Friday, February 26, 2010

My Museum

Fish Form

Translucent dark blue glass; cast, wheel-cut and polished

1st Century, probably Italy

Believed to be a serving cover that would have been lifted to reveal cooked fish

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY

photo by Mario Carrieri for Olivetti

I tore this picture out of a magazine in 1987.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Possums (We Do Our Part)

Pictured in this photograph are participants in a parade supporting the National Recovery Administration, circa 1935, during FDR's New Deal. Based on where I got it, in all likelihood it was taken in Griffin, Georgia.

The details of the picture tell an interesting story. The top of an actual tree has been installed in the mule-drawn wagon, and climbing around the branches are at least six live opossums. Just above and to the right of the man at center, there's what looks like the mask of a raccoon, blurred during the exposure. You can see the fellow at right is gently holding the face of the hound that eagerly tracked and treed all these living decorations. The fellow at center is holding a dog calling horn, and just to the right of his head is a lantern. So my guess is that these guys have been up all night, putting together a compelling display on behalf of the West End Cafe, and entertaining people who've been enduring some very tough times.

Ever see anything like it in the Macy's Thanksgiving or Rose Bowl Parades?

I didn't think so.

Possums rock.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Super 'gloo

I can't get enough of vintage hand-tinted photographs, and recently bought these examples. They're from the Winter Carnival in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the buildings are called Ice Palaces or, in the case of the bottom image, the Ice Court. There was a huge skating rink in front of that semi-circular structure. Each has the date 1938 on the back, but it seems the first one is from 1939, the second from 1937, and the last from '38. They're stamped Arrow Photo Service, Minneapolis, Minn.

Why was it important to color these photos to sell to tourists?

"At night electric lights illuminated these crystal palaces in patterns of changing color." "Their brilliant lighting consumed as much electricity in ten days as a town of 7,000 inhabitants normally required in a year." ("Ice Palaces" by Fred Anderes and Ann Agranoff; Abbeville Press, Inc., New York , 1983.)

There is some wonderful related imagery here.

And just because I'm easily distracted and enjoy vernacular architecture, too, I'm adding this image of more great ice structures, an Inuit village on Baffin Island circa 1865.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Joyful Noise, Again

I've had a number of homemade folk musical instruments pass through my hands - banjos, guitars, diddly bows, dulcimers, fiddles and more. Makers have incorporated gourds, license plates, sheet metal and old signs, gas cans and other surprising or incongruous materials. But this is all pine wood, and may be the crudest of them all. See how the F-holes were chopped out with a jackknife? The neck, 3 surviving tuning pegs and the body all seem to have been fashioned with the most basic tools. There's a black material like pitch on the front and back of the body. The leather strap and the single string were added long after it was made and used, if my close examination is correct. I'm convinced it was made to be played, and that the maker had made others like it before, because of some details like the grooved top nut and the way the peg ends were split to make a tight fit. Of course the bow is long gone. I can't imagine the sounds it made, but surely it was distinctive.

This one was found in rural north Georgia, not far from Appalachia to the north and not far from the cotton fields of the piedmont to the south. But you never know where, or whether, an object like this has traveled.

Imagine my surprise when I came across the 19th century photograph shown at the bottom.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Surrounder


The Surrounder

An Ottoe Chief

Hand-colored aquatint after a painting by George Catlin

c. 1842

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Petite Fleur

Eleanor Rosabelle wearing white and green crepe paper dress and hat, representing an Easter lily for the church play.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Yeah, everybody loves fuzzy puppies. I love fuzzy pictures, of puppies and children. Some, at least.