Wednesday, 22 December 2010

How convert Excel charts into bitmap images

I have found information online about making knitting charts in Excel, but once the chart is made, I didn't find a satisfactory method to convert these charts into bitmaps, to use as images online, paste into Word, or to use in PDF documents. A simple screenshot will have poor resolution, especially when working with bigger charts.

This is the method I came up with, there is a bit of going back and forth between platforms, but the result will be a high resolution image.

First, you need to draw your chart in Excel, or a similar spreadsheet program. Using a knitting font such as this one, it will be easy. There are also several tutorials online about drawing your knitting charts with Excel, they will show up in a quick Google search.

Ok, we have our chart finished:

Now we will convert it to PDF format. So let's first select just the chart (or everything we want to export):

Then we will go to the Office Button and click on Save as > PDF or XPS:

We will then click on Options, and select the Selection radio button, then click OK:

If your chart is very big, it will be cut off in different pages when you export to PDF. To avoid this, in Excel, go to the Office Button > Print > Print Preview. In this screen, click on Page Setup. Under Scaling, set the Fit to to one page wide by one page tall (you may also want to choose landscape if the chart is long), then click OK and exit the Print Preview. When you export the selection onto PDF, it will then be fitted to one page wide by one tall.

Now we have a PDF file in the destination folder we chose, with the chart in it. If you want to publish only your chart in PDF format (you can also add a little text in the Excel file), this will be your last step.

To convert to image, we will now need to open the PDF in a program that will allow us to do this, like for example GSview.

We will now go to File > Convert, and in the menu choose jpeg and 600 resolution, then click Ok:

Don't forget to add the .jpg extension when chosing a filename.

Now we have a high resolution jpeg file in the destination folder we chose. We can now edit this image in an image edition program such as IrfanView.

We can crop it and resize it, for example. If you want to use it in Word or for a PDF, you may want a bigger resolution than for web. Let's crop and resize this picture to use it in Word. We select the area we want, then crop it by going to Edit > Crop selection:

We will still have a very big image:

So we will resize it, go to Image > Resize/resample, then choose your width or height:

Now we can insert this image into Word. Open your Word file and place your cursor where you want to insert the image. Then click on Insert > Picture:

And select your cropped image. You can now resize it as you like:

Going one step further, you can also convert your finished word document to PDF for publishing.
Go to the Office Button and click on Save as > PDF or XPS:


Monday, 20 December 2010

First post

I have decided to start a blogger knitting... blog ;P

I also have a knitting livejournal, but 90% of my posts there are private, notes to myself, pattern notes, links to other websites, wishlists, stuff like that. The one useful post there may be this one: Online Yarn Shops in Europe. Maybe I should copy it here later on. This list was compiled with the help of many helpful members from Ravelry. My username in Ravelry is medvssa.

Despite the fact that I only started knitting in March 2009, I love it and I have a lot of ideas, so I have started writing my own little patterns. I think I will put them up in Ravelry, but it would also be a nice idea to have them elsewhere, so this blog will be it. I have also my own website, my enamelled jewellery gallery:, so I can host my patterns there.

And that will be all for now, I guess ;P A mitten pattern or two coming very soon!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Mistletoe II

Enamel over copper, brass, peridot, vesuvianite and moss agate.
Enamel 5.5 x 2.5 cm, 44 to 51 cm adjustable lenght of necklace + 2 earrings (4.5 cm long).

Mistletoe III

Enamel over copper, sterling silver, assorted beads:
Glass, aventurine, calcite, different sorts of agate, aragonite, labradorite and peridot.
5 x 3.3cm, 47 cm lenght of necklace + 2 earrings (5 and 5.5 cm long).


Graphite and enamel over copper, sterling silver, agate beads, and three glass beads (the grey ones at the center and the drop at the back).

2.5cm diameter. 48 cm long necklace.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


On glaze paint over enamel over copper, sterling silver, quartz, coral and lace.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Spell of Destruction

Spell of Destruction

Enamel: 8 x 5 cm, total pendant: 8 x 10 x 0.6 cm, necklace: 42.5 cm.
Enamel and onglaze paint over copper, sterling silver, volcanic stone, ebony, carbonised beech, cornaline.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Rising copper

New video!

This video shows fragments from a process of about two hours.

Here I am raising 0.8mm rectangular copper sheet, doming it from the center in a soft slope towards all edges which lay flat on the table.

Due to the hardening of the copper as it is worked, I annealed (and pickled, which is not shown) the metal several times to re-cristallise the molecules.

The sheet is worked over a flat anvil with a boxwood hammer and a steel hammer, the latter has a "drop of wax" polished head that transfers this sheen onto the copper. I also used a steel burnisher for laying the edges flat.
The raising hammering motion follows a nearly-spiral pattern, from the center to the edges, and the hammering stops at two or three millimeters from the edge. This process is repeated, and little adjustments made, several times, until the desired shape is achieved and the plate doesn't wobble when spun, which shows if the curves are balanced.

