Mind-blowing artwork in your pocket
Bas-relief sculpture is the art of suggesting three-dimensionality in a pretty-much-flat surface. Yesterday I noticed an example that really knocked my socks off. I was waiting for a system to boot up and idly looking at coins in my pocket.
On campus there’s a sculpture of Abe Lincoln that looks pretty darn good and it’s only about two inches deep. At about eighteen inches that’s a width-to-depth ratio of 9 to 1.
But looking at this nickel I couldn’t help admiring how the image worked and got to wondering how deep it is. So I got out a micrometer and adapted it to measure small areas, and took measurements. High spots – the arch of the eye, the cheekbone, ridge of the nose, etc. And low spots – it dips just off the eye, just under the nose and chin.
|From my photo album; Notes|
Ready? This portrait of Thomas Jefferson is 135 times as wide as it is deep. None of these features is more than six thousandths of an inch above its surroundings. I don’t know what figure I was expecting, but it wasn’t that small. For comparison, a sheet of standard copy paper is just under five thousandths thick. An index card, ten thousandths.
Damn. Getting from artistic concept to finished die is NOT an automated process by any stretch. My humble admiration to the artists and engravers…
(Click through to the album, and click the magnifying glass icon for a closer look. Specially note the detail around the eyes, and the rendering of the facial muscles.)