Coptic-style book binding is one of the oldest methods of book binding. It was used in Egypt as early as the 2nd century by early Christians, who were known as Copts. Today the Coptic method is often used by artists to create one-of-a-kind handmade books which can be used as sketchbooks, journals, or for any other book art. Coptic style books are noted for being able to lay open completely flat without risking damaging the spine.
In Introduction to Coptic-Style Book Binding, a 5 session evening course offered by The Smithsonian Associates, students are taught hands-on how to make Coptic-bound books.The great thing about this method of book binding is that it can be easily replicated at home. No adhesive is used; pages are stitched together and the spine is left exposed, giving the book a simple and elegant look. Students are given the opportunity to explore various binding materials, such as hand-made papers and creative cover choices.
Instructor Katie Wagner is a book artist and conservator who also works for Smithsonian Libraries.
Register for Introduction to Coptic-Style Book Binding
Wed., Feb. 16-March 16, 6:30 - 9 p.m.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, S.W.
The Kennedys 50 Years Ago
This winter, visitors will be able to see nine photographs of the Kennedys as taken by Richard Avedon for Harpers Bazaar. During the photo session 50 years ago—the only to take place between the election and the inauguration—Avedon removed the usual activity-filled environments and set them in front of his plain background allowing the viewer to engage directly with the Kennedys. The unique set of images is on view for the first time at the museum since their donation in 1966. The display also includes Avedon’s contact sheets, allowing visitors insight into his retouching and editorial process.
[text via NMAH exhibitions - image via NMAH]
Visit the National Museum of American History blog for more information about Richard Avedon's photo shoot with the Kennedys and additional images from the exhibition.
Through Feb. 28, 2011
National Museum of American History
Second Floor West
Also at NMAH: Portrait of Stephen Colbert (back on view as of Dec. 16, 2010)
A series of segments on "The Colbert Report" in 2008 depicted comedian Stephen Colbert's quest to have his portrait accepted by one of the Smithsonian’s museums. The portrait hung in the National Portrait Gallery through April 1, 2008. For more information about this portrait, visit the portrait's fact sheet.
On April 1, 2008, the National Museum of American History agreed to display Stephen Colbert's portrait in the "Treasures of American History" exhibition until it closed on April 13, 2008. Later that year, the portrait went on view in the newly renovated National Museum of American History, where it remained on view until September 2009. The portrait returned view at the National Museum of American History on December 16, 2010.
[text and image via NMAH]
A series of segments on "The Colbert Report" in 2008 depicted comedian Stephen Colbert's quest to have his portrait accepted by one of the Smithsonian’s museums. The portrait hung in the National Portrait Gallery through April 1, 2008.
For more information about this portrait, visit the portrait's fact sheet.
National Museum of American History
Third floor, West
The Orchid in Chinese Painting
On view will be 20 works related to orchids in Chinese painting, ranging in date from the 15th century to the 19th century. The cymbidium orchid (lan) has been cultivated in China for hundreds of years. Since the time of Confucius (551-479 BCE), the cymbidium orchid has been associated with principled, moral gentlemen and with such attributes as friendship, loyalty, and patriotism. After the orchid became an independent subject in Chinese painting during the Song dynasty (960-1279), artists depicted orchids using outline and color. From the 13th century on, most scholar artists chose to paint the leaves and blossoms calligraphically, using only ink. Twelve of the paintings that will be on view belong to the ink orchid tradition. Also, this exhibition will coincide with the exhibition Orchids: A View from the East on view at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum beginning January 29 through April 24, 2011.
[text via SI Exhibitions - image via Freer|Sackler]
For more information about the history and symbolism of orchids in Chinese art, visit the exhibition page.
Jan. 15, 2011 - July 17, 2011
Being the last lab in the world processing Kodachrome, there was probably not a single conversation about the film that didn’t mention Dwayne’s Photo. In my search to understand more about Kodachrome and what makes it so special, I wanted to learn more about them, so I sent an inquiry through their website form. Within a few days, I had a response from Office Manager Krystal Smith, who put me in touch with Grant Steinle, V.P. of Operations, who was kind enough to provide a history of the company and Dwayne, himself, and even answer a few of my questions.
