Katya Robin

30 November 2012

My works for this project are very nearly complete,  just some final minor details and packing to do prior to installation at Bank St Arts, reading for the group show opening on 12 December 2012. I anticipate revisiting this project later on. But for this project my blogging of the research process for this show is now complete.  

Storage Box for Sheets of 1nch patterns
 © Katya Robin 2012

Storage Box for Sheets of 1nch patterns
 © Katya Robin 2012

Standard Measures booklet published.
16 November 2012

For the final visit to the Standard Measures of 100 Feet on Cheney Row
I took the completed 100 units of 12 Inches
© Katya Robin 2012

  9 November 2012 

 12 inches © Katya Robin 2012

12 inches © Katya Robin 2012
Production line in the workshop today. Gill on counting, polishing and stacking, Katya on gluing,  Will on the buffing machine.

5 November 2012

12 stacks of 12 1nches © Katya Robin 2012

13 stacks of 12 1nches © Katya Robin 2012
12 1nches © Katya robin 2012

12  1nches © Katya Robin 2012

12 1nches © Katya Robin 2012

1 November 2012 
New visit to the Standard Measures

Checking the Standard Measures against the 1nch tiles © Katya Robin 2012

1nch tile left in situ at the Sheffield Standard Measures  © Katya Robin 2012

22-26 October
Changes to Book

Following a visit to local bookbinder and quotations from online businesses, I've decided not to bind the book at all, but box it.

Whilst the options suggested by the bookbinder were beautiful, that was the problem - they were too aesthetic and not utilitarian enough. Also the hand-made binding and machine spiro bindings would all  mess up the measurements, and the book would no longer be 12x12 inches.

I'm comparing specifications and quotes from suppliers of pizza boxes. The loose-leaf book will be stored in a 12" pizza box,  complete with a bundled 'toy': a happy meal for arty nerds.

I was struggling with the essay for the book. Whilst I've read widely for this  project, I didn't want to merely paraphrase what is better written elsewhere. Nor did I want to explain  the entire project in words, as this blog already provides a record the development of the ideas and practical issues; the works speak for themselves. I've decided to make it a photo-book-in-a-box.

25 - 30 October 2012

I have been working on the pattern sheets for the light box, 11 are now complete, polished and ready. As the end of this section of the project is in sight, I've begun planning the objects.

There's been a problem fitting the approved power supplies into the box, but a solution will be found.

19 October

It's good to  spread out. I used the whole
work bench, and more space besides.
The various elements are beginning to come together.  The power supplies for the LEDs have the appropriate PAT (portable appliance test). Consequently, I have finally been able to switch them on in the workshop to asses how many units are needed in the lightbox : three.

 Two patterns have now been glued, so we could see the box lit up with the pattern in place, proving the full picture to make the assessment.

1nch pattern sheet 01 - © Katya Robin 2012
  test: 1nch pattern sheet 01 (illuminated) -  © Katya Robin 2012
However progress is slow with the book. I finally received the quotation for combined print and binding, but it's sky high. It's taken  nearly 3 weeks  and a few  prompts to provide a quote. This  doesn't inspire confidence.

I was happy with the in-house print quality, but the only binding they can do at this size is stapling. I had in mind a much neater more book-like finish.

13 October

The lightbox - assembled. 
Top section is detachable so different
fascia sheets can be inserted.
1nch pattern grids - in development.
© Katya Robin 2012

Tuesday 2  Oct,  we collected the 12 x 477mm square sheets of 5mm Opal perspex from Century Plastics at Kiverton.  It's taken a few trips to ferry the thick persex up to the Sheaf workshops, and this past week , they've been all been etched with the grid pattern to assist placement of the 144 1nch tiles.  The return ferrying has commenced.

