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Digital Ironing

It was very exciting when a client hired me to digitize a large part of her collection of her late mother’s fashion illustrations.

Fashion illustration was the main form of advertisement for fashion designers, clothing manufacturing companies and department stores. The designs were not only displaying the styles of their day but also a certain lifestyle.

The collection I worked with consists of fashion illustrations from the mid 1930s, fashion sketches on full double-sided magazine style spreads from the 1940s and 1950s, and lots and lots of smaller ‘practice’ works. Women’s faces and figures, hairstyles, hands, gloves, shoes, house dresses, evening gowns, aprons, underwear, handbags, beach scenes, scenes with children and babies, neatly sketched bottles advertising the benefits of face lotion and powder, ladies’ fashion patterns, advertising for ‘floral seer sucker frocks’ and ‘toddler straw bonnets’. Full page drawings enticing the women of the time to buy dresses in ‘linens, to take you through the summer in cool, crisp perfection’ and beautiful evening gowns which were ’emblazoned with the royal signature to put you in the mood for the festivities of coronation year’.

Did I mention I love my job? I spent many happy hours photographing the vast array of sheets of lose papers of all kinds with overall very little damage. Mostly, the sheets have yellowed with age and there’s always the odd specks and stains. And odd paper sizes. The most damage consisted of creases and folds and bent pages.

My brief was to digitize, not only for safekeeping and convenience of sharing the images with family abroad, but also to enable the client to use some of her late mother’s works to create anything from wallpaper to pillow covers to greeting cards.

For privacy reasons I cannot show you too much of this collection, but I have put together some links for you to have a peek at. They should give you a great idea of the beauty I had before my eyes that day 🙂

Fashion illustration from the 1930s, the 1940s and the 1950s.

As I mentioned the most damage was creases and bent pages. I show you a few examples of what I mean:

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I call it digital ironing. It may seem like a quick fix and move on, but it’s not. And being me, there’s a lot of fine tuning and coming back to the same work several times because I may have overlooked something. And there’s always the danger to ‘overdo it’ in Photoshop, especially in this job, where the brief was to maintain the original character of the work, so I tried hard to get each image as close to what it would have looked like on the day it was created.

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But yes, creases = digital ironing, you get the picture 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Free Your Photos

I know, I know, I keep saying it too often. But there you go, it’s my mantra. As soon as I have more than 200 photos on my phone I get twitchy and start sorting, deleting, backing-up and printing! Don’t even talk about my computer ….

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Yes, printing. It seems to get largely forgotten these days. And seriously, I have no idea why. So when I spotted this large collage frame for very little money, it was mine. Very little money is good, of course, but it also has its downsides (my framer probably rolls around on the floor just about now, in despair).

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Let’s list the good things: the price of course, the frame itself is quite sturdy, the glass is not glass but perspex, which makes the whole thing less dangerous and lighter, and the two bevel edged mats inside the frame are cut perfectly and neatly and look pretty. And a variety of sizes for photos are available. Noice.

The not so great things: a variety of sizes for photos are available (sometimes, having too much choice is not a good thing), the hooks in the back are hm a bit flimsy maybe, time will tell, there is only one piece of backing, which means the whole thing will warp, the photos will warp, even the little ones. And with so many photos, it will be a fiddly job to get them perfectly straight and have nothing sliding around.

But alas, this frame was meant to be a decoration item to display some of my photography in the rumpus/guest room/games room/waiting room just outside my studio, and as I intent to change photos regularly, it would do for now.

It took me quite a while to select photos that somehow work together and work nicely with the colour scheme of the room.

Once I had them printed I took my time to position them, stick them down with photo friendly glue and sticky tape. I inserted a second large piece of backing to really fill the back and make the whole thing tighter and prevent warping. And voila.

As I’m always trying to support small business, and handmade as such, and Mum’s in business especially, two pillow covers are from TWIG, and the mobile is from CocoCooie.