Dwayne’s Photo, Parsons, KS
Dwayne Steinle started out with a borrowed enlarger in a second-floor room above a book and camera shop in downtown Parsons, Kansas. That was back in 1956 and his business was one of hundreds of small regional photo labs throughout the United States mainly providing black and white developing and printing services to local drug and camera stores. No stranger to photography, Dwayne grew up with a darkroom in his basement, shot for his high school paper, and even ran a photo lab supply depot in Korea while in the Army during the Korean War, despite being trained for radio work.
By the 1980’s, Dwayne’s business had expanded to specialty photographic processing for other photo labs and, in 1988, became the go-to lab for Wal-Mart. Business continued to grow and slide processing was added to their list of services.
In 1994, and over half a million dollars later, Dwayne’s was developing Kodachrome. The start-up wasn’t an easy one and required an analytical laboratory and, because Kodachrome chemistry had to be mixed from scratch from individual components, a chemist to do analysis on the processing solutions. Additional space was required for mixing and bulk storage, and specialized equipment was necessary for all of it - but, it was worth it. By 1996, forty years after he started in a room above a small shop, his business had grown from Dwayne to Dwayne’s Photo: 165 employees in a 40,000 square-foot production facility. If you had film developed in the 1990’s, chances are, that film was processed by Dwayne’s Photo.
By 2006, after a steady decline in film processing in the wake of the digital revolution, only three labs were left processing Kodachrome film: Kodak labs in New Jersey and Switzerland, and Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas. Kodak withdrew from the processing business in 2007 and closed their Swiss lab, leaving Dwayne’s as the go-to processor for all things Kodachrome - until 2009 when Kodak announced the retirement of Kodachrome, which also meant that the dye couplers necessary to process the film would also end production, leaving a finite amount available for use.
Dwayne’s Photo stopped accepting rolls of Kodachrome for processing at noon, Parsons, Kansas time, December 30, 2010. If your Kodachrome wasn’t shot and in their facility by that cut-off, well, you were probably a little sad that day.
But, that didn’t mean their processors stopped that day. In fact, the last roll of Kodachrome passed through the chemistry nineteen days later, on January 18th, 2011 - the roll was shot by Dwayne Steinle, himself.
Kodachrome Processing Line, Dwayne’s Photo, Parsons, KS
How many rolls of Kodachrome has Dwayne's developed?
Grant Steinle: From December 26, 2010 to the end of processing on January 18, 2011, we processed over 20,000 rolls of 35mm slide film, over 3,500 rolls of Super 8 movie film and about 57,000 feet of 16mm movie film. That is about the same volume we did in the first 4 to 5 months of 2010.
Kodachrome Processing Line, Dwayne’s Photo, Parsons, KS
How intensive is the Kodachrome developing process? For example, how many steps are involved, how many different solutions does it require, and how long does the process take from start to finish? Is the process automated or does it require handling along the way?
Grant: The Kodachrome development process has 14 steps. It is very complicated and highly automated. We splice 100 individual customer rolls of 35mm film into a master roll to run on the film processor. We put the film on at the load end of the processor and it runs through the machine. The main steps are rem jet bath (the back of Kodachrome film is coated in a black, carbon material called rem jet (the anti-halation layer that must be removed before the film can be developed), rem jet buffer, first developer, cyan re-exposure printer, cyan developer, yellow re-exposure printer, yellow developer, magenta developer, bleach, fix, final wash, dryer. There is also a wash step after each developer. The film processor runs at 32 feet per minute. From the time you put film on at the load end to when it comes off at the take up takes about 45 minutes.
Kodachrome Processing Line, Dwayne’s Photo, Parsons, KS
What is unique about the Kodachrome process? I understand that the dye is added during developing, which combines with the couplers present in the film, but that's where my extent of knowledge ends.
Grant: Kodachrome is unique because it was the first widely available color film (first introduced in 1935). It is also unique because it is the only color film where the dyes that make up the image are not present in the film when it is manufactured. Kodachrome is essentially a black and white film when it leaves the factory. During the development process, the dye couplers in the three color developers form dye around the sights of exposed silver halide in the appropriate emulsion layers. The fact that there are no unused dye couplers left in the film gave Kodachrome its unique archival keeping capabilities. If stored in the dark, it was the longest lasting of all color films.