Pressure grommet to secure
power supply cables.
 On Monday 8 Oct, we did some glue tests.  Luckily I ran into the guy who does PAT testing at SHU, and  we discussed  the  safety regulations in relation to the light box,  power supply for the LED strip lights. He recommended a pressure grommet to secure the cable. Hopefully this can now move on swiftly as it's critical to development of the object and need to prepare for the gallery installation.

Standard Measures Book - meeting people
side doorway of Town Hall
I'm waiting for the quote from Mensa, it seems my chosen dimensions of 12 inches  may be a complicating factor again, as they were for SHU Print services. However, this cannot be compromised as it's central to the project. I'm considering using a different programme for the layout. Although technically possible to make a book in Word, the image placement is troublesome and imprecise. This book is nearly all images, and placement is crucial to the way it reads.

I've returned to the Standard Measures on Cheney Row  few times recently.  

On Thursday 4 Oct, I took new set of photos with  reflectors made with turkey foil, also in the Blue Peter spirit,  I  again taped the screen to make a square format. 

One of the City Centre Ambassadors, Phil, asked me conversationally what I was doing. I explained about the project, and he told me about his Grandma, who is a 100 this year and was born in 1912. She was born nearby, not far from the The Moor, and remembers playing by the Standard Measures as a child.

4 x 1nch tiles placed on earth rod street fitting at the Town Hall.
© Katya Robin 2012
4 x 1nch tiles placed on earth rod street fitting Cheney Row S1.
© Katya Robin 2012

Wednesday 10 Oct: En route to a meeting with a business adviser, armed with my new camera (Canon G1X) which has a square format setting and samples of the 1nch tiles, I revisited the Standard Measures. I decided to set up shots by placing the 1nch tiles with street fittings and the Measures. As I worked, a worn-looking guy sheltered in the side doorway of the Town Hall to smoke, and asked if I was going in for the Turner Prize, and "if Tracy Emin can get away with it, why shouldn't you?".

As I reached the other end of Cheney Row, the Leopold Road end, once again I met a City Centre Ambassador, Alex this time, who was interested in what I was doing. I gave him a 1nch tile to pass onto to Phil, for his Grandma.

16 x 1nch tiles placed on the 1 foot Standard Measure.
© Katya Robin 2012

16 x 1nch tiles placed on the 1 foot Standard Measure. © Katya Robin 2012

The meeting with the Business Adviser was useful, and I have a session lined up to discuss intellectual property.  I'm considering outlets for variations of the 1nches and also the Standard Measures book.

3 October 2012

I got the proof of 'Standard Measures' book from Print Services yesterday.  Rather disappointingly, they were unable to provide any binding options other than stapling, which is wrong for this.  It's a photo book not a pamphlet.

I took the proof to Mensa Printers, for a quote.  They are quoting for the whole job, they don't do just binding.  They showed me a nice sample copy with matt laminated cover, and suggested adding bar code over the ISBN.

It's very useful to have the proof copy, as due to the size of the book, 12x 12 inches, I was unable to print it myself. It's good to see and feel how it works in good  quality full colour on nice ivory paper. Quite a few things aren't working. Lots of changes needed.

  • add title page, colophon on reverse
  • add blank page at end
  • ISBN  and 'AND Public' logo need to be tweaked
  • layout the text with wider margins and connect  more to 1nch part of this project
  • photos ( see below)
The  quality of the photo printing is good but I need to rework the photos.  I did them straight with no photoshopping for the one day speed documentary approach.  But it's not worked.  the numbers aren't clear enough and too much deep shadow. I've also decided to drop the punning ( 1 foot, 2 feet, 4 feet) and concentrate on the reportage and appreciation of what the Standard Measures are, and the formal qualities of the materials, and workmanship.

I've borrowed a Canon G10 from SHU Creative Media Centre and taken some new photos of the location today. I chose a simple point and shoot camera with a high number of pixels.I masked the screen to square format, and now need to crop all the images to this. I'm planning to return to Cheney Row and measure the plaques with a view to printing my photos the same size, placed centrally on the 12" square pages. 

