Some experimental mixed media landscapes I have been working on recently…
I won’t say too much about them at this point, but I am stepping out of my comfort zone a little here and trying something new…
A couple of months ago I went to the auctions with my friend Pete (who I got my perforator from) and came home with what I consider to be a little bargain.
It is two volumes of prints of paintings from the collection of Eugène Secrétan, the nineteenth century French industrialist who made his fortune in copper production. Unfortunately for him, his immense fortune did not last and his large collection of paintings , sculptures, furniture and objet d’art were sold at auction to pay off his debts – these books are, in effect, auction catalogues.
They are quite big (15⅞ x 11⅜” – 381 x 279mm) and are composed of loose sheets taped into pairs and sewn, covered with a light brown card jacket, folded over the front and back leaves. Essentially unbound, but I have since seen a few copies on the web that have been bound in leather.
The text is beautifully set in a variety of metal type and letterpressed throughout. The paper is a heavy smooth stock, which I estimate is about 220gsm and has some yellowing and foxing around the edges, as well as a little water damage here and there.
The first few text pages are quite heavily printed and wonderfully tactile. I know this will have the purists screaming, but I like it.
Each page has a tissue mask tipped in, covering the print beneath:
And followed with a description.
The prints are photogravure – hand printed from copper plates (how ironic) that had been coated with light sensitive chemicals and acid etched. This allows for good reproduction of fine detail and subtle continuous tones, perfect for art prints.
The majority of the prints clearly show the impression of the plate.
Each print is of a different size that follows the proportions of the originals, but to give you an idea of the scale, the image below measures 8⅝ x 6⅜” (203 x 152mm)
There are two volumes in all and they are missing a few prints each, but not many. And the price? £9. Bargain.
I’ll post another selection soon…
I have just spent a very diverting weekend in London. After attending the Design For Music Conference at St.Bride’s Library (more of which another time) I met up with my good friend Christian for a catch-up and some expensive lager. On a slightly blurry morning after, in search of a good breakfast and some highly medicinal coffee, we headed out towards the legendary Portobello Market. It was heaving with tourists, fashionistas and, quite possibly, a few locals; but it was really difficult to tell. A good rummage around lots of vintage stuff and tat was had by us both and a small addition to my printing paraphernalia was acquired (to be revealed later!)
In the midst of all this, with stomachs stretched taut like a couple of pregnant hippos, we waddled onwards in search of the fabled coffee. In the middle of all the hubbub, Christian stooped to pick up something from the floor, which turned out to be the tiny Polaroid photo shown above. It is a bit scuffed from spending some time on the ground and was still developing – I thought it was an old photo that had faded but as I looked up I saw the buildings further up the road. We were in the opposite direction from where the shot was originally taken, so we headed off for a better look. Sure enough, we located the exact spot that it must have been taken, but neither of us could get a similar wide angle shot with our cameras. Christian suggested to try for a shot with the original photo held up in the right place, but again, I couldn’t get the angle right. Below is a look at the photo from the same viewpoint:
And the best shot I could get to replicate the original :
It turned out that the Polaroid was probably taken a few minutes before we stumbled upon it – the cars – even though you can see in my shot, were the same.
Ok, so this is not groundbreaking stuff, but maybe it is just a little moment to consider one or two of the vagaries of life; the coincidence of this particular ‘lost and found,’ that maybe we were meant to find this photo. Maybe it was left there for us. Maybe someone is looking for it. I don’t know, but like it anyway.
Keep it safe Christian – there might be a reason why you felt compelled to pick it up and hold on to it…
See the comments…
The first bit of snow and the country grinds to a halt! I’m pretty tired of the news images of abandoned cars and endless traffic jams. I guess I’m trying to keep up some semblance of optimism despite all of the things that seem to conspire to keep me at a low ebb.
The Lestarets have been out to play in the snow, and enjoyed a very bracing winter walk along the riverside too. I’ve also been trying to make the most of the weather photographically too. No snaps of picturesque churches under a peaceful blanket of snow, or a single bud poking out through a white shroud, oh, no! I have celebrated the wonder of the ice on the windows:
The Lestarets, along with a few friends (and pretty much the rest of King’s Lynn by the looks of it!) headed out to The Walks this evening for the bonfire and fireworks display. Great company, great fireworks and some fairly decent photographs too:
And while I was peering into the flames, I started to take notice of the fairground rides on the other side of the park:
And this one was taken through the heat haze of the bonfire (just visible at the bottom) of the flashing sign of ‘The Meteorite.’ I took a good half a dozen shots to try and capture the whole word, but this one was the best with just part of the ‘R’ missing.
