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I am SO BEHIND on posting photos. I started a new job last month; my commute is twice as long as I’m used to (although largely on rural highways very light of traffic) AND I’ve been working a lot of overtime—I even came in for about 3 ½ hours on Sunday! I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually, and I’m certainly not complaining about the money, but lately it feels like I barely have time for anything else.

Anyway, on Saturday I made time for the spring sale at the Old Schoolhouse Antiques Mall in the town of Washington, thus continuing my unbroken streak—I haven’t missed one of the biannual sales (there’s another one in October) since I moved to south Louisiana. For a couple of years there in the middle they were kind of crappy, but they seem to have bounced back. I’ve gotten some of my best vintage cameras there, including my Land Cameras, and this year did not disappoint:

Polaroid SX-70

The SX-70 was the only Land Camera I didn’t have at least one type of*, and one of just three cameras still on my must-own list. (The others are a Rollei 35 and a Fuji Natura Classica. I don’t count the Arguses or Kodak Brownies I buy when I come across them, because I collect those brands specifically.) I only paid $20 for it because it has the plastic rather than metal exterior, and because it hadn’t been cleaned and restored. But the seller—who was selling refurbished ones for $100, so he clearly knows Polaroids—assured me it worked, and I figured I could afford to trust him for $20. Those old leatherette patches just have to be scraped off, and the old adhesive soaked off with denatured alcohol, then I can either buy a die-cut skin or make my own. I’ve seen tutorials where people used materials like old wallpaper swatches, or leather patches cut out of vintage purses.

Hoodoo Oils

And this is the other thing I bought there, a Japanese lacquered corner shelf. Some of the lacquer has rubbed off on the edges, but it was only $12 and I’ve always had a fondness for all the kitschy stuff the GIs brought home after WWII. Cheap as it was, most of it is still better-made and more charming than the crap Ikea sells. I think it’s meant to hang in a wall corner, it’s got a metal hook, but standing it on the dresser creates 3 shelves instead of 2. Which makes it the perfect size to hold all of my condition oils, which previously had been scattered about—some of them were actually being kept in my underwear drawer!

*I also own a 95A, the 2nd model ever made and one that covers the earliest roll-film era; a 150, which covers the classic ‘50s-‘60s era (mine is a 1963); and several late-model hardshells.
box_camera: (homosexuality is an abomination)
I hate August. I was never crazy about it in the Bay Area, but my loathing has reached new depths since moving to Louisiana. Part of that is because it's the start of hurricane season, something my family has not had good luck with in recent years: my grandparents lost their house in Rita, a couple weeks after Katrina; my parents were able to fix theirs, only to have it wrecked in Ike a few years later.

But mostly it's just the weather. Summer (which lasts roughly half the year in south Louisiana) is never pleasant, and no two ways around it, but there's something particularly nasty about August. It goes over 90 for most of the month, and it's so humid that my sunglasses steam up whenever I leave an air-conditioned interior. Or maybe it's been like that for weeks, and August is just when my tolerance starts to wear thin.

I was able to keep photographing outside until the middle of July--the last shoot I did was the Holy Rosary Institute in Lafayette the weekend before I went to California. But the lovely weather in Laguna Beach must have eroded whatever resistance I had built up, because I pretty much went into hibernation when I got home. Although next weekend is the Lomographers of Acadiana meetup; we're doing the capitol building in Baton Rouge. (I really wanted to do the Pharmacy Museum in New Orleans, but the last Saturday of August overlaps with Labor Day weekend, which is when Southern Decadence happens. It's like Gay Mardi Gras. I'm not opposed to that or anything, I just don't want to deal with the crowds. I avoid the French Quarter during actual Mardi Gras, too.)

So since I haven't been able to obsess over photography, I've briefly transferred my attentions. For a few weekends I was scouring all the antique stores in Lafayette and Breaux Bridge, looking for vintage fountain pens. Most of what I came across were Wearevers, a cheap but respectable brand that churned out millions of pens in the decades surrounding WWII. It was the Kodak Brownie of fountain pens.