Lighting is tricky, as being between the Town Hall and wall of the Peace Gardens, the Standard Measures are in shadow all the time. I don't want to use the pop up flash as I don't like the bounce glare it causes. I'm considering using a reflector to bounce daylight into the shady area.

Confetti weather-ghosting
© Katya Robin 2012

Even though the location is only 100 feet, and I have visited or passed through many times before, I noticed many new aspects today.  I spent some time on the ramped access from the Weddings suite that feeds onto Cheney Row. I see connections in the official registration of partnerships and marriages and the Standard Measures. Both are legally-binding definitions provided by the Municipality.

The final picture of the proof book is another downward shot of the paving,  with a single piece of confetti:  a horseshoe, I saw a connection with feet and shoe.  There is also the diverse use  of the spaces as providing legally-required wheelchair access, the practical nature of official measurement, thus observing 'heritage' and disability access within the Peace Gardens development,  and shoe-horning in a wedding location. Wedding venues have  rules about confetti usage, where people can throw it, and that it should be bio-degradable  and so on.  Yet, like the old units of measure, people still hold onto the originally Pagan tradition.

30 September 2012
lots of 1 inch rule tiles

27 September 2012

some typographic similarities between 1nch and periodic table


Anxious about getting measurements right, I asked Gill to drop off a letter to A. ( tech at Sheaf Workshop) confirming  in writing the size of the perspex panels, which the light box needs to accommodate.  Like many dyslexics, I mix up numerals a lot. I can't  reliably make appointments over the phone, as I can't quickly and accurately translate dates/times from hearing them to writing them down. I need to seem them written down, ideally in a calendar format; I find it really hard to understand them abstractly.  A. and I have already a few conversations through the mire of  different measuring systems, confusing 2.5cm  and 2 and 1/2 inches. She does metric, and I do a combination of metric and Imperial. I suspect it's down to age,  and education policies in different eras. 

 26 September 2012

test of Opal perspex lit by LED strip
I've placed an order from Century Plastics for 12 squares  of 5mm Opal perspex cut to 477mm x 477mm, which is to sit in the 10mm channels in the sides of the light box.  I asked for the  slender off-cuts to be saved too, as they may be useful for making up a storage box for all the sheets.

Mark and Dawn visited with a selection of LED lights and stimulating conversation. They left me with the Lidl under-counter strip lights, which are a really neat solution for the light box. 

testing Opal acrylic perspex as mounting sheet lit by Lidl LED strip
© Katya Robin 2012

144 Grids
I'm considering ideas for layout of 1 inch pieces, and I looked for 12-sided dice on ebay,  to use for 2 versions of RANDOM CHOICE.

I was thinking of displaying the 12-sided die in a 6-sided cube. It seems there are few ideas.


 25 September 2012

Material Considerations

The Box 
Done new simper drawings for lightbox, following conversation with Anna ( Sheaf Workshops).

Laser etching and cutting is on-going.

Bit of a dilemma with materials, as 5mm Opal perspex 600 x 1000 mm sheets works out as very  poor value, providing only 2 pieces per £20 sheet, and huge amount of wastage.  Next step is to contact http://www.centuryplastics.co.uk who do bigger sheets.

I'm also hoping to see whether opal or clear mounting sheet is preferable.  I want the inch rules illuminated crisply, but not too glaring.
LED lighting choices still unresolved.  All the aspects need to work together.

LED lights

LED display

opal perspex held 3" in front of LED strip

code numbers of Saxby's Microflex LED
Earlier I considered using fairy lights in a tangle as the light source. And before I narrowed the project down to 1 inch, I was thinking about  the windows, advent calendars and the grid board games.  For this show, and it's focus on specific dates, I want the piece to have a touch of Christmas about it. The prettiness of light fairy lights and artificial colours  of boiled sweets and their cellophane wrappers.

external lights in our garden, December 2003
from 12 December 2011,  more intense colour in Winter

23 September 2012

Research for grid patterns 

I've done some rough drawings for the grid patterns, based on making the divisibility of 12  more visible, graspable. Rather like Cuisenaire rods do for the decimal system.

