Tintype Field Trip

Remember when you were a kid in school and went on field trips? Weren’t they exciting? As an adult I have perfected the art of the field trip.

Enter Laura Burlton and Houston Tintype Studio.

Who is Laura Burlton? A very talented photographer here in the Houston area. She does all of your basic types of photography. However she also has developed crazy mad skills when it comes to Tintype Photography.

What you may ask is Tintype Photography? Think about all of the photos that were taken during the mid to late 1800’s. (Yes, including the Civil War.) A Google search told me that the photograph is made by “…creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated.….dark lacquer or enamel.….photographic emulsion.….”. Better yet, here are some examples of work by Laura Burlton.

For those of us who are not technologically inclined, this is a fun way to have your picture taken.

These are not your run‐of‐the‐mill digital photos. These are not selfies. The pictures are taken one at a time. With a camera. Not taken with a phone. There is skill and artistry involved in these pictures. To have my picture taken, I sat on a stool in front of the camera. I posed. Laura Burlton put a metal plate into the camera. There was a bright flash of light and a mild puff of warm air. Then Laura took the plate into her darkroom and re‐emerged with one photo.

The trickiest part of this whole process had nothing to do with the artist or the photography process. It had do to with me. For many years I have hated to have my picture taken. I have never liked any picture ever taken of me. Yet, I have recently undergone gastric sleeve surgery and have lost a bunch of weight. What the heck do I look like? Other people see a difference, but I don’t always feel any different. Pictures are good for comparisons.

Here is my favorite picture. Why yes, I am wearing a Bowler hat. Why? Does anyone need to give a serious answer when wearing a Bowler hat? Obviously, I am still exploring this surrealistic phase of life that I have entered. It’s fun. I really don’t understand why more people don’t wear Bowler hats. I’m pretty sure it would help lead to world peace if more people would just wear Bowler hats. What do you think?

I like the fact that these are black and white photos. Black and white photos are developed in a dark room. This involves time and patience. A dramatic play between light and dark and shadows that cannot be found in color digital pictures.

Here is another fun picture from the Tuesday field trip. I think this one makes me look mysterious. This is the one I should bring out at Halloween and use to scare small children. Boo! I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would mess with this woman. Yes, I am still wearing the Bowler hat; however, I could throw this hat at you and it just might hurt you. Who knows? As always, I am really looking forward to Halloween. Here in Houston my favorite holiday is just one hurricane season away.

Many thanks to Laura Burlton and Houston Tintype Studio for allowing me to have such a fun time Tuesday morning. Here is Laura talking to me from her dark room. This was towards the end of our session when all of the magic of the darkroom was finished. I can highly recommend this experience and will definitely go back myself for more fun and frolic.

Until next week.….

Surrealism and the Bowler Hat

I read with great interest Melanie’s most recent blog post about hypnagogia. In case you need a brief refresher hypnagogia refers to the state between wakefulness and sleep. It is a state where people attempt to grasp creative ideas that percolate up from the subconscious and unconscious. Melanie mentioned she keeps a journal by her bed to capture those early morning creative glimmerings.

I also have a journal by my bed. I use it to capture dreams. Is there a hard and fast difference between dreams, creative glimmers, free thoughts? Maybe or maybe not. All can be included as fodder for writing prompts, ideas for painting or collage works, etc. However, reading about this type of free form writing reminds me of Surrealism in both art and writing.

Surrealism refers to the avant‐garde movement in art and literature which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind. Often you will see surrealist art that juxtaposes images that you would not otherwise think of going together.

Miro’and Dali are some of the more popular surrealist artists. Of course there were women surrealists that never receive as much attention as the male artists. Many people consider Frida Kahlo to have been a surrealist painter. Gertrude Abercrombie was a painter who specialized in working with moons, cats and mysterious women. What’s not to love about pictures of moons, cats and mysterious women?

I must admit one of my all time favorite surrealist artists is Rene Magritte. This gentleman painted a lot of pictures of men in bowler hats. Sometimes he painted pictures of men in bowler hats without faces. Other times there are faces of men wearing bowler hats, but the face is hidden behind an apple or a dove. He also painted groups of men in bowler hats wearing black overcoats floating in air. Are they floating up or down? That’s open to interpretation.

I have recently become fascinated by the use of bowler hats in art and literature. Traditionally a man in a bowler hat is a version of the “every hat” worn by the “every man”. Informal. Practical. Combine the bowler hat with a skeleton and you have a bit of surrealist photography.

What about women who wear bowler hats. Think of Liza Minnelli in the movie Cabaret. What good is sitting alone in your room when you can come hear the music play?

Bowler hats are not traditional headgear for the “every woman”. When a woman wears a bowler hat, is she picking up on a surrealist life style? Looking for meaning in the unconscious? Gleaming insight and inspiration from the area between waking and sleeping? Can you find writing prompts inside a bowler? A male character in a mystery novel who wears a bowler hat is a hidebound traditionalist. Yet, a woman in the same novel wearing a bowler hat is a bit quirky and unusual.

Can you find inspiration and creativity just by wearing a bowler hat? Sounds good to me!

Until next week.….…