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Contrastique Meets Silvercreek!

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This carefully hidden project finally saw the light of day and now the light of my blog🙂

21st of June
I received a call. I hardly ever pick up my phone so I had to return the call. Menno picked up when I did, marketing manager at the B32 group. He said he saw my website and was excited about the collodion imagery. He asked me to have a cup of coffee with him as he wanted to talk about an interesting proposal he had in mind. The 27th of that month we sat down in a bar in Maastricht and he began to tell the story of Silvercreek, a clothing brand under the flag of Open32 / Blue32, with 65 shops in the Netherlands.

They are in the process of putting Silvercreek into the market as a stand-alone brand, like Levi’s and G-Star for example, with their dedicated stores. Silvercreek used to be a small mining town in America, now used by artisans who gave it new life after the mines closed.  Inspired by this, Silvercreek thought it would be a great idea bring back craftsmanship and let ‘New Artisans’ tell their story.

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So the first season they approached a furniture maker with whom they worked together. The second season they worked together with Evelien van Zonneveld from Werfzeep, who they visually followed in her process of soap-making, wearing clothes by Silvercreek. They also worked together with Frank Abbenhuis from Witloft, who they also followed in his process of apron-making.

In short “New Artisans” are asked to tell their story in front of the camera while wearing Silvercreak clothing. But also to create something in collaboration with Silvercreek. Evelien designed a special soap together with Silvercreek to be sold in their stores. Frank designed a special apron for them.

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Back to the coffee… “So…,Menno continued his story, this brings us to the point why I am here. Would you be interested in being our next “New Artisan” for the FallWinter collection of 2016?”

Wow… I remembered him asking if I wanted to sleep a night over it before answering. No need for that, I replied. Of course I want to do this! He had a thing for black-and-white photography and the craftsmanship involved in making the wet plate collodion imagery. The mood in the collodion images fitted their look-book perfectly so I immediately felt a click with their approach. The only thing was that they were in a bit of a hurry as the new collection would hit stores in September. If I were able to plan a date soon where he would get the entire team together to shoot the event… The rest is history😉

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14th of July
9 0’clock in the morning, the bell rang. The make-up artist, Judith Pronk, arrived. It took the rest about half an hour more to gather. The rest of the team was made up by: Renee Ferron (stylist), Gijs Spierings (photographer), Sherman Emers (videographer) and of course Menno himself. At first hair & make-up, then clothing. I will let the images speak for themselves, but it was a great day. Lots of laughing, laughing until the tears rolled down my cheeks. Let’s say Judith had some work that day😉 We shot images while me playing around with some of my cameras, some posed, some not so much. But the most cool part was that I was going to shoot a wet plate, and that they could follow the entire process of making them.

Explaining the process from start to finish took up a lot of time, including cleaning and everything. We first decided to do a portrait of me, the camera handled by Erik (focusing and exposing), while the chemistry and handling of the plate remained with me. We then planned to do a shot of the new jeans in their collection to make the circle round but time simply went too fast. When the clock hit 8 in the evening we all said goodbye and a truly wonderful day came to an end. To be continued.

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We all kept in touch, I received all images from the shoot (wow), and Menno and I talked about the jeans some more. We both liked the idea to do an actual proper wet plate exposure of both new jeans models, copper for men, and amber for the ladies. So, it happened. On the 24th of August Menno arrived in my studio again, to shoot the jeans. Fantastic! Fabric looks so dead-gorgeous on wet plate! Everyone was happy. The images are going to be used as the campaign shots for these jeans, which is fantastic! They will be shown in a lot of places, even in bus shelters (sorry for all the exclamation marks haha)!

On top of that shoot, he had another proposal for me; As I was now the female “New Artisan” using old photographic techniques, they figured it would be awesome to put Gijs opposite of me as the male “New Artisan” using modern photographic techniques. And that it would be cool if I were to shoot Gijs for these series. WowWowWow! Never expected that to happen! So, I had to shoot a part digitally, funny as I ended up using a Canon EOS 5ds (I don’t like working with Canon AT ALL, but it was okay ;-)) But I was also asked to shoot a wet plate of Gijs, one with one of his cars, and one portrait just like mine.