The final polish is achieved with a glass fiber brush and powdered pumice stone. After a final cleaning of grease, dirt and any oxide that may be left, the plate will be ready for enamelling.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Enamelling and painting videos

To watch them in order, go here.

Some new videos!

And a few older ones that fell between the cracks:

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Painting watercolours with glass

As they are most often used, applied directly onto the metal, transparent vitreous enamels allow us to see through them the substrate below. Be it gold, silver or copper, the metal lends not only its hue, but also its metallic reflection. This reflection of the light makes it difficult for the viewer to see defined changes in colour, and so it is not ideal for painting with enamel, as detail will be lost.

A very often used device to separate colours and define shapes is to do this with thin wires, what we call cloissonné. The result is stylised and graphic and the technique has become a favourite by its own merits. Champlevé, often even more stylised, can also help us in this department, and the raised metal sections become a very predominant part of the design.

Another way of dealing with this is to eliminate the sheen of the metal substrate by blocking it with a layer of opaque or semi-opaque (opaline) enamel, and then work with transparent enamels over it. Doing this we alter the look of the enamel significantly, to the extent that it may not even be recognised as enamel by untrained eyes.

I first came across this "technique" via a school exercise, while I was a student in the enamel department of the arts and crafts academy Llotja, in Barcelona.

Apart from the all-important workshop class, we also had other classes, as I realised later, as important as the workshop: such as Art History, Technical drawing, Artistic drawing (with live model), and so on. One of the subjects was Projects, and there we worked with pen and paper, many sorts of paints, and a great array of unorthodox materials. One of the assignments was to work freehand with watercolours, anilines and whichever other paint we came across, on big pieces of paper, and then select fragments of these "paintings" to form a composition in a rectangle.

With this we moved on to the workshop, and the task was then to reproduce this as faithfully as possible in enamel. This wasn't as easy as I expected it to be. It was also great fun.

My composition revealed much of the white paper below, and had bleeds, sfumatos and clean edges of colour characteristic of watercolour. Not often associated with enamel, though. Of course, the only way to go about this was to eliminate the sheen from the metal substrate. But I went with opaline enamel instead of opaque, since it has a softer porcelain appearance, as a bit of the light penetrates the milky layer of enamel on its translucent upper surface, and is then softly refracted in all directions. Opaque enamels completely stop the light, and then the appearance of the transparent enamels on top is more flat and harsh. This may be the desired effect, but I most often reach for the opaline enamel. My favourite for this task being the pure white, porcelain-like Schauer 64.

In class we only used Soyer enamels, though, so I must have used Soyer 101, opal white, for my school exercise:

Soyer 101 is rather sheer, even when fired to the top of its opalescence (short fires will leave it almost transparent), and it takes a few layers to hide the pinkish hue of the copper below. Which may be a good thing if one wants to reproduce pinkish skin tones. Gold substrate, or layers of peach, golden and chocolate enamels will work well for achieving honey-coloured to deep chocolate skin tones. Unless going for some sort of mythological creature, the bluish tinge of silver better be countered with other hues, or eliminated with opaque or transparent enamels.

And so it is that this school exercise proved very useful to me years later, when I wanted to achieve a particular effect, like that of working with watercolours, which in many ways behave just as transparent enamels.

Both watercolours and transparent enamels bounce part of the light back in colours, but also let the rest of the light go through to the substrate, instead of absorbing it (like gouache or opaque enamels), and so the only way to achieve white is by not painting over the substrate (the white paper or the opaque/opal enamel). Multiple or saturated layers of watercolour provide very vibrant, luminous colours, precisely due to their transparency, as the light can in a way illuminate them from within. This is even more so in transparent enamels, where the thickness of this layer is significant. These pieces, just as watercolours, are difficult to photograph, since the very subtle play of light is partially lost.

In this picture, the opaque details of on glaze and their shadows below help to show the depth of the transparent enamel underneath.

I will now illustrate the point with the step by step process I followed to enamel this necklace:

I started with a white base of Schauer 64, just like one of these:

I then wet packed my design with finely ground transparents, so that I could obtain the detail I wanted:

After firing:

To give more depth to the stamen,  to avoid a "step" between the green and the white, and to transition a soft green at the base of the flower, I applied a layer of fine Soyer 101 to the flower:

After firing:

I then proceeded to enamel the stamen with yellow again and added some emerald green enamel to the bottom for depth, and I was done with the transparent enamel:

Now, further detailing can be obtained with successive layers of transparent enamels. These two pieces were enamelled in this way:

In the case of the calla lily, however, I chose to do most of the detailing with opaque on glaze paint, of which the pieces above have only a few touches, which would amount to fine detailing over a watercolour with gouache or ink. This was my first layer of oil on glaze paint:


And the second and last layer, for shading of the flower and veins on the leaves, fired:


Layered colour palettes are very useful when enamel painting. They show us how different colour look when layered on top of eachother. Palettes with several layers also help us see how an enamel gains saturation with successive layers. Colour palettes with the transparent enamels layered over opaque white and opal white are also obviously very useful for painting over white.

I also like to use one layer of transparent enamel over Schauer 64 for a soft background where I then paint with on glaze paints:

See progress here.