Ah, bonfire night, the night of the long exposure…
What can I say? Autumn is upon us in a big way and I can’t help being affected by the changing colours. I have been documenting the ‘turn’ of my Boston Ivy over the last month, photographing the same patch each morning and afternoon to chart the changes in colour. I aim to compile these as an animation and post them here when all thoughts of autumn are gone, the depressing, dismal stretch of winter sets in, and we need a burst of colour to cheer us up!
This evening as I arrived home I was amazed at the spread of colours on the one plant, so I swiftly plucked a handful of leaves and scanned them. Being a bit of a graphic designer geek (OK – a lot of a geek!) I also Pantone matched them. I first used the median filter, set to 100% in PhotoShop to create a more standardised colour field, then sampled the broadest sweeps of colour to capture the Pantone colour:
OK – this is not a scientific method as the filter uses all of the pixels, including the white highlights, but I feel that they are honest enough to pass muster.
Anyway, enjoy the colour around you before it’s gone… remember, this is nature’s last ‘Hurrah!’
ADDITIONAL – check out Chris Glass’ blog from 2006. I feel like I’ve been really naughty!
I’ve had a load of old boiler plates knocking around for years, courtesy of my father-in-law (who has known to have kept a stick in the corner of his garage for up to 20 years -‘just in case!’) and the most interesting of them are fastened to a scruffy bit of wall in my garden. In July, I decided to make some moulds from a few of them, with a view to making some book covers or something. I did all the usual processes to make the moulds – most of which I have already covered here. Here are the four original metal plates:
As I wasn’t sure what to do with any casts made from the moulds, I decided to have a little experiment. Using the last of a batch of terracotta cast – a sort of plaster and iron powder mix – I cast one of each. When they were set, I gave them a quick scrub to bring up the surface, and soaked them in water overnight to set the rusting process off. The results can be found on my Flickr site showing how they looked soon after creation.
The experiment began when I took them home. I did absolutely nothing to them. Just put them outside in the garden and left them to the elements. Of course, the British summer being what it is, they continued to rust and deteriorate. Beautiful colours and textures began to bloom, and the material took on another form:
This last one became very fragile and contained a lot of iron – it must have been the last one cast and got all the sedimentary gunk out of the pot. After a couple of weeks outside, it begun to curl as the iron rusted and expanded. Eventually it shattered, but still make for interesting viewing as it reveals how the iron powder settles to the bottom in the mould and forms a thick crust:
Mmm. Nice. Anyway here are some more photographs – click on them to see larger versions. Enjoy!
This one has some of the paint that was on the original, that was transferred to the mould.
I’ve just been updating my Flickr page. There are over a hundred images already uploaded, all at reasonably high resolution. There are loads of textures – great for Photoshop layers, and general image manipulation. All copyright free and available to use in your own work – just don’t claim you took them, or give me a credit somewhere. If you do use any of them – send me a copy – I’d love to see what you get up to…
I picked this poster up at a car boot sale earlier this summer for 30p! Its a lubrication chart for the Austin A30/35 showing what needs doing, where and when. There was an awful lot of faffing about in those days. As a man firmly won over by the sheer reliability of modern Japanese cars, seeing this shows just how far the technology has come since 1951 – cars were machinery which needed regular maintenance to keep them going. Click the image below for a good enlargement of the whole thing.
The car itself was quite stylish when it was first launched (see the link above for a potted history) and paved the way for others, such as the Saab 92 below:
It has been set in that old chestnut of British typefaces, Gill Sans and printed in black and red (the printers choice!) on a stiff cream paper stock. As you can see from the whole picture, it’s in great condition, and conjures up a different age, where cars were cared for and ‘fettled’ by middle aged men in middle class garages. I’d love to see how the modern driving theory test would handle this type information!
I love the language of old technology, and particularly bemoan the loss of grease nipples, for the obvious (and very childish) reasons. Check out this great sketch from Fry and Laurie from about 20 years ago – it reminds me of going to the hardware shop with my Dad as kid and listening to all this strange language spoken by adults! And it’s really funny!