Images of my shoot:

26th of August
I took of to Veghel where we planned the shoot at the “Koekbouw”, an awesome industrial spot there. The even more cool thing about this shoot was that Gijs normally photographs cars, Mercedes for example. And I just happen to love cars so it all came together! He arranged two cars for this shoot and I would follow him while photographing these. One was a Ferrari 348TS, and the other an old Mustang from 1965, both in impeccable condition. Both awesome as hell! Once again a great day! For collodion however, it was quite hard; temperature that day was 31 degrees. Still issues with my fixing bath giving spots, as became clear after the shoot; rinsing capabilities were limited and no KCN anymore for me. So, not a perfect shoot wet plate-wise but awesome nonetheless!

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Apart from the story of Gijs and me, there were two more artisans asked for this edition: a couple working together as blacksmiths under the name of Atelier 79. They designed and produced a special coin for Silvercreek which will be in the pockets of the new male jeans when you buy one. This refers to the coin in mine-workers’ jeans to identify the deceased. And a cool necklace for the ladies in the shape of a paroquet, which were used in the mines to warn for gas leaks. Great people to have met and I’m looking forward seeing their atelier in person!

Images of Gijs, shot by me and edited by Gijs, the man himself

12th of September
The big national presentation of the FallWinter Collection 2016🙂 Everyone, every employee in their stores, all who helped, all who modeled, got invited to join the presentation party which was held at the Koekbouw in Veghel. Of course we went too, and it was fantastic beyond words. Menno told me a little of what was going to happen but he kept the best part silent. We got there at around 7 in the evening. Got something to eat and drink, and watched all people walk in Silvercreek clothing, which was a pretty surreal sight on its own.

The jeans on wet plate collodion, 8×10″:

An official opening speech, live music, and a place where all new collections of all brands they represent at Open32, were shown. At a little over 10 we got to the special event that was announced earlier on that evening. It’s where they were to introduce their new jeans line in a spectacular kind of way. We were invited by Menno for a little sneak-preview before that moment. Luckily. Because what I saw when we entered that space…it was quite moving. This space is huge, about 100 metres in length, and impressive on its own. It was the same space we used for the shoot a few weeks back. To dress it up properly is quite the challenge. They succeeded. Big time. The space was entirely empty except for 4 HUGE drapes hanging from the ceiling behind each other in the middle of the space. Each drape spanned 5 by 3 metres… and contained my wet plate images! The first was the portrait of myself, the second the amber version of the jeans, the third the portrait of Gijs and the fourth the copper version of the jeans. I was stunned and overwhelmed. I never expected anything like this.

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After that private sneak-preview everyone was invited into the hall, and the jeans were presented in a different coolish manner-style. Menno bought an SRV-wagon about a year ago and completely revitalised it, turning it into an actual driving Silvercreek selling point, which contained all the new jeans. Everybody received a special coin upon arriving that evening and with that coin, it became clear that it was to be used as a voucher for a free pair of new jeans for everyone! Cool huh! Everybody jumped the wagon of course😉

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The evening ended with some lovely dancing on beats and strings from the band. And with that this story also comes to an end. For now that is. This story is anything but over so….to be continued🙂

Above images of the presentation courtesy of Erik Slangen.

Check this link over here —> sc-fw-2016-magazine-3108_lres_spreads for the original pdf of the new Silvercreek Magazine and knock yourself out!

Credits: All images where I am on, unless stated otherwise, copyright by Gijs Spierings Photography.

 

 

 

 

My Private Little Forest

I love forests, trees, wood and what-else-is-there-not-to-like-about-these-matters. We had some trees cut up in our garden past year and we kept the lumber, for burning it later on. But these branches looked so great I took them into my studio. They’re part of a lumber-studies, not sure in what form or series these will fit but I just love them. It’s great to be shooting plates again, especially when they work out so nicely, at least to me!

The only thing I am having issues with is the varnishing. Except for a plate or two being ‘eaten’ by the varnish, I never had any problems with it. And that issue is easily fixable by adding a bit of water.

