Inspiration: Mary Ann Tipple Textile Art

I’ve been looking around at a lot of modern quilters and textile artists lately as I’ve been working on my quilting skills in general and working on how to merge photography (specifically old family photographs, which I have boxes and boxes of) with textile art. Fusing my family history with the utilitarian collective history of both photography and craft arts is something that has always interested me and been a prevalent theme in my own art, and it’s always interesting to see what others are doing in this realm as well.

And that’s how I ended up stumbling on Mary Ann Tipple‘s work. She has been working with old family and found photos for almost a decade.

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While her intention lies more in visual art than the utilitarian aspect of quilting (she transfers he images using gel-medium transfer techniques and often adds hard embellishments on the final quilts), I love her sense of history and the questioning of place in her work. You can see more oft Mary Ann Tipples work at her website, Textile Art Tipple.

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Testing … Testing … Brownie Twin 20

It’s a delightful (and rare) occurence when I drop off a roll of test film (ie- the first roll of film I’ve run through a camera I purchased at a yard sale, antique shop, or that devil of a website ebay) and come back to find a roll of film that’s actually usable. It’s almost more exciting than Christmas. And it’s exactly what happened today. I finally ran a roll of test film through my Kodak Brownie Twin 20 that I acquired at an antique mall down in New Orleans in October, and am happy to find the camera is in working condition. No light leaks, and the film was (pretty much) properly exposed. The lens is a little out of focus, but let’s be honest, if I wanted a crisp image, I wouldn’t be using old plastic cameras. Granted, I have yet to take anything but photos of houses in my neighborhood, but hey, that’s what test rolls are for. And besides, I live in a pretty rad neighborhood.

It’s good to have friends who like the same kind of coffee I do…

while I wait for my film to be developed (I spent the weekend finally finishing up test rolls for film for 2 old cameras), I am spending some time continuing to go though and organize film and photos. The more I spend time with the roll of film that I soaked in baking soda and boiling water and ran through the 35mm holga, the more I am attracted to the effects. Here is a shot of the typewriter I gave Jonathan, with a can of chicory and coffee in the background. That sounds mighty delicious, so I think I shall go make myself a cup.

Holgaroid!

I made my own fantastical Polaroid back for my Holga cameras. Sure, I could buy one (for $180) but I could also just take my Dremmel to a broken super shooter plus and a Holga back and make my own for the mere cost of $30 (with 2/3 of that being new Dremmel cutting discs), so that is the route I chose. In a few fun-filled hours I had repurposed franken-camera, and I learned that safety glasses are never as good as safety goggles. My scratched cornea that also came out of my camera modification adventure is healing nicely, and I solemnly vow to only wear safety goggles from here on out.

The final camera does have a very short focal range, which has to do with the film being about and inch further away from the lens than it would be in the normal Holga (you can rectify this by using a different Polaroid model, like the land camera series) but it’s still quite fun to play around with, and I’m sure I’ll figure out the best way to use camera eventually. That’s part of the fun of it, isn’t it? The trial and error, the experimenting, the surprise when you pull apart the developed instant film. You certainly can’t do that with digital! I’ll keep you posted.

First picture with the holgaroid. Polaroid 669 film, expired by 7 years

Another picture from the holgaroid, where you can (sort of) see it's short focal range

If you decide to make your own Holgaroid, please do know that Polaroid stopped making film a few years ago, but Fuji has taken on making the 100 sized instant film, as did the Impossible Project (they also have other sizes of instant film as well). You will need to make sure that the old Polaroid you are making your Holgaroid out of is compatible with 100 sized film.

WTF is Praxis?

You might notice the tagline to my little blog is “Creative Praxis.” But WTF does “praxis” mean? I am not referring to the test one might take to get into grad school to potentially become a teacher, or the rehab facility, but the word rooted in Greek that was first used in 1518.

Merriam-Webster defines praxis as “an exercise or practice of an art, science, or skill” and “a practical application of a theory”. Wikipedia states praxis is “the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted or practiced, embodied and/or realized. ‘Praxis’ may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practicing ideas.” Somewhere, in between the pretentious and convoluted words, I found the word I had tried to find to describe the process of making art. It’s my favorite word, one that I have used for the last 8 years, and one I will continue to use until this body can no longer sustain me.

To me, praxis means not only the process of researching and formulating ideas, shooting film (or painting, or writing, or whatever craft you choose), collecting histories, collecting theories, and eventually piecing everything together. Praxis is the culmination of all these steps, as well as the final piece. I find the word cyclical in nature, ideas and objects and theories all moving in a whirlpool of a project. On the other hand, the word “process” has always seemed so linear: step A to step B to step C until we arrive at our destination. But i have never been a linear person, nor thought in a linear manner, and that is why I will always choose the word “praxis” over “process.”

I started this blog to discuss a few major photographic projects I am currently working on, and potentially as a space to discuss future projects as well. One project (Hereditics) is in its beginning stages and I have no idea where it will go, though I do expect it to take me at least a few years to discover its path. Another one of the projects, which I will start writing about in the upcoming months, is a project that was put away for a few years and has resurfaced. The basic skeletal structure of the project currently exists, but theories and research and writings need to be fleshed out. This is my space to discuss my praxis and growing relationships with these projects.

“For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”
Paulo Freire

But I promise it won’t all be theorizing and deep internalization and discovering what and how I want to communicate with my craft. Sometimes even I need to let loose and have some fun, experiment a little, see what happens when I throw caution to the wind and frankly, my dear, not give a damn. That’s what I did today, when I picked up a roll of film that I had run through boiling water and baking soda before shooting, and the results were quite fun, and slightly reminiscent of some of the damaged film of my grandmothers I have been going through as of late. Who knows, maybe someday this little experiment will become a part of my serious praxis.

Jonathan and his typewriter