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Now this waiting area for siblings or parents while I’m busy doing a shoot in the adjacent room is very comfortable indeed  🙂

 

 


Melting Crayons

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Yes, it seems they are everywhere, certainly Pinterest is brimming with photos of great and successfully created Melted Crayon Art.

The madeit blog kindly did a ‘how to’, in their first of hopefully many more monthly DIY project how to’s. I had been mulling this melting crayon idea around in my head for some time, had wanted to tackle it in the school holidays, but alas ….

On an otherwise rather middle range exciting Wednesday I could have done the accounting and some cleaning and tidying but the ‘Crayation’ beckoned.

Since the kids are no more little there are no more bits of crayons in the house. I got two packs at the last grocery dash. And I already had a canvas, an oblong shape which I’ve had for ages with no real idea what to do with it. Now it time had come.

As a photographer, I like negative space, my cropping is usually such that the subject is not in the middle, but rather off center and even to the very sides of the image. It’s a thing.

And on Pinterest I spotted a few melted crayon images using negative space as well, negative space as in shapes and outlines of names etc. As the oblong shape of the canvas kind of lend itself to something longish I attempted a dolphin.

The blog also had pointed out that chasing bits of half melted crayon on kitchen bench and floor was an undesirable side-effect once the hair dryer is getting its work-out. Duly noted, which is why I decided to not break my crayons into pieces but somehow stick them on the canvas. Good old blue tac helped with that. Before that, I drew a rough outline of a dolphin with pencil on the canvas, and peeled the paper off the crayons. THAT was a really annoying and time consuming part … almost went back to accounting …. almost.

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In sections, I went around the canvas, sticking complimenting colours of crayons on and, with the hair dryer on low, started melting the crayons. Generally, it worked really well, however, eventually the crayons just melt too much – and yes, blue tac melts, too – so the angle of the hairdryer did matter a lot. Regardless, many times bits of breaking off melting crayon just flew across the canvas.

You can see the trails of these runaway pieces in the picture.

After I finished the whole outline of the dolphin, I used some crayons to put some extra drips and swirls into the paintwork. Crayons melt really quickly, and dry really quickly, too, so one has to be reasonably fast.

I took a few photos before, but got totally absorbed during the process, and quite dirty, and my camera and dirty fingers are a no no. Plus I was literally running out of time, as this dolphin took me a good 2 hours to finish …. dinner and sports drives were waiting.

Whilst I love the pools of melted colour, really cool actually, I would not recommend doing this activity with children. I burnt my fingers quite a bit and still have crayon blue under my fingernails today. And if you’re not careful and are holding the hairdryer too sideways or too low the hot wax does splatter everywhere.

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But I’m quite pleased with this attempt and the dolphin now keeps me company in the office and makes me smile while I do some bookkeeping.

 

 


madeit in Australia

madeit.com.au is an e-commerce site dedicated to showcase handmade items created by crafty people who physically reside in Australia. It doesn’t matter whether sellers do create for a living or as a hobby, as long as it’s their creation, it can be listed in their store on the madeit website.

As the world is big and I’m not quite ready to expose myself to it, I liked this idea and so az pictured set up a store about a year ago.

I was still doing some markets in 2015 and spending a lot of energy to get my stall stocked and a lot of time being present on said markets. Unfortunately, I think, apart from a few very successful upmarket designer-type markets, the down the road once-a-month small to middle-size market is pretty much dead, a lament repeated by countless other market stall holders I became friends with. Market insurance and market stall fees keep going up, customers continue to be happy spending money on food and anything to do with the kids, but by large, they hold their purses tight. And if they shop they expect to be able to use their credit card, pay wave, chip and what not … all of which is not that easy and uncomplicated and seldom free and mostly not feasible for small businesses.

Anyway. Since I was still focusing on markets I didn’t put too much effort into my store on madeit and – no surprise – had a bit of a slow start.

Towards the end of last year I stepped it up, and madeit itself has undergone some changes and began the new year with some well thought-through and exciting changes, with a new look newsletter, improved blog and quality presence on social media platforms. All makes sense and looks awesome and it’s so exciting to be a part of it.

