My last post was bitter snowy winter…guess I’ve been busy. Now we’ve had a wonderful spring for quite a while. Lot’s of blossom and sunshine! I am terribly late with planting this year but plan to catch up soon. Spent a day re-building my veg-patch frames. I’ve added a huge one and I’m planning to add more. The less lawn to cut the better…plus more veg for the vegan daughter. As always the chicks are such great company. We take our lunch breaks on the stairs and they first start with cleaning their feathers then stretch out basking in the sunlight. I’m having conversations with Maggie, our oldest hen, noticed recently that everytime I say something to her she replies with a purring noise so I’m keeping it up. Also trying to make Oggy the cat to say hello(“Cats who say hello” on Youtube..) but we’ve been at it for at least five years or so and he’s not making much progress..
This year I’m mainly planting spinach, spuds, flowers, zucchini and herbs but added a few things recently. Someone tipped me off about the Sponge-cucumber so I had to order a bag and strangely 15 more seed bags made their way into the order basket.
I have also maximised the time outside doing photography in the sun. I have so many old photography papers that would not be of good use in the darkroom so I’ve used them for Lumen photograms instead and today I made wet cyanotypes with spring flowers. If you would like to know more about the techniques please check out alternative photography.com.
I was invited to the local Island heritage centre to join in an arts/crafts market. Luckily only down the road so it was enough to pack my bicycle trolley with pictures. I decided this time to not get stressed before hand and only show what pictures I already had(partly because it’s summer and also it was my birthday) but of course couldn’t help myself to make some new wet plates and cyanotypes. There were about ten other art&crafts people selling everything from paintings to woven carpets, but I actually didn’t have time to take pictures or have a better look at their things because of a steady stream of visitors.
Everyone hade a table to put their things on, me selling photographs it gave me something to think about. I ended up cutting some wood into pieces, getting inspiration from a menu on a wooden stand at a restaurant a few days before, to stand my plates on. It worked really well! I especially liked the one for the Ambrotype where I made two scores in the wood and put a black plate behind the glass plate. A very nice day, looking forward to next year!
“Man tager vad man haver”, which means You use whatever you have. The expression comes from Kajsa Warg who wrote cookery books and also author of “Guide to Housekeeping for Young Women” published in 1755. It’s an expression I like to use a lot and I also use as an excuse for my hoarding, saving whatever and whatnot just in case it might be useful one day… My big wooden camera that I use for wet plates is falling apart and so are the holders. Sick and tired of having so many plates ruined by light leaks I’ve decided to let it retire. Until I can afford to buy another one I’ll have to make do with the smaller format and fished my Sinar 4×5 out of the closet. Oh, it was such a joy to work with! Not having to pull and tug the holders and worry about the bellow or lens falling off. Now only problem was that I didn’t have any plates the right size. I decided to sacrifice some old picture frames and used the glass to cut glass plates the right size. Glass cutting is not one of my finer skills I must admit but at least I managed to cut about 15 pieces, raggedy and sharp, but usable. I was planning to use the negatives for printing and toning but released that I was out of fixer so I chose Cyanotype instead. Cyanotype is also great because it can be exposed in the sun which means hanging with the chicks at the same time!
really cool to watch the wet plate negative turn positive in the sun as the cyanotype coating darkens underneath!
Got up early this morning to make the exposure that I’ve been thinking about for the last week. Not the first time, I’ve taken the same picture many times but keep coming back to it. The old apple tree and the red tulips that go black on the wet plates are irresistible. There is usually no wind in the morning, later it picks up. With an exposure of a couple of seconds it’s best with the tulips not moving in the wind. Only made two plates and ran out of developer. As I mixed fresh developer I thought I’d might as well make some cyanotype chemistry at the same time. Can’t hand it over before testing it though so I took a little break for cyanotypes and hung them in the pear tree to dry. Now I’ve done my last plates for the day, very happy with one plate and a few ok ones. Usually I get bored very easily with the same subject but for this one I want perfection, which for me means the perfect imperfections. Tomorrow they say it will rain and the tulips are on their last legs so I’ll try again next spring. As usual the hens were very curious and Oggy the cat came to keep me company. I’ve trusted Oggy, last time we had chickens he was even in the henhouse with them but yesterday I caught him tensing up ready to jump them. I quickly chucked some water at him, haven’t seen him run that fast since he was a little kitten! Otilia and Bugget brought all the chickens out to eat grass but only for a short while, they choose to stay in the safer hen yard most of the time. I’ve widened the ladder to the hatch so now they can find their way back inside easily. A nice distraction fuzzing with the chicks while waiting for my wet plates to dry.
The paper promised 18°c and sunshine today and it was too good to be true. A very bright day but cold wind so now I find myself on the sofa warming up under a tonne of blankets after many hours outdoors. Successful and pleasant day though, I love giving workshops. You always learn new things yourself, today I learnt lots of Stockholm photography words which are apparently completely different from Gothenburg lingo. My Stockholm student had in his daze(having to leave for Gothenburg at 4am in the morning) left his negatives at a McDonalds in another town so we had to use whatever was nearby like feathers, plants and fabric. I had a short lunch break for newly baked sourdough bread, raspberry and pomme granat marmalade and cheddar cheese. My workshop participants where too busy to take a break. I know the feeling, when you are on a roll you don’t feel hunger. They made plenty of prints and were very happy and surprised how easy Cyanotype is. I’m going to make up a big batch next week and do some more myself!
It did do the trick! For once I’ve been very methodic and done lots of tests for light leaks etc before actually exposing, turns out it was worth it. I’ve been so busy building that I haven’t had time for photography but now it’s like a floodgate has opened. Made a few wet plates and developed some film and today I’ve spent all morning in the darkroom printing copies of all those rolls of film I went through autumn and Christmas. I’m doing straight black&white prints but some of them are destined to be lith printed, that will be tomorrow. Maybe I’ll do some cyanotypes to. Why are there only so few hours in a day?
Thought I would get most of the bottom frame for the floor done this weekend but turns out I bought the wrong fastening thingies at the wood shop. Chose the biggest ones thinking the bigger the better and sturdier but realised they were for wider boards and of no use for me. Anywho I got lots of other things done. My neighbour lent me a carjack to lift part of the old floor that I’m leaving as it is. I didn’t dare to lift it up all the way to make it completely straight, the barn was creaking and I’m afraid it will do more damaged than good. Now it’s not sloping as much though and I could get the old beam out from underneath that it was resting on. Put a big rock and some wood under instead, big improvement. Then I cut all the pieces to the garden fence that I’m building, to stop the chickens from escaping ten times a day. Oiled them and left the end bits in oil over night. My cousin lend me his electric saw so that was a piece of cake. Well it actually took me a while to figure out that the saw was cutting about half a centimeter off of what I had measured. Instead of measuring every time I used the previous piece as a template so they were getting shorter and shorter… Never mind, it’s a great learning process. In between I did some Cyanotype printing in the sunshine. The only good thing about long dark Swedish winters is that you appreciate the sun coming back even more! The chickens are also loving the sunshine and kept me company. My husband kept busy baking all day so I had freshly baked sourdough bread with strong smelly Danish cheese and Nam prik pao for lunch, yummy!