Hope this arrives soon, likewise books ordered from SHU and Sheffield City libraries : 
Archive of  12  base  at:

Mel Bochner  12" (2010)

 Mel Bochner, forthcoming show at Whitechapel.

Hanne Darboven,  number artist.

12 tone colour Glockenspiel
Relating colour and musical tones?
Q & A: color and music tone wavelength scales

12 x 12  Grid  Light Box
Also much development of other 12x12x12 works this week: the research coming together, and encountering practicalities.

Discussed the project with the guys in at Workshops,  who suggested various glues and reeled off names of people to contact, gave me Hindleys catalogue.
Drawings for light box specification - most details already changed !
but useful to have something on paper to discuss and alter

 Did the specification drawings. Bought coloured transparent perspex sheets from Hindleys, also metal MES lamp bases without the black plastic holder, thus no need to spray it.
Back at workshops, discussed the light box again, specification changed, much confusion over measurements. New opinion on light source: apparently the incandescent MES bulbs will create more problems than they solve. They will be too dim (contrary to advise from Bardwellls and Hindleys), requiring deep and heavy back board for screws and side panels to allow for heat escape, also light too warm and orange and will distort the colours perspex grid. LEDs run cooler, are more compact, whiter light. Florescent tubes also possible.

Went to CEF for LED kit, bit it's 5 metres and £90. Looked on ebay for LED kits, such as those for under kitchen counters. Still not cheap, and project costs are escalating. The florescent tubes were too big. I can't buy any more electrics without seeing samples. Then I remembered a friend, Mark, saying about lighting the stairs in LEDs, apparently he buys them from Lidl and is coming over later this week to demonstrate them.

Drawing for 1nch pieces, with different calibrations down each side  © Katya Robin 2012
Drawing for laser etching © Katya Robin 2012

Test sheet of 1nch pieces done on laser cutting at Workshops (thanks Will). the laser cutter was programmed to do all the etching first, then go back and do the cutting. Delighted with test samples.

Didn't manage to do glue tests on Friday, but hopefully can fit them in between the laser cutting of 12 sheets,  each sheet could take about an hour to cut.
1nch - test laser etching

tiles & test glues
© Katya Robin 2012

test samples in 2mm clear
final pieces to be in 3mm in 12 colours
© Katya Robin 2012

Standard Measures - the book.

Decided against concertina-style book, if it each page/image was 6x4", the book length would be around 9yards 1 foot and 6" long. Cumbersome. Also it would mean jamming the photos up to each other, and consequent  loss of white space and implied distance between the points of the Standard Measures.Considered a large A0 print, but opted for a 12x12" book. 

Decision made, it was swift process to assemble it into a book in Word. ISBN bought through AND Public. Proof copies hopefully ready early next week, from  SHU Print,  in different bindings. At 50 pages / 25 sheets on 120gsm paper, it won't go in the stapler. Will consider a POD (print on demand) version through lulu, and distribution, later; I am focusing on research in tandem with production now.

Standard Measures : assembling the book in Word. © Katya Robin 2012

17 Sept 2012

I have been working on the technical specifications; thinking it through by doing various working drawings.

photographed the Standard Measures in Cheney Row, Sheffield S1, (to be assembled into a concertina fold book?)
following advise from Bardwells, bought: 
  • 12 mes bulb holders, 
  • 8V  bulbs, wire, 
  • 2.1 socket, 
  • white insulating tape. 
but still need to locate: 
  • back board, 
  • white spray paint,  
  • transformer/power supply,
  • screws, 
  • solder & iron
  • and rest of assembly 
Booked an appointment with SHU Business Start Up to discuss selling multiples arising from this project.