But I came across a real treasure at Lagniappe, my favorite store in Breaux Bridge, an Eversharp Doric in pristine cosmetic condition--it's pre-WWII and made of celluloid, which eventually crystallizes and starts cracking, but none of that is evident in my pen.

This isn't my photo but my pen looks just like this one. For some reason green seems to have survived more than any other color Doric--or maybe Eversharp just made more of them in that color.

This isn't my photo but my pen looks just like this one. For some reason green seems to have survived more than any other color Doric--or maybe Eversharp just made more of them in that color.

I don't think the seller knew what they had, because they were charging about 1/3 of what they could have asked. That happens a surprising amount of time with antiques dealers, which just seems lazy to me. I mean I know they can't know everything about everything (to use the American Pickers' phrase), but wouldn't you spend 5 minutes Googling the thing? Sometimes this leads them to charge way too much--I once saw a Tom's Peanuts jar in the same store that had an $800 price tag, WTF--but more often it works to my advantage.

Anyway, I bought it and cleaned all the dried ink out of it. The vacuum fill won't draw ink, but I was expecting that; rubber seals eventually dry up but it's not a big deal to replace them. I have no experience working with vacuum fill pens and I'm sure not going to practice on this one, so I cruised some shops on Etsy that refurbish fountain pens, contacted a couple of the owners with good feedback, and asked if they took commissions. One guy in South Dakota who specializes in Eversharps quoted me $40, which is about what I expected to pay. Added to what I paid for the pen, it still comes to well under half of what I've seen pens in worse condition than mine go for online. I've seen pens in my condition sell for $300.

And of course I wound up buying a pen from him as well, an Eversharp Skyline (which I believe is the model that immediately followed the Doric).

I love the fantastic "dieselpunk" look this pen has. I am Team Dieselpunk, even if it is the redheaded stepchild of cyberpunk and steampunk.

I love the fantastic "dieselpunk" look this pen has. I am Team Dieselpunk, even if it is the redheaded stepchild of cyberpunk and steampunk.

Last weekend I decided to check out the secondhand bookstores in Lafayette, which I have shockingly neglected to do before this. Most of them were crappy and like 80% of their inventory was trashy romance novels, but there's one on West Congress that was really cool. They have a history and a science section, and they sell art books and cookbooks, and had a bunch of funky old books on needlepoint and embroidery from the 1970s.

I got one of those "Images of America" books about New Orleans cemeteries, and an old edition of Clarence John Laughlin's Ghosts Along the Mississippi. That's kind of essential reading for any photographer working in south Louisiana, and new copies go for about $70, so I was happy to find it used. All the revised editions have the same 100 B&W plates; what do I care who wrote the introduction? I need a copy of Richard Sexton's Vestiges of Grandeur, but that's probably too new (and too pretty) to wind up in a secondhand bookstore. Amazon has it for $30, and I wouldn't have to pay shipping with my Prime membership. That's not a bad price for a large coffee table book that contains dozens of color photographs.

Basically I'm doing research with these books, for when it finally cools down enough to go back out with a camera. I've already found a couple of places in the Laughlin book and I'm not even finished looking at it. Although I always Google first, because a lot of those houses have been restored since he photographed them (boring!), and a few of them have been demolished.
box_camera: (frida kahlo vogue cover)

Damn you, Etsy!

gaudalupe rosary

I absolutely love this rosary; growing up in a part of the country with a strong Mexican influence, I've always loved Virgen de Guadalupe iconography and Dia de los Muertos imagery. The seller customized it for me with white stone skull beads instead of blue. And the beads look red in this photo, but in actuality they're a lovely dark pink.