Now I had issues with the varnish not running over the plates properly, resulting in awkward nasty ridges and parts not covered in one pour. I figured it might be because of too little alcohol so added some more. Eventually it seemed to pour better but the plates dried unevenly. With that I mean streaks turned out matte and others glossy, random, not showing hints as to why. With these last plates I cut back on heating of the varnish and plate which seemed to help quite a bit so for now I’m satisfied. Though not completely as it’s still not perfect and that just puzzles me. In the process of ordering a fresh batch of alcohol and spike oil so that I can make a new batch, even tough this one is actually pretty new. TBC.

All images shown are Wet Plate Collodion Black Glass Ambrotypes, either 8×10″ or 10×10″.

 

So Fresh and so Clean Clean – Part 2

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So…After the first experiment with polish-machine-style-plate-cleaning there’s always a second, with improvements of course. The first thing I wanted to solve was moving of the plate during polishing. This machine has a disc that rotates at 3200 times per minute = 53,33 times per second… Try that by hand 😆 This puts forth some power on the plate which makes it a little nervous on a flat surface. I already tried solving it by putting some gaffer tape on the table but that was not enough.

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Now I decided to put some small boards on two sides of the table, pointing towards the corners thus each other, and letting them stick a little over the surface of the table so that a glass plate could be positioned alongside them. That way I could push the plate towards the corner without having it fall off. It worked a whole lot better but still the plate had the tendency to hoover a little over the table’s surface. Than Erik came along and made me a square wooden board on which he put a glass plate. He then put 4 long cocktail sticks along the plate sides and fixed them to the board with gaffer tape. That way the plate was sort of clamped in between the sticks and I could easily polish. I placed that board design along the smaller boards I earlier screwed into the sides of the table so it stayed put on the table and…Tadaaa, problem solved!

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I then put the table in the middle of the darkroom and the second problem of spattering the cleaning substance all over the place also got solved. What a glorious evening :-) I was able to incredibly lazily clean the plates for a commissioned portrait shoot this Wednesday, awesome!

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So Fresh and so Clean Clean – Glass Cleaning Lazy Style!

I love wet plate. In fact, I love everything about wet plate! Except for…cleaning the plates🙂 So, it might be a bad habit but I look for shortcuts, no concession in outcome of course. I use a dishwasher for the first cleaning cycle. And then you still always have to scrub by hand using the chalk cleaner. Polishing and polishing, overheating etc. You know. That stuff. So, Erik said the other day; might it not be an idea to use a polishing machine for that? Hmmm….

So, I got meself a polishing machine and went for it! Interesting. It works. So, that’s good. Start is as usual; pour cleaning solution on plate:

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Put polishing machine on plate:

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Turn it on:

Right, no image there as I needed both hands to keep this thing under control🙂

And…:

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…Do a lot of cleaning afterwards! Ha, that stuff goes everywhere! In a radius of 2,5 metres all was covered in chalk mixture! Quite funny; it works, saves quite a bit of energy (if you leave out the cleaning afterwards) and it’s fun: because, well, machines just are. I will find something to fix this as I like it. I hope you did too😉

Filter Stacking Method for Sandarac Varnish

I kept postponing making new varnish for way too long until I really pushed myself to it yesterday. The really annoying part about making the varnish is filtering the solution; probably all suffer from that🙂 But Erik has found a way to do a filter stacking, proper school, so the solution gets filtered 4 times in just one pour. Tadaa!

Now, still have to get to varnishing the plates but that is the fun part! Just thought I’d share. Anyone else funny filter methods which make life easier?

Wet Plate Collodion Demo in Images

In short; it was fun!
In long; it was fun!

🙂

 

All images made by Luc Hommes.

Wet Plate Collodion Demo During MABP & Tefaf

(Sorry, Dutch text today)

Zondag 13 maart tijdens de MABP organiseren wij een extra leuke en vooral gezellige evenement, 
in het Toon Hermans Huis Maastricht 
 
Om de band met onze sympathisanten, sponsoren, vrienden en belangstellenden
te verstevigen wordt er in het nabijgelegen Toon Hermanshuis
op zondag 13 maart een ’special event’ georganiseerd. Een
cultureel samenzijn voor belangstellenden in bijzondere ambiance met
een hapje en een drankje.
 
Drie sprekers staan er op het programma die u kort iets zullen vertellen
over Maastrichtse drukken, oude fotografie en een Maastrichtse componist.
Na afloop bestaat er de mogelijkheid om onder begeleiding van een gids
de beurs te bezoeken.
U en uw partner zijn van harte uitgenodigd door de MABP organisatie
om hierbij aanwezig te zijn.
 