Kodachrome Processing Line, Dwayne’s Photo, Parsons, KS
Kodachrome was a well-used film among professionals, including National Geographic photographers. Are there any memorable photos or photographers with which Dwayne's has worked?
Grant: The most recent one was with Steve McCurry, the photographer who took the famous cover of the Afghan Girl for National Geographic. Kodak gave him the last roll of Kodachrome film manufactured and he was here in July to get it developed. He had take pictures all around the world (New York, India, Istanbul, even a couple here in Parsons, KS) and it was very exciting to see the images he had captured. My favorites were of members of a nomadic tribe in India. His adventure with the last roll of Kodachrome [ever produced] will be showcased in a program on the National Geographic channel sometime this year.
Dwayne Steinle, Founder & Grant Steinle, V.P. Operations
For a preview of Steve McCurry’s photos, check out this NPR slideshow. Many fantastic projects have been born from Kodachrome and even more since the announcement of its retirement including photographer Daniel Bayer’s The Kodachrome Project and blog, so be sure to check that out, too - he worked with Dwayne’s Photo for several years and documented his last shots of Kodachrome, and the lab, on his blog.
Next week, I will conclude this series with an interview with Dave C., the photographer who offered up his found Kodachrome inventory for free on Flickr, along with some of my own Kodachrome photos, which were delivered last week.
Last week we talked about drawing one-point perspective, which is great if you're looking down a hallway or directly facing a building. But what if the object you're drawing is rotated so that you're facing the corner and not a flat side? Now you need two-point perspective.
Two point perspective means there are two vanishing points. Like one-point perspective, the first step to drawing two-point perspective is to draw a horizon line and establish the vanishing points. Use a ruler, and draw the horizon line at eye level.
Next, draw a vertical line for the corner of your object (In this example the object we're drawing is a box). Make sure this line is straight and that if you extended the line it would meet the horizon at 90 degrees.
The next step gets a little complicated. From the far corners of the box, draw a second set of vanishing lines. The vanishing lines will go from the right corners (top and bottom) to the left vanishing point, and the vanishing lines from the left corners (top and bottom) will go to the right vanishing point.
Erase the excess lines and find the back corner by connecting the intersection of the top vanishing lines to the intersection of the bottom vanishing lines. This line should be completely vertical, not slanted. Small inaccuracies can make it so the vanishing line intersections don't line up and the back corner will be slanted. If this is the case, either erase your vanishing lines and start again or draw the back corner so it's "close enough" to the vanishing point corners. It is important that the line is verticale, however. A slanted line will result in a mishapen looking box.
**Remember that the vanishing points don't have to be visible in your drawing. To draw with vanishing points that are outside the border of your image, tape extra pieces of paper to the edges of your drawing to make it wider, then remove the extra paper when you're done. You can also attach your drawing to a drawing board or table and use pieces of tape to mark your vanishing points.
Edward Hopper's The Lighthouse at Two Lights, 1929 is a great example of two point perspective. The vanishing points are outside of the border of the image, and the horizon line is low on the page because the viewer is looking up at the lighthouse.
An empty storefront at 3068 Mt. Pleasant St. NW will soon become the district's second Temporium, a temporary space for local artisans to showcase and sell their work. The first Temporium was on H Street NE in July 2010, and it was a huge success. The new Temporium should provide exciting opportunities for the culturally rich and truly diverse neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant, the often forgotten hidden gem of DC. The Temporium will not only support creative entrepreneurs, but will activate and highlight the Mt. Pleasant Street commercial corridor, providing residents with unique services and activities. Most importantly, the Temporium will promote this lively neighborhood.
The theme of the Mt. Pleasant Temporium is storytelling, which will give visitors insight into the handmade goods for sale as well as the 30 local, independent artists who made them. The storytelling theme will also be explored through special programming, such as autobiographical and theatrical storytelling with SpeakeasyDC, trunk shows, educational panels, and live music.