Shop: Artista Muerta. She does a lot of different kinds of jewelry, not all of it religious, and I want ALL of it.

irish penal rosary

This is an Irish penal rosary (Irish name: An Paidrín Beag). The original design dates to the time of the Irish penal laws (harshest under the Stuarts and Cromwell), when England tried force Ireland to accept the Anglican Church. Any form of Catholic worship--like praying the rosary--was against the law. (Protestant dissenters such as Presbyterians also ran afoul of the laws.) The single decade was easy to hide in a sleeve, and the prayer kept track of them by moving the ring from finger to finger. (A full rosary is 5 decades, each decade is 10 Hail Marys.) Often they didn't use a crucifix on the end but a subtler symbol of Jesus, like a carpenter's nail or a fish.

I love the unusual square beads, the mottled blue-green coloring, and the primitive crucifix. I like crucifixes that are neither too elaborate, nor too graphic--those enormous ones where you can see Jesus' eyes rolling in pain and the drops of blood on his forehead freak me out. My favorite crucifix is the one on my Job's Tears rosary, where Jesus is hanging from a dogwood tree instead of a cross.

Shop: One Days Grace. They make a variety of religious jewelry, not all of it Catholic or Christian.

rosary ring

This is a rosary ring, which was also popular during penal times for the same reason, and was even easier to hide. You moved the ring around your finger as you prayed and moved your thumb from one knob to the other. You had to keep track of the decades yourself, though.

I don't know how old this is but it's got a lovely patina.

Shop: Inspirational Supply. They mostly sell rosary parts, for people who like to make their own. This could be used as a necklace, it's got a loop at the top, but I prefer it as a ring, which is its original intention.

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This is something I've been meaning to do for a while, get all of my vintage cameras together and take some photos. (I took 3 photos from 3 positions: standing, sitting, kneeling.) I don't keep them all in one place--I group all the rangefinders together in one place, my Kodaks in another, my Polaroids in another, some that are for sale I keep in the closet, and miscellaneous ones are on the top shelf of my desk--so it's hard to get a sense of how many I actually have. This isn't even all the vintage cameras I've EVER owned, since I started my Etsy shop last year, I've sold a few. A lot of these are for sale, too--in fact, most of them would be for sale at the right price. Although there are a few I wouldn't sell at ANY price: my Arguses, my Land Camera, the WWI-era Zeiss-Ikon that Phil bought in Germany when he was in the Army. He gave it to me a few years ago.

PICT0988, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0987, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0990, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

A lot of people do film stash photos, but I don't have tons of film on hand at any given time. Frankly I think it's dumb to hoard more film than you can shoot in, say, a year. Refrigerated or no, unexposed film is a slowly degrading medium. I'm currently stockpiling about 20 rolls of Fuji Neopan 400, which I recently learned is being discontinued, but I won't try to amass more than that. I'll just have to switch to Ilford when it runs out. Sigh.
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690526-R1-35-00A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Baptist Church in Rodney.

690526-R1-29-5A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Inside the church.

690526-R1-20-15A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Methodist church in Rodney. If you look to the left of the wrought iron tip, you can make out the cannon ball embedded in the wall.

690526-R1-16-19A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Inside the Methodist church.

690526-R1-09-26A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

The Windsor Ruins.

690526-R1-11-24A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Bases of pillars at the Ruins.

I'd like to go back to the Windsor Ruins in high spring, like maybe a couple of months from now, when all those trees are blooming.

I didn't finish the roll in Mississippi, so a few days ago I went to the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette. Of all the churches I've seen in Louisiana, that's still my favorite, even more than St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. I haven't been there since before I moved to Louisiana, and I've only ever taken digital shots with it, not film.

690526-R1-00-36A, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This is a photo I took to compare and contrast with one of my favorite digital shots I've ever taken. The most obvious difference is depth of field, with film I couldn't get both the angel and the church in focus, and I chose the angel.

The digital photo is visually cleaner, I cropped it extensively--something I'm reluctant to do with film, unless it just really needs it, like if someone's arm is sticking into the photo or something--and I also crouched down so the granite surface of the tomb was level with the horizon of the photo. You don't see any of the cemetery behind the angel, just the church.