Programma MABP 

11:30 uur Ontvangst van de gasten

12:00 uur Presentatie ‘Maastrichtse Drukkers’

12:15 uur Demonstratie oude fotografie op glasplaat. 
Indra Moonen neemt u mee naar het jaar 1851 van de natte collodion
glasplaten; het eerste op grotere schaal commercieel inzetbare
fotografische procede.
12:45 uur Voordracht over de Maastrichtse componist Jean Lambrechts
Bij voldoende belangstelling worden er hierna rondleidingen over de
antiquarenbeurs gehouden om nader kennis te maken met de beurs en
de standhouders. De beurs highlights zullen door de gids nader worden
toegelicht.
Verder is er ook de mogelijkheid om een kijkje te nemen in het gezellige Toon Hermans Huis
 
Graag reserveren vóór 11 maart: franz.rothenburg@me.com

Leap into the Etsy World

Seeing that I have quite a load of digital images, merely residing on my hard drives, I thought it would be good to give them back some meaning. Meaning and perhaps a new way to pay for my real love: analogue photography🙂

In the future I might extend this beyond prints from digital files but for now this is it..

Take a look if you want!

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First Collodion Shoot in 1,5 Years; Oh Yeah Baby :-)

Wwwooooooeeeehhhhooooooeeeeewwwwwww!!!!

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Anyway…long time no see🙂 I started with the chemistry last week, making fresh fix, developer, collodion and checking the silver bath, which looked and tested really well! It had a proper cleaning, with boiling-down half way and all, before I packed it up for moving, but still, quite the surprise. Last Monday, my regular day off, I decided to continue but it was a busy day with a meeting scheduled and had some prepping to do for that so didn’t get much work done in the darkroom. Feeling a bit anxious about that I thought I would give it a shot asking the day off on Tuesday, which I was able to do….so Tuesday was Theday.

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Erik grabbed the change to film everything but we will redo this as I was too much occupied with looking for all my stuff, trying to find back that routine in a new place. I spent about half the time looking for things🙂 I was too excited to give the plates the proper cleaning they should have had and it clearly shows, as expected. But, it works! The first pour was indescribable; don’t want to sound like a sentimental old fart (the smelly one), but wow, it felt great! The smile on my face….loved it!

Plate before curling

Plate before curling

Well, the obvious curled one

Well, the obvious curled one, but cool nonetheless🙂

Well, what else can I say? There’s some work to do to get it all ‘perfect’ again, better cleaning, more ether to the collodion as it was relatively cold in the darkroom and it didn’t flow nicely, creating a striped pattern. The smallest first test plate (see plate above) was so scratched and polluted that the layer of collodion curled off while drying, making it look pretty fascinating. Also, I want to re-read Osterman’s manual again, just because it has been awhile and it’s never a bad thing. And of course, making a batch of varnish and do the final very-good-smelling step🙂

The following images are the ones I like best. The last one is an image Erik made of me. He composed the images, lighting and everything and I did the chemistry part. The digital overview images are mostly Erik’s.

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Hope to see you soon again!

Darkroom No. 6 – the Final

  
After having thoroughly enjoyed a trip to Portugal it was time to take that final step in finishing the darkroom; hooking up the wet table.  

Erik, not experienced in plumbing, was looking up to the job because he felt a little insecure. Due to this darkroom being housed on a squat-basis there are quite a few limitations on how to attach the table to existing water hoses. And a boiler had to be built in as there is no warm water in that space. So, all the more challenging. 

He made a life-size drawing on how the piping needed to be done with the exact measurements and then we started building. The drawing made it so clear that even I could understand it perfectly. Everything was built using compression fittings so if ever, for whatever reason, this thing has to be disarmed and put back again, it’s easily possible. Comforting thought🙂

Tonight I shall be showing Erik the reward of all this hard work; learning him to develop film! Yes, another soul to dive back into Analogue! I normally do not look forward to developing film (after 10+ years it does get a little boring :-)) but this time it’s different. This time I can’t wait!

And there will be plenty of film sooooo lucky us!