And to top the excitement, January has brought me a couple of features in the shopping guides and a stint as a guest pick-editor plus a few sales … insert happy little dance emoticon.

Following madeit more closely has also exposed me to the craft and creativity of other sellers and their fabulous products. A few birthdays are already sorted 🙂

If you like to support handmade in Australia, check out madeit.com.au  🙂

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Love Pulses

Since 1960, the United Nations promote international awareness and action on certain issues by creating special observances designated to days, weeks, years or decades. Scrolling down the list, one can find such wide ranging topics as Human Rights, Co-Operation, Anti-Apartheid, Volunteers, Thanksgiving, Microcredit, Physics, Freshwater, Rapprochement of Cultures, Natural Fibers, Family Farming, Crystallography, the Potato and many more.

While 2015 brought us the Year of Light and Light-based Technologies as well as the Year of Soils, 2016 is the Year of the Pulses. I confess, I didn’t see it coming. I should have remembered an interview I saw years ago, where Matt Preston, the well-known, mostly colourfully suited and tied food critic and judge on Masterchef, was raving about ancient grains and announced Quinoa as the true trend for the upcoming (then 2012) year, and sure enough, we got the International Year of Quinoa in 2013.

Maybe I should have paid attention to the recipes in magazines over winter, and the ‘super home-cooking ideas’ from a certain supermarket, because, looking back, there were a lot of peas and lentils and the like. Hm. Well, we know now why.

Funny enough when I googled ideas for images for the Year of the Pulses towards the end of last year, I found quite the confusion, as many times it was the Year of the Pulse, or the Year of Pulses, a funny little translation mishap possibly, which in most cases seems to have been rectified by now.

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In any case, 2016 and Pulses it is.

Stock up on your pulses, ‘get creative’ with green and yellow peas, lentils, chickpeas and eat ‘delicious, nutritious and sustainable’, as the slogan of the Global Pulse Confederation tells us. Yes, there is such a thing.

Well, I’ve started off with a little bit of creativity, we’ll see how it translates into the kitchen.

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Clean Sheet

It’s a new year. Yay. It was a lovely festive season in our house, and once the rush and bustle of the festive season was over we had a lovely evening at a friend’s place, where the new year began with laughter and chatter and sparklers and bubbly.

Now the new year is a week old. Facebook and especially Instagram feeds are still flooded with New Year resolutions of all kind, and frankly, I’m getting a bit fed up with them all.

I remember that even as a child it made not much sense to me when the adults talked at length about what they were wanting to change the following year. I’m probably to pragmatic about that. If you want to change it, just do it. Which proves why this slogan of a very famous sports brand is not only very clever but also very to the point. No more excuses. No more blabla. Just do it.

Anyways. As different religions and regional cultures celebrate new year at different times of the year, each with their own outbursts of great plans and resolutions, we are but a small drop in the ocean and are mostly taken ourselves way to serious yet again.

If anything I quite like to be reminded that January is named after Janus, the Roman god of gates, doors and beginnings, who, with his two faces was said to look both forward as well as backwards. For me, New Years is more for reflection and looking backwards than looking forward with great plans.

Forward is a clean sheet. Clean like the new calendars, which are still empty and stress free and not filled to the brim with things to do, to remember, to organise, to buy.

Here’s to a new year, with all that it may bring our way 🙂

Hello2016

 

 


Hedgehog of a Different Kind

We had the first fresh mangoes on the weekend. So I guess we’ve declared it to be SUMMER.

The mango is widely considered to be THE summer fruit in Australia. 23 Million Australians enjoy about 8 million trays of mango every year.
Last year was even a record year of 9.5 million trays but we’re already told that the national crop will be down due to troubles with flowering and a late season.

The juicy stone fruit originates in Malaya and eastern Asia, where Buddhist monks took mango plants on voyages as early as the 4th and 5th centuries BC. By the 10th century AD Persian traders had taken the fruit to the Middle East and East Africa, and on Portugese ships it made its way to India, South America, the Philippines and West Africa. The mango arrived in Australia in the 1800s and has been cultivated commercially throughout tropical and subtropical areas around the world ever since.

