I’m running into some problems with the Gerber prints. Whereas the prints worked well for the mostly flat Meganeuropsis wings, the vacuform leaves have enough variability that I can’t get the prints to conform to the surface without cutting into the print many times to get it to flex over the surface. When it doesn’t fit snuggly to the surface, bubbles appear, so bubbles and problems with too many slices into the prints are the down-sides of this method. Nonetheless, I am encouraged by the realistic detail and translucency. The Gerber prints have the color embedded into the print which gives the translucency. If I can get the color right, and can find some way to prevent them from curling, there will be little to no need for extrinsic painting. These leaves may work in the diorama, but I want to get it better first.
Sally Pallatto, our graphics artist, and I met this morning to send off a “leaf” file to a printing company that we used in our last exhibit to make translucent “scrim” banners as a design element in the exhibit hall. We discussed using fabric prints of the leaves rather than the Gerber prints to adhere to the vacuform leaves. Sally is pretty sure that the fabric will flex better to the leaf surface than the Gerber prints. The translucency should be comparable to paper which has been used for years to make leaves. If I can get them to adhere without bubbles to the vacuform leaves, then I think I will be close to solving the problem. Also, I have been finding that when the leaf prints are dipped in the colored wax, the detail is diminished by the wax, so Sally lightened the files and added contrast to pull out the veins a bit more. These new fabric prints should be arriving at the Peabody early next week and I will start a new run of leaves using them!