15 Sept 2012 

Development notes for 12x12x12

 The 12-base number system does so much more than the decimal. Inches, feet and yards have a tangible physical connection.  12 is variously divisible into whole numbers, without the awkwardness of a decimal point.

I recently ordered birch plywood sheets to be cut down to make drawings boards to fit my papers. The salesman, although he deftly switched from imperial measurements to decimal, still confused mm and cm.  Decimal, although initially easier to grasp, can just be a confusing line of numbers, e.g. 1080 mm; it depends on precise details, getting the decimal point in the right place, not writing 108mm when you mean 108cm. Thankfully, the guy doing the cutting decided to query the measurements, or my drawing boards would all be  strips of 8ft x 10.8cm. 

Since, UK Decimal Day (15 February 1971) imperial measuring systems have never been totally displaced. Many people still think in ‘old money’ terms, or use a mixture of old and new. Inches, feet and yards still have currency, even though officially superseded.

On 12 December 1912, the unit of 12 inches and it’s multiples were officially defined and enforced.
The Sheffield Standard Measures

For several hundred years, Standard Measures were displayed in a public place so that commercial disputes about Short Measures could be settled without an argument.
The Measures are a symbol of local government, as well as an early example of consumer protection and were one of the first in the UK to incorporate metric as well as imperial measures.
This set of Standard Measures were not the first in Sheffield but are important because they were presented to the city by the Earl Fitzwilliam who was Lord Mayor at the time, during a visit to Sheffield of the British Association in 1910.
The Measures were originally put in St Paul's Parade, and were relocated to Cheney Row in 1998.


For 12x12x12, I am focusing on the unit of the inch and feet. The work will be a colourful celebration of the inch unit, in keeping with the time of year of the exhibition (12-24 December 2012).

1" grid ruler for patchwork ( 6 x 24")


29 July 2012

Mecca Bingo, Flat St, Sheffield S1 2BA

4 July 2012

Using maths systems for colour and structure.

Alfred Jensen: the number paintings
Pace Wildenstein; illustrated edition edition (Feb 2006), 978-1930743649

Catalogue of the exhibition of the same title held at Pace Wildenstein, New York: September 29 - October 28, 2006.

Press release of recent Alfred Jensen & Sol Lewitt show (pdf) 

2 July 2012
window pane grid in useful sculpture ( i.e. furniture)

room dividers (used to be called screens) 

27 June 2012
SITE VISIT: Bank St Arts with Lou 

I was struck by the lovely Georgian windows onto Gallery 4, which each have 12 panes in the classic 6 over 6 style of says windows. Some detail at  http://visitinghousesandgardens.wordpress.com/tag/early-georgian-windows/ about dating Georgian properties by their windows, as laws relating to placement of windows were changed following the Great Fire of London. The new rules didn't apply beyond London until 1820. Further research about the windows to follow up.

Early thoughts on incorporating the windows as a reflection on the theme:

variously coloured acrylic inserted over each pane, or a transparent blind.
shutters over each pane (or window installation), a small door to open (i.e. Advent calendar)

I'm also developing a project about pavements, and it seems my gaze is again cast downwards to admire the beauty of traces of use of the floor at BSA. The floorboards are presently stripped and bear signs of use and footfall,  also previous artworks which made use of the floor (circle dot stickers by Human and buttons posted through during the House of Secret Histories).  Originally Georgian floorboards were often painted. 
Subject to permission, it would be interesting to use the floor as the basis for an artwork. Possibly making a taped grid based on the existing dimensions of the room and it's features, and painting specific squares in suitable colours, numbering them. People using the room would unwittingly become pieces in a room-sized (floor)board game.

Some initial works on theme of the 12x grid.


  1. Katya, great research, very inspiring work process and work!!

  2. Fab research, really interesting and inspiring seeing it come together. Just thinking about your book dilemma can you not get print services to print it and then you do 'perfect binding' in print room. Which is a very simple but sturdy bind basically glueing all the pages together at the spine or chat to Mike he does quite a bit of book binding.