“I lived in Mt. Pleasant for 10 years, so I have a real soft-spot for the neighborhood and a desire to see it prosper,” said Amy Saidman, director of SpeakeasyDC. “The Temporium is a great way to bring people and energy to this great neighborhood.”
The Mt. Pleasant Temporium
3068 Mt. Pleasant St. NW
Washington, DC 20010
Tentatively Jan. 28 - Feb. 26
Wed – Fri 2pm – 7pm -- Sat 10am – 6pm -- Sun 11am – 5pm
More information: Mt. Pleasant Temporium
Text adapted from http://mtptemporium.com/
Fabric of Survival features Esther Nisenthal Krinitz’s powerful works of fabric art that depict beautiful yet haunting images of her personal experience as a Holocaust survivor. Download the free Fabric of Survival Audio Guide to your Ipod or MP3 player before your visit.
Portraits of Life uses photography to tell the story of the many Holocaust survivors who now call Montgomery County home. These works are exhibited together, exploring the issues of personal courage and humanity that individuals must draw upon to overcome injustice. Text via Strathmore - Fine Art & Exhibitions
The Mansion at Strathmore
10701 Rockville Pike
North Bethesda, MD 20852
FREE - on view through February 21, 2011
R.C. Gorman: Early Prints and Drawings, 1966–1974
This exhibition of 28 drawings and lithographs by Navajo artist R.C. Gorman (1931-2005) reveals the artist's early work with the nude, and foreshadows the monumental women and Indian "madonnas" that later brought the artist international acclaim. Also featured are less well-known prints such as a rare self-portrait, a series based on Navajo weaving designs and Yei-bi-Chai, a print reproduced as a poster for his 1975 solo exhibition at the Museum of the American Indian.
National Museum of the American Indian
on the National Mall, Washington, DC
FREE - January 13, 2011–May 1, 2011
In my quest to understand what makes Kodachrome so special, and while I wait for my own roll to return from processing, I’ve asked my friends for their thoughts, opinions, and memories about the film...
Christopher Chen -
I have no real memories associated w/Kodachrome because its heyday was before I was even a photographer & I didn't start using it until about 4 years ago. What I loved about Kodachrome was that because it was based on B&W film, it had the beautiful grain of B&W film, only w/nice, not over-the-top, color. Modern slide (E6) films are just as archival as Kodachrome was, but since they're based on dyes, they don't have that grain. I shot & shipped out approximately 65 rolls in November & December of last year, leaving 3 rolls unshot to be processed should it be revived, Jurassic Park-style.
I took my first formal photography class in college in the mid 1980s and, when we shot in color, we used slide film. With slide film you got the image as you exposed it, not the interpretation of the person processing the negatives at the photo lab. Thanks to an uncle and great-uncle that were professional photographers I had already been encouraged to shoot with Kodachrome since I was a child. Those gorgeously-saturated colors were so very appealing. It continued to be my film of choice until Fuji Velvia was introduced in the early 1990s. I admit a lot of the reason I switched to Velvia was price and convenience - E6 processing was just so much cheaper and faster.
I would still return to Kodachrome from time to time until I switched over to mainly digital for color in 2006 - it just felt more special than other films. I was thrilled when an Internet photographer connection located a freezer full of somewhat outdated Kodachrome late in 2010 and offered to share. It gave me a chance to have one last fling with Kodachrome during a trip to Paris this December and just make it under the developing deadline.
Notre Dame and Locks, Paris, France, 2010, photo by Karon Flage
Kerrin Kastorf -
Kodachrome came with built in nostalgia. Even if you had never used it before (I hadn't until I bought my first and last ever rolls off eBay last year) you felt like you were somehow connected to the past, to the thousands of other photographers that had used it throughout it's 75 year history. For me the specialness came from getting to shoot a couple rolls in Europe. My mental images of Europe had always appeared in Kodachrome color - the warm red tile roofs, sunny yellow dresses, and deep blue skies - so it was necessary that I capture it on that very film when I had the chance. I'm very glad I got to use it but do wish I had tried it long before I did. At least I was able to experience a little bit of that history and can now attach my own nostalgia when I look at the slides it produced. :)
Milan, Italy, photo by Kerrin Kastorf
Duomo, Milan, Italy, photo by Kerrin Kastorf
Missy Leone -
I had never used it prior to obtaining two rolls in late August of 2010. I decided to try Kodachrome because I'd heard it was this amazing film that had great color, particularly reds and oranges, and was really good for portraits. I love taking photos of my son, who is 6, but otherwise was never really into portrait photography. In a way, I hoped that shooting with the Kodachrome would encourage me that much more to take portraits of friends and family. I expected it to be exceptional, to surpass any gaps in my photography abilities. Obviously, no film is that good.
