Thursday, November 19, 2009

Olde City Carriage Company

I've know since something like the second day of commuting to Center City Philadelphia from the Fishtown area that I walked past a small stable. Of horses. The Olde City Carriage Company.

One day, standing on the subway (elevated though) forty-odd feet above the street, I heard the slow clip-clop of a horse. Unfortunately I couldn't see anything.

Imagine my delight when not once, but three times this week I've passed this horse and carriage during my morning walk to the subway station, on their own workday commute. I really wanted to take a proper photograph of them, but I didn't want to come off as a crazy person. I also wish the background were a little more picturesque, but then you don't have your horse stables in the poshest parts of the city.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ruby Ambrotypes

An ordinary ambrotype is a photograph made using a collodion (cellulose nitrate) binder on a glass support. The resulting image is actually white, so it looks like a negative. In order for the image to look like a positive, the back of the glass is coated with a dark paint or lacquer or a piece of dark paper or fabric is put behind it.

I knew the one ambrotype that I purchased was a typical ambrotype, since I could see where some of the lacquer was chipped off. The other ambrotype, I really liked the image, and I had a feeling that maybe it was a ruby ambrotype. A ruby ambrotype doesn't need black lacquer or black paper or anything because it was made on a sheet of dark glass.

I dismantled everything once I returned home, to my mini-suction cup. Somebody had attached dark fragments from 35mm film rolls on the back with like medical tape. On September 22, 2006. Which was interesting. I decided to remove it (for a couple reasons, one on which is that it is my object now - ha!). It didn't need anything black behind it anyway, because it was a ruby ambrotype. I could tell as soon as I removed the brass frame - I could see the edge of the glass.

Sweet! (The circle in the middle is my camera lense reflecting off the glass). My classmate Lisa analyzed a bunch of these during our second year in school, and it turns out that the compound used to make this color is manganese.

You were so worth that $30 Creepy-Eyed Dude.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Daguerreian Society, alternately titled, I Score at the Trade Show

The annual meeting of The Daguerreian Society took place this Wednesday-Sunday in Philadelphia. This was fantastic, as they hosted a day of lectures, several of which were given by conservators. The people in the Daguerreian Society are kind of crazy - everyone who is really into daguerreotypes always is - and are mostly dealers and collectors mixed with a few artists and conservators.

I took one of my research days to attend the all-day Friday symposium. The next day, Saturday, was the trade show and auction. Though I am being paid in Real Money these days, I certainly don't have enough to participate in an auction and to attempt to purchase important things. However, I decided to go to the trade show to check out what was being offered.

All photograph conservators have study collections: examples of the different photographic processes, strange things, or interesting damages. I had no daguerreotypes or ambrotypes in my study collection, and I was hoping to score some cheap ones (who cares if they have some damages - that would be more intersting) at the trade show. Incedentially, I was going through my study collection about a week ago and I have a load of tintypes. Daguerreotypes are more expensive now than they were twenty years ago, so I gave myself a budget and crossed my fingers.

Most of the stuff there was really expensive, and I wanted say to some of the dealers, "Seriously? $35 for a cabinet card? $6,000 for this daguerreotype? Are you out of your mind?" But I looked carefully and chose wisely and smiled big and chatted with the dealers and scored some good stuff.

An unmounted albumen print. This one used to have hand coloring (you can see it along the right edge) but it faded.

Another albumen print: photographs were often made of paintings and sculpture and used in art history classes. (This is one of those.)

An opaltype! In a case that used to be mauve velvet - oh those Victorians... An opaltype is a photograph, either a silver gelatin or carbon print, on a piece of milk glass. I'm pretty pleased with this.

An ambrotype. The case is broken, but I can fix that. I have a Master of Science in this stuff.

Another ambrotype: a ruby ambrotype!

A daguerreotype! The glass is dirty and there is some tarnish but whatever.

Another daguerreotype! No case with this one, but I'd rather have no case than one that is missing the lid.

Yet another daguerreotype! This one is a little dark with tarnish but with some hand coloring (like on the table cloth). But awesome!

Success. The study collection has been added to and I came in a bit under the $250 budget. I feel like I should win a prize or something.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Recent Acquisition

These are newly acquired: one of the conservators at work found these boots at Goodwill for $6.00 - she brought them in, saying, "They're too small for me. Anyone who wants them can have them for $6.00. They're actually pretty expensive shoes."

Small enough for me! And, post-internet-searching, three-hundred and eighty dollars cheaper! Woo!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Manifestation! Philly Remix!

