Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Carte de Visite

Lately I've been taking an interest in 19th century photographer, particularly Stereographs and Carte de Visite.

Both were very popular in 19th century and early 20th century households, CDV typically in albums and Stereoviews with various types of viewers.

These have in common that they were typically photographs on lightweight paper glued to a stiffening piece of cardboard for durability. Often a CDV consists of one half of a stereo pair.

CDV are about 2.5" by 4.5" (about 6 x 10 cm), which puts them in the range of European playing cards of some of the regional patterns.

Aside from portraits, such I show here, there were also illustrative series of various types, and one can easily imagine how their popularity led directly into the tobacco cards, which led ultimately to the sports trading cards of today.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Some of these buttons are from pictures I took in or around Bremerhaven and Helmstedt, during the two years I spent those places.

Some are from images found on the Internet (and thus could not be sold, if I was selling).

The one of me on the outskirts of Helmstedt was taken in 1971 by good friend Mike Matson. The distant view of the train in a valley was taken last summer by good friend Vera Voigt.

The car is a Fiat 850 Sport Coupè. I bought a dark blue one in Bremerhaven in 1970, and brought it back to Seattle and continued to enjoy it for several years. I wish I could have one again -- in better condition than mine was when Eric Jordan took it on.

The winged railroad wheels ("Flügelräder") are interpretations of a traditional Middle European railway symbol found in countless variations.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I used to covet the button machines advertised in the back of magazines. Way too expensive or very doubtful of function.

Somehow a few weeks ago things came together, and I bought a cheap toy button maker at a craft store, as proof-of-concept for whether it would be worth investing more.

I enjoyed making the buttons.

The quality was not good.

Further research determined that there was an intermediate cost option that was less suitable for large production runs, but could turn out a nice button.

I don't have any reason to want to turn out a thousand buttons a day. Five or ten buttons at a time is my speed.

Mostly I want to play with old pictures, new pictures, odd phrases.

Today I made a button that says "Dégringoladier."

Tomorrow I may make one that says "Catalpa Gravitas."

Or perhaps "Allotropy."