Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Just a wee note to say how happy I am to meet all my new followers ... and to tell you as well, how much I appreciate your visits and wonderful comments. Hope to be more blog attentive in the next few weeks. Work seems to be falling like a load of bricks, which is a good thing, but certainly not nearly as much fun as mooning over the pages of your lovely blogs.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
... perhaps a bit of French inspiration to boost your creative impasse (or mine)!
photo ⓒJaques Dirand
Old walls have a way of holding memories ... and in quiet interludes, releasing murmurs of the past.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Today the mailman may have delivered the best package EVER … and confirmed, once again, how the 'best things' really do come in the smallest packages!
I’m sure many of you already have a few of Sharon de Vries’ wee treasures in your collections, but to be able to hold one of her knitted pieces is as close to miraculous, in the world of miniatures, as one might ever get. I’ll swear to the fact you’ll need two pair of magnifying glasses, on top of the ones you already wear, to see the intricate patterns and the almost imperceptible gauge ... and once seen you’ll swear too that you’ve gone dreaming the dream every miniature artisan or collector dreams … you know … the one about being able to zap life-sized objects flawlessly down to scale, like Sharon appears to have done. Having only seen enlarged photographs of her work, I never imagined it was so incredibly fine. It’s near impossible to compare the actuality of her work to the two-times-over magnification of those featured in photographs, although they do show the details beautifully, they fail to show the almost incomprehensible delicacy of the in-hand reality.
Pictured below, you’ll see five of her little creations set against an illustration from an antique baby book (a long christening gown, a matinee jacket, a cap and a pair of booties) and again, photographed on a silk baby jacket and another baby book. It took me a day and a half before I trusted myself to remove this little set from its presentation card, for fear I might ruin the perfection of it all … but I needed to photograph it to share my good fortune with you, although on the page only … ‘cause it's all mine, mine, MINE … yea! : )
Monday, May 30, 2011
WHOOPS ... had a blow-out in my knee! What a great, embarrassing kerfuffle (paramedics, ambulance, emergency room). Now must go for an MRI (yikes ... I don't do doctors!), so will be in touch when I'm allowed to sit at the computer again. Have already gone through six books in as many days ... hope my eyes hold up through the seige.
A very happy welcome to my new followers ... will send a proper thanks soon.
THESE ARE MY NEW 'GET-WELL' SLIPPERS!
A very happy welcome to my new followers ... will send a proper thanks soon.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
THE BEAUTY OF LIGHT FROM BEHIND
There's no denying the part light plays in making beautiful photographs, and if landscape photography and images drawn from the natural world are what make your heart sing then you're probably already well acquainted with the beguiling soft light of early morning, and the depth of it's layered descent available in the evening hours; each end of night and day so capable of evoking either a subtle, dreamlike aura, or dramatic definition to what might otherwise be just another ordinary image.
Over the years I've found my personal preference to light leans entirely towards a naturally available source, where I almost always forego the use of strobes, on-camera flash, fill flash, and the harsh, oftentimes unflattering effects of bright sunlight ... although all of those artificial means of lighting certainly have their uses, and do make for some very wonderfully dramatic images in their own right ... so, first and foremost, it's always the mood your after that counts. I suppose it's readily apparent I gravitate toward the more romantic end of the photographic spectrum, especially in portraiture, and in still life shooting as well ... where subdued window light (occasionally reverting to a soft, reflective surface to help alleviate shadows), or shooting on an overcast day can give the most pleasing effects. However, if you're hoping to convey an even a broader, more hopelessly romantic, timeless appeal to your images, or imbue them with that glowing 'light from within' impact ... then the art of backlighting (my absolute favorite) just might be the best way to highlight your subject matter. In photography there is nothing quite so intriguing and delicately defining, as the use of backlight for beautiful imagery. In it you can find the eternal promise behind every vein on a new leaf ... or in the pastoral beauty of sheep grazing in low-light, their haloed, unshorn bodies partially silhouetted against the setting sun, or in the wonder of glory-bound clouds rimmed by a hidden sun. There is too, the tender, subtle magic of a child's countenance rendered soft and lovely beneath a crown of curls, each tendril (whether dark or light) picked out to perfection. And as well, in the details of old linens and tattered lace held up to the light, exposing a finer view of the handworked hours recording the past ... and, I would be remiss failing to mention the enduring, mystical splendor of the sun in full eclipse. All of these magnificent sights, and resulting photographic captures, owe their wonder to the 'beauty of light from behind'.
