What’s Beaut?

Well, just about everything about living in the 21st century is beaut. Sure there are some things which we need to be concerned about such as global warming and some individuals and groups of people in the world not getting along together. But, most of us are able to get on with life and enjoy our family, friends and all the world has to offer.

It is normal for most of us to have some days which are not so good, but hopefully these are well and truly outweighed by the good ones. Many of us like to capture memories of the good times and even some of the not so good times, and it is very easy and inexpensive to do that now. Almost everyone today is a photographer. When any significant event occurs anywhere, out come the smart phones to photograph or video the event.

How have you saved, or what have you done with  the photos that you have taken?

Many people post their photos on Instagram, Facebook or other social media sites. You may use one of the many photo sharing sites on the Internet. Perhaps you even have your own website(s). Ink jet printers are inexpensive and its easy to print on quality photographic paper.

But, with the technology available today, there are many more options available for you.

Before the days of digital cameras, photographs were taken with film cameras. When the film was full of exposed shots, it would be taken to a processing establishment to get developed and normally a set of prints would also be obtained. Now, these prints didn’t contain any inks or dyes. They were produced using chemistry processes. The photographic paper on which they were printed had a surface coating of silver halide which was needed to produce the print. Silver is an precious metal. It is, and always has been expensive. So the cost of producing silver halide prints is far greater than the cost of the ink or dye in your printer and the glossy paper you print onto.

Silver halide prints are still produced however. And, modern technology allows us to produce them even from photographs that had been taken with a digital camera.

Why do we bother when the process is more expensive than printing?

If I gave a one word answer to the above question, then that word would be “quality”. Silver halide prints don’t fade quickly like ink jet prints. They can have an archival life of up to two hundred years, and have a much “warmer” feel to them than ink jet prints. Many professional photographers have all of their prints produced using silver halide paper. Some still use film cameras.

 

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Coffee keeps me going 1

Coffee keeps me going 2

Aluminium

Tile 10 X 10 3

tile 15 x 15 2

Tile 25 X 27

Tile 20 X 30

Something a bit different

If you are looking for something a bit different then perhaps you may find it on this site which will probably be a continuing work in progress. I  have a sense of excitement regarding this web site which I have not had about others I have published. And over the years, that has been quite a few.

Currently it is close to eleven o'clock on Wednesday night, the thirteenth of January, two thousand and sixteen. Earlier in the evening I watched a couple of shows on TV, and then I came back to my notebook to do a bit of work. But, it hasn't been all work, I have also been doing a bit of reflecting whilst sitting here. It is no doubt an "age thing", but reflecting is something I have been doing more of in recent times. Birthdays have never been all that important to me, but I have one coming up in less than two weeks which is often considered a milestone in one's life. I turn seventy.

I remember mid-way through my working career, there was a lot of talk of early retirement, people retiring at age fifty-five instead of sixty-five. At the time I thought that would be beaut. But, here I am at seventy with absolutely no intention of retiring. There is so much that I still want to do, that I have not as yet done.

Earlier I was reflecting on what I had done and maybe what I could have done. My career path could easily have taken many different directions. When I left school there was not an unemployment problem. Many choices of jobs were available. I became a teacher, not because I had always had a burning desire to teach, I didn't, I became a teacher because I had been offered a scholarship to attend Teachers' College full-time for two years and get paid for doing so. Now don't get me wrong, I have always enjoyed teaching, and feedback I have been given over the years would indicate that I did, and still do, have skills in that area. But, without that Teacher's Scholarship, I could well have become an Industrial Chemist, or maybe a Horticulturist.

The persona which I present to the world really does not represent my real self. Deep inside me there has always been a suppressed entrepreneur, and an even more suppressed artist. The entrepreneurial side of me has on occasions been given free reign, but the rational side of me has kept the artist solely to leisure time pursuits. Everyone knows that it is only the artists in the top percentile rankings of the cohort who can make a reasonable living from their art.

Since being a young adult. I have always developed and printed my own black and white film. My first enlarger was one that I built myself. It worked, but not very well. When I could afford to do so, it was replaced with one commercially made.

My first year teaching was with a year six primary school class. That year with the class we made and fired pots. The finished products were not marvelous, but they were prized by all the students. Why? Because we did it all ourselves. We didn't buy any slabs of clay, nor did we have access to a kiln. And, it took us most of the year to obtain our final products, but when we had them they were prized.