It is apparently my fate to move to a new city and to use the public transit system (however inconvenient, as I am attempting to save the world in a small way) only to have the public transit system decide to hold a manifestation.

Thanks Septa. Thanks for having a terrible public transit system to begin with (why do the subway lines run nowhere and all the trolleys and buses run along Market Street? why must I pay extra money to transfer? why does it take me longer to walk to/from the subway than to actually ride on the subway?). And thanks for going on strike.

The Septa people, subway/trolley/bus drivers/mechanics/whatevers had been working without a contract for a lengthy amount of time, but had refused the city's offered new contract. The city's offer was really good, but the union wanted more money. Before the strike, the union placed big ads in the newspapers explaining that they were people too, and that they needed a 14% raise over four years.

The whole city was furious at them, amazed that the union would have the gall to make those demands when there are people who would gladly take those jobs without any raise at all. I mean, get real subway drivers, don't think you can't be replaced by a robot (already invented in Japan ten years ago). A robot that wouldn't occasionally miss the subway platform and have to back up in order for the passengers to exit or enter. As I have seen more than once.

Thankfully the strike only lasted for six days, and that for those days I was able to catch a ride down to Center City with Bret. And that it was not during the Canadian winter. Unlike the manifestation in Ottawa.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Art Installation

The newly-revealed 1940's linoleum on the wall of the dining room has provided everyone at Chez Headley, and our varied guests, with great enjoyment. Since the linoleum will eventually be torn down, we decided to use it as a large, green canvas for our Sharpies.

The Headleys. Drawn to scale.

Fragmentary astronaut, turtle, and a dream of bacon and eggs.

Lena reacting to the Turtle, man with weights, martini glass, and large dark blob.

Rough map of the US (note how large Pennsylvania is), coffee cup, Bret's graffiti tag, assorted flowers, and some dude's head.

Fraktur nonsense, Bret's tag again, and 80's band graffiti.

You should come visit. There is still more wall-canvas available.


A few weeks ago, before my classmate Cindy and her boyfriend arrived to spend a Philly Weekend, those at Chez Headley decided that we just couldn't stand the huge, white, nasty wainscoting in the dining room a moment longer! So we tore it off! (photos by Emily)

I display the prize we found trapped between the maybe 1940's faux green tile linoleum and the wainscoting: one Uno card. Sweet.

Then Bret tore some of the wall down, while I tore the rest of the wainscoting off. So now the dining room is larger, but uglier.

Larger, because the people who lived in Chez Headley prior to us were crazy. The wainscoting was normal wainscoting attached to two-by-fours that had been nailed into the wall. The gaps between the boards, behind the wainscoting, were filled with large chunks of foam. Like foam that electronics would be packaged with. So removing it actually made the room much more spacious.

Monday, November 2, 2009

UD Homecoming

Saturday was not only Halloween, it was the University of Delaware 2009 Homecoming. This was the first time I have returned for the celebrations, which is kind of highly appropriate now that I've graduated from UD yet again.

In all actuality, the real reason I returned for homecoming this year was to meet up with my old friends from the UDMB colorguard to laugh and have a good time and to spin with the alumni band. Lots of UDCG alumni came to spin, as we all, in a way, came for Donnie. Pictured below is actually the current band.

As in everything related to the UDMB, it started ridiculously early with rehersal in Delaware at 8:30. Afterwards we were free to frolick in the rain and tailgate with all the normal people. Alissa mixed a special cocktail in celebration of everyone coming: the Malibu Barbie. Yes, that Malibu Barbie.

It was like reliving things. We did the exact same things the band always does, but you could wear blue jeans instead of a crazy unitard and a fake ponytail, or whatever else Donnie would have dreamed up.

We even had to do that thing where we play the fight song and march beneath the stands. The whole time I kept asking everyone, "Seriously? Are we seriously going to do this? Just like we used to? Seriously?"

We had excellent seats. For band-watching, that is.

I take my camera on the field! The alumni bands performs two songs at stand-still during half-time. Remarkably, lots of people stayed for this performance.

Typically this sort of thing is a train-wreck, as you learn the work only a few hours before you have to perform it. But, surprisingly, we were pretty good (better than the actual guard, but give me a call if you want to hear about that). I stole this picture from somebody else: our flags are all crazy-patterns, but they're all together.

Some things never change. Sarver, the band director, came up to us afterwards for a good-job (you did better than the current actual guard did today), UDMB is family, Donnie would be so proud talk.

Everyone on the field after the game, those who didn't spin as well, singing 'In My Life'. The band always sings this at the end of each home football game.

We all have soggy shoes. Should have brought the wellies.

The whole alumni guard, post-performance.