It may take you a few hours or days of practice to make the most of this timeless art ... but it's a skill you'll never be disappointed you took the time to learn ... and the first lesson in learning to use backlight is to toss away all your preconceived ideas about photographic light shining directly onto your intended subject, and that it must come from behind the photographer ... rather by placing what you wish to photograph directly in front of your light source, ambient or otherwise, with and the sun shining directly (or slightly obliquely) into your lens (many will warn you to beware lens flare, but I have made some wonderful images incorporating it into the atmosphere of the whole). Your second lesson will be to go 'online' and search 'backlighting your photographs' where you'll be able to find several tutorials illuminating the art of it all much better than I could ever hope to. It may take a few hours or days of practice and experimentation, keeping in mind that practice and experimentation make photographic art, if not close to perfect, then ever so much more interesting and diverse ... especially considering how much easier and less costly it is to discard mistakes with today's digital equipment.
I'll leave off here by saying ... that the study of backlight is a lasting gift you can give yourself, and one you'll never regret taking the time to learn ... I promise! Now... give me some mist, fog, haze sheltered sun, and other inclement weather conditions (especially those appearing after a clearing storm) and I'll be off and running, camera in hand, for as long as it takes to capture the ephemeral and fleeting that have the power to vanish as quickly as the 'blink of a camera's eye ... to become nothing more than momentary memories. So, be quick on the trigger finger and keep your eyes peeled for 'the beauty of light from behind'.
All images below were rendered by backlight ...
1:12th scale miniature display clothing
Antique child's summer dress ... ca. 1860
Embroidery detail on a 1920's China silk kimono
Detail of an Edwardian corset cover (camisole)
Skirt detail on an Edwardian, organdy graduation dress ... ca. 1915
Sleeve and button detail on the same dress
Portrait featuring antique children's clothing ... ca. 1910
The Petticoat Ballet ... antique slips billowing in the wind
Private portrait ... using backlight and lens flare for softening effect
Private portrait ... using backlight to highlight a crown of curls
Antique crib (cot or lit de bebe) illustratating backlight for atmosphere and illusion
Isabella's Antique Bonnet ... backlit hair and profile
Mary at Aine's Window ... Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Photographic illustration for 'The Changeling' (a faery child) ... from W. B. Yeats' poem 'The Stolen Child'
Roses floating in water near a window
'The Mists of Avalon' ... taken in the Scottish Highlands
Old fisherman, almost silhouetted by backlighting ... Port de Nice, France
Friday, May 13, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
A FEW HOURS LATE FOR MOTHER'S DAY ... but a poem worth reading nevertheless.
"The Lanyard" by Billy Collins
The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past —
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the archaic truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.
In the contemporary child's world a 'lanyard' is a woven plastic keyring attatchment ... and, if you ever went to summer camp, you probably made one too.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
In memory of my beautiful, beloved mother ... you are missed beyond belief.
Mothers must draw a subtle line
Finer than any thread is fine
Must firmly hold, but never clutch
Must freely give, but not too much
Must stand apart, but not too far
Must heal the wound, but bless the scar
And falsely speaking, truly tell
And guarding, never guard too well
And hearing, fail to overhear
And fearing all things, have no fear
And loving, love each child the best
Yet not one child more than the rest
Friday, May 6, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
ALL THE THINGS I MANAGED TO SAVE FROM
AT THE MORRO BAY CITYWIDE YARD SALE
AND JUNK FEST ... !
An abondoned shoebox of forlorn miniatures,
SAVED for a rainy day of creative speculation
and little daydreams.
Discarded charm, SAVED to pillow weary heads
and secret nighttime readers.
Price tags still attached.
A clear shot of the Guerlain bottle ... almost six inches tall!
SAVED for the colour of its sky blue stopper and tarnished label.
An old Edwardian candy box and French perfume bottle,
SAVED for the beauty of it all.
Two lovely, tarnished silver ladies, SAVED for Christmas next,
and everyday before and thereafter.
A sweet Saint, dressed in satin lustre and sparkling stars,
SAVED from the hands of someone who should
never have let it go!
Two beautiful old French books ... dated 1718 and 1774
SAVED from a life of dust and mold and jaded eyes!