And yet I'm hard-pressed to say which photo I like better. The digital shot is probably "better"; but the film shot has a certain texture that's more pleasing to me, a contrast and a sense of what that particular moment in time was actually like. It's not as "pretty" but it seems more "real".

I guess which photograph you like more depends on what you, the viewer, are looking to get out of it.

In other photography news, I've discovered a couple of Etsy shops that specialize in vintage Soviet goods, and soon I will be the proud owner of a (film-tested) Smena 8M, manufactured by the LOMO factory in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg again) around the time that I was begging my parents to be allowed to stay up late enough to watch this edgy new cop show called Miami Vice. The Smena is a weird mix of cheap plastic housing, confusing manual controls, and a surprisingly good quality leaf shutter (like my beloved Arguses) and triple-element coated lens. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

The lens cap has a hammer & sickle bas-relief! It's weird to feel nostalgic over something that you spent your childhood fearing, but I guess the key word is "childhood". Besides, I was never one of those Gen X kids who worried about nuclear war. I always figured I'd die instantly, living so close to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, so what's the point? I had more important things on my mind, like mastering Ms. Pac-Man and finding just the right shade of florescent blue jelly shoes.

They also have Leicas that were released in honor of Lenin's 90th birthday that look BAD ASS, but those are currently a wee bit out of my range. I'm keeping them bookmarked, though.
box_camera: (kaylee parasol)
I love that things like terrariums (terraria?) are undergoing a revival. I did an Etsy treasury list; the trouble with treasury lists is that I wind up wanting to buy everything on them. Although actually I build my own, so the only one I felt like I reeeally needed was this marimo one, which is technically an aquarium, because marimo are a form of algae and live in water.

PICT0464, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Her prices are really reasonable, most of them are around $25. This came with everything but the shell and the flat white rock, which I added (my friend Rachel sent me a big bag of beach flotsam to use in my terrariums). It comes in a kit, so you can arrange everything however you like it. The opening is under 1" wide, so I did it the same way I arrange my light bulb terrariums: put in the bottom layer, put in the water, drop everything in, and poke it around with a chopstick until you're satisfied.

PICT0465, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

In other news, I guess there's some big football game today, whatever. The Super Bowl to me is just an excuse to make many delicious snacks. This year's menu is chili-lime buttered cashews, a crawfish mold, pepperoni pizza dip, honey mustard-pretzel chicken wings, and Creole cream cheese ice cream cupcakes with a Biscoff spread center (it's like peanut butter but it tastes like graham crackers) and caramel Magic Shell. I taste-tested one of those last night and they are FABULOUS.
box_camera: (yay omg)
One of my primary sources for snail mail pals is Penpal of the It's run by Julie, the same woman who's behind the Etsy store La Papierre, one of my favorite sources for stationery. The site is about 2/3 ads from people interested in snail mailing--I was interview #70, you may recall--and 1/3 regular blog: posts about Julie's life and work, announcements of new products in her shop, etc.

Last week she did a post about her work space, which was fun. I always like seeing the work spaces of other creative people. And at the end, she had some photos of a storage clipboard that I and 20 other people were immediately like WANT WANT WANT. She bought it at Staples, but for some reason the closest Staples to me is in Alexandria, nearly 80 miles away. But there is an Office Depot in Lafayette, and I figured even if they didn't have the exact same product, they'd have something similar. (As it turns out, they had the exact same product.)

closed clipboard, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

The top is a clipboard with a nice faux leather surface that isn't too soft to write on. I like the reinforced corners as well.

open clipboard, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

There's a very decent amount of storage inside. Left side is letters to be answered, stamps, and sticker seals; right side is loose stationery (anything that didn't come in a boxed set or a tear-off sheet book) and a stash of photos to send with letters.

locking clipboard, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

And it locks! That appeals to the part of me that is eternally a 16-year-old girl. Although actually I never keep it locked, my correspondence isn't private. (I also leave my journal lying out in plain view in the room where basically my entire family uses the computer whenever I'm not in the house. Don't come crying to me if you read something meaniepants about yourself.)

