Fi6.l06. BOOK. TJiO with softe* treatment«
each quarter ellipse, constructively considered, is a separate piece of wood joined to the vertical and horizontal members. Note, too, the long pieces of wood in their relation to the containing volume.
Up to this point, all enrichment mentioned in this chapter has been of the surface variety, with no penetration below the surface. We now enter into a phase of enrichment termed "plastic " peculiarly effective when applied to small surfaces and small objects.
As described in Chapter Six, plasticity is the growing, flowing quality of a design, its effect of having evolved from the volume.
To clarify this idea, let us study the enrichment as shown on Plate 13. The article to be enriched is the bookstall for holding current books from which one is studying or reading. The horizontal and stable volume of the bookstall is deep, wide and high enough to serve its functional purpose, usually determined through measurements plus adjustment to make those proportions pleasing. An example of deep penetration, a box-like form with an open end, the bookstall is an object adapted to the simple and abstract enrichment of the modernist.
Figure 101, Plate 13, depicts one type of plastic pattern, formed mainly of one salient plane on a level of the original volume, and two sunken planes. The method of planning is shown in Figure 102, in which light lines across the end of the bookstall give the designer an opportunity to gauge his spatial relations. Deeply sunken planes would tend to destroy the feeling innate in this type of enrichment by subtracting too much space, creating dense shadows, and breaking up the volume until the oneness or unity of its form is lost. Then, too, deep enrichment will give the impression of loss of dependability and durability.
The sunken bands continuing around the object emphasize and are in sympathy with the horizontal thrust of the volume; but we must balance this horizontal band thrust by a vertical thrust which, while it does not completely neutralize the horizontal action, gives a satisfactory sense of stability and thrust balance. This balance is supplied by the vertical band while its left and right placement is a matter of proportionate judgment.
The bands make the pattern more plastic or modeled and increase the interest and variety of the design. A slight rounding of the corners makes for an attractive transition from the side planes to the top. This rounding does not by any means suggest an indiscriminate rounding of all edges, for a certain amount of square-cornered crispness is a characteristic of modern design.
A variation of the theme just shown is delineated in Figure 103, Plate 13, in which the vertical thrusts have been augmented; but the general thrust has been maintained by the base band. Figure 104 is a design for the ever-popular book end. The sunken-plane enrichment is planned in a manner similar to the method in Figure 102. For tonal balance, a small inlay is inserted to balance the light and shade generated by the sunken panels. Notice the rhythmic progression in the use of planes—even in the small panel, thrusts and counter thrusts are planned with care. While Figure 104 is still classed as shallow penetration used as enrichment, it does not have the amount of space removed equal to that of Figure 101, and hence is less plastic, an effect readily observed by contrasting the two designs. Figures 105 and 106, Plate 13, are variations of the plastic theme, softened effects marking the characteristics of Figure 106.
The possibilities of shallow plastic enrichment are just beginning to be understood, and much creative work has to be accomplished. In no sense should this form of enrichment be confused with carving seen in period furniture. Plastic enrichment must be developed in the spirit of the material and with knowledge of the grain of the wood; it is geometric and abstract in character, depends upon its fine proportioning and interesting light and shade, and must not penetrate the wood far enough to destroy the volumetric unity. Moreover its salient and sunken planes must always be in relation to the major and minor thrusts, while soundly related to construction. Enrichment on modern buildings will give added incentives to the study of this attractive form of enrichment.
The abstractly handled human figure, revealed by salient and sunken planes, with thrusts and counter thrusts well balanced, is within the scope of plastic enrichment. The study of Egyptian low-relief decoration offers many suggestions for possible treatment.
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