I was first introduced to it via the Paul Simon song and McCurry's famous "Afghan Girl" photo. My parents had just helped clean my grandmother's house and she had decades of National Geographic magazines and that issue was one of the most recent at the time. That was the first photo I ever remember thinking, "WOW, I wish I could shoot photos that well!". Obviously, I wasn't thinking, back then, "I sure love that Kodachrome film", but the image is indelibly etched into my brain, even now.
I wish I could say my short-lived experience with it was phenomenal. It isn't. I think it's about as good as Kodak's Portra NC films in rendering skin tones and natural color. But I know that it's a film with staying power and that even as other film negatives turn odd colors and age as fast as we do, for some reason Kodachrome stays true. And I hope that the memories I've caught of my friends and family will be as sharp in 50 years as they are today.
I shot exactly one roll of Kodachrome, on October 21, 2010. I hopped a bus to New York, got off at Penn Station and walked down 6th Avenue with an eye toward the mid-day sun, hoping it was strong enough to expose a roll that expired in 1977. I'd been hoarding it for a year, and then, finally, I loaded it. I tried to shoot things that felt, to me anyway, like timeless New York City, things that were respectful of the age of the film and the fact that I'd only get to do this once. I got the Empire State building. I got street vendors. I got people going about their lives. And I spent at least a third of the roll on the Flatiron, that gorgeous building that is my favorite in the world. Shooting that roll felt bittersweet, like falling in love with someone who is about to leave the country. I'm sorry I never got a chance to really know it as well as others have, but I'm grateful for the one roll that I shot.
People have thrown out the phrase "end of an era" a lot when talking about Kodachrome. Collectively, for decades, our photographic memories have been shot in Kodachrome--those gorgeous tones immediately spring to mind when we think back on familiar images. Kodachrome was the best, and the best used Kodachrome, and we've lost that now.
New York City Street, photo by Erin McCann
Expired in 1975. Shot in October 2010.
Pat Padua -
I used Kodachrome for the color and stability - I probably shot a roll or two in the 80's but forgot about it until I took up photography again about ten years ago. I'll remember the trips I took shooting Kodachrome. I've taken it on trips to New York and Florida, but I think I'll best remember it in places like Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which I had never even heard of two weeks before I went there.
I've also picked up some amazing Kodachromes at flea markets and on eBay - my best find was in an antique shop in the Ozarks, where I found three boxes that still had the original postmark from the lab - April 1942 - and were addressed to a little town in Virginia called Hopewell.
Wish you were here
From a batch of assorted Florida slides I got on eBay. this is dated March '63. breathtaking. Photographer unknown.
Katherine Ray -
I've only actually shot one roll of Kodachrome - I bought five, but only shot one (gave some away, and still have half a roll in my Pentax...).
Ad Surveys Her Kingdom, photo by Katherine Ray
It was when I drove across the country last year - I knew I was going to be at the Grand Canyon, and thought that, of all films, I absolutely HAD to use Kodachrome. As much as I love Velvia, I think Kodachrome was the right film to use on this trip - because it could pick up the browns and reds of the canyon and give me natural colors instead of Fuji's over-saturated blues.
Grand Canyon 3, photo by Katherine Ray
Barry Schmetter -
I started using Kodachrome when I was a kid in the 70's. At that time, if you were serious about color photography, you shot Kodachrome. Unlike today, when you can easily manipulate the color palette of an image digitally--the type of film you shot had a big influence on how your image looked. Kodachrome had a great look, a beautiful palette. With a little underexposure, you could really saturate the colors. It's so easy today to get a saturated vivid look, we take it for granted, but back then Kodachrome did the job and no other film came close. Popular photographers at the time, like Pete Turner and Jay Maisel and the shooters for National Geographic, all shot Kodachrome for the rich colors.