The process briefly involved the following:

  • Finding a source of clay and digging it up.
  • Drying the clay in the sun.
  • Pounding the clay into a powder and passing it through a fine sieve.
  • Mixing the clay with water, and leaving it to dry in containers until it was the correct consistency.
  • Kneading the clay and making pots by hand.
  • Letting the pots dry slowly.
  • Collecting as many old bricks as we could. (By this time several parents became involved in the project and helped out)
  • Building an old fashioned wood-fired kiln. (A friend of mine who was an art lecturer helped with the design)
  • A weekend firing of the pots with old timber we had collected. (Several parents agreed to be rostered to feed the fire box)
  • After the bisque firing, we made our own glazes from chemicals found around the house, glazed the pots and the following weekend did a glaze firing.

Now what we did in that school will probably never be done again, at least in western schools. Firstly, I don't think the kids or the teachers would have the patience to do so. Secondly, workplace health and safety regulations in place today, would not allow it. To me that is a real pity. My feelings re that are similar to the feelings I had when the Public Works Department came around to all primary schools and ripped out all the adventure playgrounds, as they were considered unsafe. Sure we should try to keep people safe, but life does involve taking some risks.

When my two daughters were quite young, I cast their names in pewter. This involved finding a supplier of pure tin, antimony and copper and purchasing a crucible to melt it all in. For the moulds I used large cuttlefish shells.

To prepare the moulds, firstly I flattened the textured side of each shell, and then carved my girl's names into the respective shells. After the molten pewter from the mould had hardened and cooled, The cast names had the interesting texture of the various bands of the soft part of the cuttlefish shell.

Why have I dabbled in photographic processing, pottery, metalurgy and in more recent years, cheese making? Well, I suppose the short answer is for the satisfaction of successfully doing the various activities. None of the activities would have been financially viable. If I had tried to make any of these things a business, I would have gone broke. To the people who have tried my cheeses and told me, "these are great, you should sell them". My response has been along the lines of, "to cover my time and expenses, I would need to charge around $80.00 per kilogram, and nobody would pay that".

Dear reader, if you have been involved in art/craft activities, I am sure you will identify with what I am saying. Art and sport have one thing in common. In both you really need to be at the top to make money. for all of the rest of us these activities tend to cost us money.

Among my latest interests is sublimation printing. This involves a combination of time, heat and pressure. Special computers printers are fitted with piezoelectric print heads that use solid dyes suspended in a special gel to print mirror images onto special transfer paper. This transfer paper is then fixed to the substrate using heat resistant tape. The substrate must be polyester or have a poly-coated surface for the process to work. The substrate with the transfer paper is then placed in a heat press which applies both temperature and pressure. Depending on the substrate being used, the time in the press could be up to around five minutes and the temperature up to around two hundred degrees celcius. Sublimation is the name of the chemical process that occurs. The special dyes are converted by the heat directly into a gaseous state, without going through the liquid stage. These dyes are infused into the substrate at the molecular level. Essentially they have become a part of the substrate. In other printing processes such as silk screen or ink jet, the dyes are placed on the surface.

The final result is a high resolution full colour print. Because the print has been made at the molecular level, true continuous tones have been produced, similar to the silver halide process in photographic prints. Ink jet prints if enlarged will show the dots of colour.

I am really enjoying exploring the sublimation process using different materials. Already I have successfully printed on a variety of substrates. These include; 100% polyester (bright brilliant results), ceramics, card, plastics, melamine, aluminium sheets, mouse pads, stubby holders, slate and glass. When I use the term "success", I have also had several failures along the way. But, these have all been a part of my learning process, and my percentage of successes is increasing.

Already, I think I have more potential products available for sublimation printing than anyone else, but I am looking at continually increasing the range. If you have any ideas, I would like to hear from you.

Remember, the file photographs for the sublimation prints can be mine or yours. The higher the resolution of the original files, the better will be the quality of the final product. If you are a professional photographer and would like to offer some additional quality products, contact me for a chat regarding what we could do together.

If you would like to supply art work including text for any sublimated printed product, then contact me and I will give you relevant information about the size etc., of the art work required. I even have PDF files for some. Generally the art work will be several millimetres larger on all sides than the final product will be to allow for printing right to the edges.

If you have files to send to me, you can use this link.

Latest site update 3 February, 2016

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