In fact, the mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines, and the national tree of Bangladesh, where it even gets a mention in the national anthem “The fragrance from your mango groves/Makes me wild with joy,/Ah, what a thrill.”
I read that the EU contemplated a ban on the import of Indian mangoes last year, due to them not meeting their health and hygiene regulations. Seeing that India only accounts for less than 1% of the international trade even though they are worldwide the largest producer, I suspect they might not be too worried.
Apparently all things mango are the third national obsession in India, alongside cricket and Bollywood.

In Australia mangoes are grown in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.
The mango harvest is made up of several varieties “Kensington Pride” is the most common (65%), followed by Calypso™ (20%), “R2E2” (6%), Honey Gold™ (4%) and Keitt (3%). 92% of the Australian crop are consumed in Australia, 95% as fresh fruit and the rest in the food processing sector. Only 8% are exported.

Traditionally, the first tray of mangoes is sold at the annual Brisbane Mango Auction at the Brisbane Markets in late September/early October, and all proceeds go to charity. This year’s winning bid of $30.000 was split between Diabetes Australia and Life Education Queensland.

Ah mangoes. They are best eaten fresh, and straight from the fridge. Nothing more refreshing on a hot summers day than a mango hedgehog. However, as they don’t last long (because they don’t last long, and because they DON’T last long) I have always a pack of frozen fruit in the freezer, for smoothies. Yum Yum Yum

References 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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Change the Face of Men’s Health

There is the Chevron a la Magnum, the Dali (don’t confuse it with the handle bar), the Walrus a la the guy from Myth Busters, the Painter’s Brush which is the thing Brad Pitt sprouted for a while and several others, in fact too many to remember.

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You might gather from my tone I’m not a fan of facial hair and I have put a total ban on it in our house. The husband had one before my time and tried to re-create it some years later when I was already around. He tried it briefly. Very briefly.

But as the goal of Movember is to ‘change the face of men’s health’ and raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity (which are but some of the health issues faced by men), and with a husband and two sons, I feel it is triple important to spread the word.

What still gets me the most, and I think is the most unspoken fact, is that Suicide is still the most leading cause of deaths for Australians aged between 15 and 44, with three in five being male.

So who cares that the dog is a girl and I fail as a photographer because she hates the camera no matter how much I’ve tried to train her to be the perfect dog-model, and there’s no mo’s in our house.

There are plenty of ways to participate, check out the website, there is also an option to donate $50 or more using Visa Checkout and they’ll boost your donation by $25, for free, which is pretty cool.

Fact is, men are dying too young, spread the word, people.

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Photography History: The Mexican Suitcase


Lost Opportunity

I was more a tom-boy than a girlie girl. Rather would have been an Indian or a Pirate than a Princess, rather followed tracks in the dirt and explored secret caves than playing high tea on the picnic rug with my dolls. I did have Barbies, but mine had a horse and wore pants and went on adventures rather than wearing glittery dresses and little shoes.

I could be found on the local adventure and water playgrounds, building igloos in the snow in winter and having daring toboggan rides.

I didn’t much miss the girlie playdates with endless doll-dressing and re-dressing. However, one thing I always wanted to do and never got was having ballet lessons. I remember being very jealous of friends who did, jealous of their tutus and little shoes, of all the graceful moves they learnt – I always felt clumsy and awkward next to them. I was jealous of their long hair put up in a bun. My hair never grew past shoulder length, and got progressively shorter over the years.

This little lady visiting my studio is a very girlie girl. She loves jewels and sparkly things. And she has ballet lessons. Amazing how jealousy still can sting, even after all these long years, it’s been a while since my childhood after all. And amazing how the sting still hurts but also burns with a lot of sadness and resignation over a lost opportunity.

Probably one reason why I really cherished this shoot. Let my eyes feast. Absolutely gorgeous little lady, and if polka-dots ever suit someone, they do suit her, even if it was just in a prop.

 

Olivia