Growing up, most of our family vacation photos were taken on Kodachrome. Post-vacation depression would disappear instantly when we lowered the lights and started projecting our trip slides. The rich brilliant images usually looked better than the actual trip. We'd linger over the little details we missed.
Because Kodachrome required special processing there were never many processing plants, but there was one in Rockville, Maryland. I used to drop my film off and pick it up the next day. You never knew which well-known photographer you were going to run into - everyone came to get their Kodachrome processed there. Opening up a freshly processed and mounted roll of Kodachrome was always a great experience. The film had a certain smell when the box was opened - I'll never forget that, it was a great smell. I couldn't wait until I got home to look at my slides, so I opened the box in my car and sat in the parking lot, holding my slides up to the window to see if I'd nailed my shots.
Kodachrome had a pretty good run, starting in the 1930's to today. Kodak used to run it's Kodachrome production line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's hard to imagine the volume of Kodachrome they used to sell, but the production runs became so infrequent, the economics didn't work anymore. Kodachrome may be gone, but the pictures are very much alive.
I didn't truly appreciate it until I saw an Exhibit at the LOC a few years ago of very early color photos. It was at that point when I started to realize how pervasive the stuff has been and how I had taken it for granted growing up seeing it in stacks of National Geographic, and that's why I jumped on the chance to buy up a bunch when they announced it was going away, I guess I wanted to add to the story before it was gone.
I bought 15 rolls when I heard it was discontinued and shot 14, the last six of them two days before the deadline -- hopefully they made it to Dwayne's in time.
John’s Kodachrome and SLR ready to shoot
Jennifer Wade -
I was first introduced to Kodachrome as a kid, watching my grandpa show me slides from his various trips around the world, and of my mom and her brothers. I fell in love with slide format at that point, that you could take this tiny see-though picture and project it on the wall in beautiful color. As I got older, I started to recognize the difference in the richness of color of the Kodachrome compared to everything else. The reds are so deep, the yellows like nothing I've ever seen. As an adult, what I most love about the Kodachrome is how it captures (err, capturED) light. The dynamic range of the highlights and shadows are unreal, without sacrificing or washing out color, so the richness just adds to the beauty of the light, even in dim places. This is especially great for portraits, I think:
My mom in 1959, bright sun (taken by my grandfather Alan Wade):
James Darling in 2010, dim restaurant at dusk (taken by me):
What I am finding is that, as I look through the photos taken by my friends and elsewhere online as I learn about its characteristics, I do in fact recognize the “look” of Kodachrome - it simply has a look that is familiar to me. Although I did not use it myself, I did have a National Geographic subscription and I did read photography books, studying the photos of Europe and other countries I wanted to visit and photograph someday. I simply did not know it was Kodachrome on which these images were captured, and I feel a little sad that I never thought more about it and missed the opportunity.
I hope you like this series, because I’m not finished. Part three is next week!
Drawing one-point perspective is an easy skill to learn with impressive results. By following a few rules, you can easily create realistic depth while drawing both interior and exterior spaces. "One-point" means there is one vanishing point, or one spot on the horizon towards which all vertical lines converge, while the horizontal lines remain parallel. Think of looking down railroad tracks: as the tracks approach the horizon, the metal rails appear closer to one another until the edges appear to touch, while the wooden planks stay parallel. The spot where the edges touch, even if it is out of view, is the vanishing point.
The first step to drawing one-point perspective is to draw the horizon line and place the vanishing point. Sometimes the horizon and vanishing point aren't visible, like if you're drawing an interior space, but it's still important to know where they are.
Above is an example of a transparant box, but many of the objects you'll draw, such as buildings, will be opaque, like in the example below.Now that you have the basics, try adding more rectangles to the composition.
One of the most famous examples of one-point perspective is Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper, 1494-1498. Notice how all of the lines converge towards Christ's head. Leonardo used the one-point perspective technique to give the interior space depth, but also to direct the viewer's eye towards an important part of the image.