So yeah, this is my new favorite thing. I can write letters from anywhere with it, I can take it with me on trips or just downstairs. I can see it coming in handy during the holidays, when I want to write letters but don't want to hole myself up in my room while family I only see once or twice a year is downstairs.

And if you're wondering where my fountain pens are, I've been keeping them in a Japanese fabric roll case. It holds 9 of my pens, and would probably hold a dozen thinner pens.
box_camera: (kaylee parasol)
Not content with fountain pens and WWII-era typewriters, I've started using dip pens when I write letters. Actually, I am not new to them. When I was a teenager, my best friend gave me a glass dip pen for my birthday, and I used it for several years (mostly to write in my journal, as I wasn't into the whole epistolary thing back then) until the tip broke off.

I bought a pewter dipping pen at Papier Plume shortly after I moved to Louisiana, mostly for aesthetic reasons. (Side rant: I've gotten pretty sick of the ubiquitous fleurs-de-lis since moving to Louisiana, but I liked it on the pen. Mine has an olive green feather.) I bought a couple bottles of calligraphy ink (walnut and moss green--earth tones seem to suit the medium better; PP makes and bottles their own) and did use it a couple of times. But the nib they stuck on it was super sharp and pointy--like, you could put someone's eye out with that thing--and I had too many problems with it catching on the paper and spraying ink all over it (and my hands and the desk and whatever shirt I was wearing at the time).

I figured they could probably recommend a better nib for someone who a) prints, rather than writes and b) tends to hold a pen like they're trying to strangle it. But I didn't get back to the store until this past Labor Day weekend, although I've been buying sealing wax and fountain pen ink off their website. The woman who works there suggested 2 different nibs: one with a flat tip, like a calligraphy pen; and one with a ball-tip. They both worked out beautifully, and the flat nib can even be used on ordinary lined binder paper.

So when I went back last weekend, I bought another of each type, just so I have spares--dip nibs don't last forever. I also bought a bottle of their peacock blue ink, which is hands down my favorite shade of blue--and since joining the Goulet Pens Ink Drop, believe me when I tell you that I have tried a LOT of different blues. I've been using the fountain pen ink and wanted it in calligraphy ink. And I bought a bottle of gold calligraphy ink, which is not as frivolous as it may sound, as I actually use metallic ink quite often, to address dark-colored envelopes. Also fine, maybe I have some half-assed idea of doing illuminated letters in my correspondence.

I also bought this dip pen (in bronzed pewter with a burgundy feather), which I am not even going to try to defend, I don't in any way need a second pen. Design aside, it's the exact same pen. I APOLOGIZE FOR NOTHING! In fact, I plan on buying this pen as well, just as soon as I can get it with a dark blue feather.
box_camera: (yay omg)
It's no secret that I go antiquing a LOT. I always loved antique stores, but they weren't as plentiful in California as they are in the south. There are entire small towns here whose entire downtowns are made up of antique stores, and they all have "antique festivals" in the spring and fall--essentially just the same festival crap you see anywhere, but the stores themselves will usually have sales to go along with it.

Mostly I'm looking for vintage cameras of course, but occasionally I will come across something interesting that I just can't say no to: opera glasses or absinthe spoons or brooches. (Actually I have quite a decent collection of those last.) In the past couple of years, I'm seeing more and more typewriters. I guess as the kids who never used them become old enough to start buying antiques, they're starting to be seen as "exotic". It's been in the back of my mind for a while that it would be fun to have one for writing letters, but I just hadn't found one that I had to have. Either they were too busted, or too big, or too expensive, or not old enough.

Well, I'm sure you can imagine where all this is heading:

underwood champion, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I went antiquing in Breaux Bridge on Saturday, and found one that hit all the required marks:

Under $100 ($43)
Over 50 years old (1948 model)
Not too big (portable model)
More or less working condition (the 2 key sometimes sticks, but how often do you use it)

I've written a few letters on it since Saturday night, and it's so much fun! There's something satisfying about keys you really have to pound on, and the noise they make, and how you have to slow down or all the keys get tangled up.

