go. Line weight was important. Lettering was important. My instructors would say…”if you can letter you can get a job anywhere”. Mastering rapidograph pens. One of my instructors would say the smokers had an advantage over the non-smokers with inks. His theory was that the smokers ink would smear less because they would draw a line and then take a puff of their cigarette while the ink would dry…  I chose to learn patience instead of starting to smoke!

My board came back upstate with me after college and was set up in the spare room of our first apartment when we got married. If I had to work at night it was ready. When my husband was in college and then in the advertising industry he had acquired many drafting boards. When we bought our first home we had a little studio set up in the basement… with our boards and art supplies and our nieces would come down and create with us.
As CAD… computer aided drafting… became more popular… drafting by hand was going by the wayside. At that point in my career I was managing designers so I had to learn about CAD but was not drafting my own designs… or if I was I was still drafting by hand. When I was designing Healthcare… we worked with an architectural firm who produced the CAD drawings so again I did not have to learn AutoCAD.

In our next home we renovated the attic and it became our closet and studio space. My board was the lucky one to be set up.  In 2003, when we moved to the West Coast we had to make some decisions about what would be moving with us. We sold so much… thank you EBay and some great garage sales. But my board came with us. In our home here we had 3 bedrooms and no basement or attic. So the board was stashed in the garage. I could not part with it.

Now as a designer looking for work in California I HAD to learn AutoCAD. I took a class and was hired… as a Senior Project Manager. No more hand production drawings. This old dog had to learn new tricks. I hated CAD. The way you field measured was different if you were drawing the plans by hand as opposed to inputting in CAD.  I have to admit as much as I hated CAD it does have its advantages. When you make a change, it is easier… different people can work on the drawings and you can not tell by drawing style. Make a change and replot the drawing… no erasures… no holes… BUT there was a beauty to hand drawings that we have lost with AutoCAD. Most new designers don’t know how to letter… don’t know line weight… sometimes not even how to sketch. It is a lost art…

When we moved to our current home and we had room for a studio… my board came out of the garage. 

  Over time the board cover had gotten dirty and had some cuts in it. The Mayline was intact but I had lost a knob and the wire was kinked and loose. I thought about buying a whole new Mayline… but they are expensive and mine had sentimental value. So I went online… another “new” trick that we did not have back in the 80’s… found a company that sold “parts”. I bought a new Vyco board cover… cleaned up my Mayline and restrung a new cable… Voila…

 I LOVE IT… if I need to strike a quick line… done…. a few parallel lines… done…perpendicular lines… done… it brings both me and my husband back to a different time… when drafting was drawing… so this old dog has learned and is still learning new tricks but I love being able to use the old tricks... sometimes... their the best....

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