A ruched 1940's bedjacket,
SAVED for a lifetime of complementing
a favourite pair of old, tattered, faded Levis.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
A FEW MORE STERLING SILVER PIECES TO SHARE
BEFORE I HIT THE ROAD AGAIN!
Pierced bride's basket, and oval picture frames by ... could it be Gordon Blacklock?
Porringer, silver capped inkwells, chased hairbrush all by Obadiah Fisher
Ivory and sterling baby teether by David Edwards
Engraved 'Baby' cup by Pete Aquisto
Candlesticks by various artisans
Occassional table by Warren Dick
CLEANING MINIATURE SILVER
Even though I like a bit of tarnish and patina on my human-sized pieces of silver, miniature silver should never be left to tarnish long, as it's almost impossible to restore its original shine without a lot of tedious, time consuming effort. When I do polish I use a dampened Q-Tip (cotton swab) and a bit of silver paste (Wrights is good, or any other non-abrasive brand), but never a liquid dip, as it will remove all that lovely dark tarnish that has gathered in the nooks and crannies to outline the details. I keep a glass of hot water handy to drop the pieces in when finished, and after the water bath use a fine, soft brush to remove any residue that may remain in a few tight places ... rinse again, then use a tea-shirt like fabric (preferably 100% cotton) to polish gently. If you've missed some of the paste it will show white when dried, and you can remove it then. Word of warning ... never do your cleaning near an open drain! You will cry yourself to sleep fretting over some little lovely that took a notion to explore the dark underbelly of the kitchen sink ... trust me on this one! When you've finished polishing it all, there's nothing quite so satisfying as the lustre of old silver mixed amongst all your beautiful weensie crystal, and embroidered linens.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Hello and Goodbye ... all in the same breath!
Just a short mini (ha!) post between a stop-over at home, and leaving for another job tomorrow. Glorious weather to work in ... finally, and just enough time in town to frolic through our annual Morro Bay citywide yard-sale last weekend! What fun, although I didn't find nearly as much as I did last year ... will post pix as soon as I return. Thanks everyone, for putting up with all this sporadic blogging ... hope to settle down, and have more time at home soon. Here's wishing everyone a sweet few weeks whilst all this lovely air is upon us and hoping too that springtime holds court longer than usual! This is my favorite season, and it seems to be rushing by way too fast for me to keep up!
A TRAY FULL OF BEAUTIFUL BABY SILVER
What a lousy record keeper I turned out to be! I'm so sorry I can't remember the name of the gentleman who made the wee cup (about the size of a pencil eraser) and porringer (charmingly dented due to an unfortunate vacuum tragedy). I suppose I thought my memory would last forever, since I hardly ever use it, but alas, no such luck. However, I do remember he was from England, and that I bought it at the 'Good Sam' show in Santa Clara, California. The practically infinitesimal, curved handled baby spoon is by Pete Aquisto, whom I'm assuming has had to order new magnifying glasses rivaling the Hubble telescope, in order to have actually crafted a pattern on the handle of it. I also have a beautiful little cup Pete made that has 'Baby' engraved on it ... yup! ... new glasses for sure! All these pieces are sterling, and another porringer I have (a bit larger than this one) has a hallmark I'm sure no human can possibly read ... Hubble or no! For those of you unfamiliar with the term porringer (pronounced poor-en-jur) ... a porringer is a little bowl with a pierced, decorative handle (or sometimes two) made for baby's bit of porridge (e.g. oatmeal, mush, cooked cereal ... remember Goldilocks?). Nowadays they are almost always done in silver or pewter, and many times a spoon, a cup or a porringer, or all three in a set, are given as traditional christening gifts, meant to endure being passed down through several generations as treasured family heirlooms. I know one family whose little silver bowl has felt the grasp of so many tiny hands you'd be hard pressed to find space enough to engrave the name and date of birth of yet one more single newborn! In colonial times and earlier, porringers were used by adults as well, and came in a variety of materials. Hand carved, turned, or shaped by hand in bone, wood, ceramics and porcelain, they rarely survived the rigors of everyday use, so much so that serviceable antique pieces like them are extremely rare today and therefore quite collectible. Okay, I've worn my brain out trying to think of all these official sounding words! So ... grateful that you all must be ... I won't even begin to go into 'pap boats' during this lifetime, or the next.