The case is scuffed, but it latches and the handle is intact. I want to get some compressed air and blow out some of the dust, and maybe scrub the keys with an old dry toothbrush. And I'm waiting for a "new" ribbon from an eBay seller, although the one in there still has some life in it.

typewriter close up, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Something about keys that stick up, instead of being flush with the keyboard, tickles my fancy.

I just really like giving old things another chance to do what they were meant to do.
box_camera: (kaylee parasol)
I feel like 2011--my first complete year in Louisiana--was a pretty good year for me. I still feel positive about my decision to move down here, and the Lomography meetup group has been going well. We picked up another member--our first male member--last month. He's been living and working in South Korea for the past few years, and he made a Shaun of the Dead reference like 10 minutes after we met, so I think we're going to get along.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but I got a Christmas bonus (a week's wages--gross, not net) and told that I'm getting a raise. I bought myself a Nook Tablet today, as a post-holiday reward to myself. I'm still going to get most of my reading material from the library, but I can see buying new releases that have waiting lists, or obscure titles that can't be obtained through interlibrary loan. Plus there's magazines, music, games, movies, TV, web browsing.

Jamie and Greg went back to Los Angeles today, and Rian returned to Chicago on Tuesday. I have tomorrow off, then it's back to the grind. But I have the next meetup--in Morgan City this time--next weekend, and Hope and I have discussed doing a Lomography road trip in March. I was thinking either north Louisiana, the Galveston/Beaumont area of Texas, or Mississippi. And by a weird coincidence, she mentioned a restaurant in McComb, MS. That's the town that my father's family was originally from, although he mostly grew up in North Platte, NE. So it's probably going to be Mississippi this time, although I'd like to do more in the future.

One thing I'd like to do different in 2012 is that I'd like to do something for Mardi Gras. I didn't last year, and I kind of felt like I wasted being in south Louisiana. I think I'll probably go see the Krewe of Muses parade in New Orleans. That's an all-female krewe that rolls through uptown the Thursday before Fat Tuesday. Since it's all women, and not in the French Quarter, and not on Mardi Gras the actual day, there's a minimum of the obnoxious shenanigans I associate with Mardi Gras in New Orleans going on: namely, drunk college girls flashing their tits and drunker frat rats trying to date rape anything with boobs.
box_camera: (yay omg)
I don't do Black Friday. And not out of "anti-materialism", which frankly comes across as just like conservatives clutching their pearls because poor people might have cell phones. Yes, it's naked manipulation of the working classes by the capitalist machine, but the consumers are the victims here and they don't deserve knee-jerk liberal sneering. Most of them aren't so dumb that they don't realize they're being manipulated, but this might be their one chance a year to make their kid happy. Or afford to buy diapers in bulk.

No, really I just prefer spend my day after Thanksgiving sleeping in and gorging on turkey sandwiches and pie. Insane crowds give me panic attacks, and I really don't like being pepper sprayed. (Pandagon has an interesting post up about how this incident says more about the acceptance of casual torture in our society than about consumerism. Police are using it, and tasers, not to fight crime, but to punish people they perceive as not falling into line. Pretty soon people are going to start using it on people standing too close in the ATM line and snooty waiters.)

Anyway, yesterday after work I put $300 on my re-loadable Visa, went home and booted up ye olde internette, and was done with virtually all of my Christmas shopping in about 10 minutes. (I just have to go to one store for a gift card.) I TOTALLY FUCKING ROCK. I don't think I've EVER been done with all of my shopping before December 1 before. I got totally kick-ass gifts for everyone too, although I don't want to say what they are since some family members might read this.

p.s. Email or PM me your addy if you want a Christmas card, those are going in the mail next week. I got PC "Season's Greetings" cards, so you needn't hesitate if you celebrate some other winter holiday. I got you covered.

June 2014



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