Monday, February 20, 2012

Very Large Furniture - Archtectural Artifacts, Post 8

So some of the pieces in this place were just plain huge. And ridiculously old.

This is a pair of old French mirrors.  Very old, very huge - I'm guessing around ten feet tall - and I totally can't figure out who would buy these things.  I can't think of a decor used today that these would go with even a little bit.

(And yes, that's a camera obscured self-portrait.)

 Adding to the "seriously, who is the intended market for these things?" is this:  The $14,000 price tag.  My *car* cost just a bit more than that when it was brand new.  These are mirrors.  And again, I appreciate 'old/antique'.  I appreciate various aesthetics.  But I just can't see integrating these things into a house.  I keep thinking something like this should be in a museum or historical-society home that no one lives in but school kids tour six or eight times a day.
Next to the huge, old mirrors was this massive vertical file.  It was about six feet tall and maybe eight feet wide.  It would take up most of a wall.  I can't imagine it wasn't made for library use or maybe an office that needed to store a ton of records before computers were invented.

But I'm pretty sure it was used in someone's house before coming to AA.

 The original tags are all numbers or ranges of numbers.  Like Dewey decimal numbers or inventory numbers.  But apparently the last owner was a collector of certain toys and oddities.  This shot shows that what used to hold something labeled "893 - 895" last held Tab Bottles.  Anyone else around here old enough to remember the soft drink Tab?  Came in pink cans before it came off the market.  Came in bottles with pink labels before that.  My mom used to drink it and a friend of mine who lived in Tennessee used to on very regular hunts to find the stuff once it was discontinued.

This row held 1981 Happy Meal Toys.  Specifically Miss Piggy and Kermit toys.  The middle drawer had  1985 Camp Snoopy toys and the far right drawer had the 1977 action series glasses.  Again... am I the only one old enough to remember when you could get glass glasses from McDonald's?  We had a whole set of them when I was growing up.  Hamburgler, Grimace, Ronald, Mayor McCheese...  What was up with McDonald's not having any female characters?

This one says "1935 Hot Wheels" but I'm pretty sure the number and the item have nothing to do with each other.  First of all, Hot Wheels started producing cars around the same time I was born... roughly 1972.  But also, the black numbers seem to be the original labeling while the fading red marker seems to go with the latest owner's collecting.

 The part of me who wants to be WAY more organized than I am, would love to have something like this where I could label things and have a place for everything and everything in its place.  But at $2400 (and with a walk-up apartment that's on the 4th floor), this isn't the way I'll be doing it any time soon. :)

I also have to wonder about the owners/managers labeling a given item as "cool" (see the top left corner of the tag.)  Does that mean that anything they don't label *isn't* cool?  Should we not buy something not labeled 'cool' for fear of being uncool?  And who are they to decide whether or not something is cool or not for everyone.  And that's really what it meant.  There were several signs around the warehouse that had this on it.  It wasn't a weird inventory number or anything.  It really is just telling you "this thing is awesome... at least someone around here thinks so."  Weird.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Now I Feel Old - Architectural Artifacts, Post 7

These shots are all from one display.  It wasn't the easiest place to shoot because all the boxes were in a glass display case in a ridiculously dark corner of the place.

This is how I remember Tide looking when I was a kid.  Given my absolutely *stupid* skin problems, I've had to keep the same detergent for most of my life, so I've seen Tide go through more than a few changes in packaging.  Though I don't know anyone today who would get worked up about 3 cents off a box of laundry soap today, that would probably cost around $10.00 for the same weight.

Here's most of the display.  Some of the things printed on the boxes then would just not be okay in anyway today.  I know a lot of them are over 50 years old, but still... Specifically, look at the box about two-thirds up on the left hand side.  That picture would *never* play in the 21st century.

And also, just because I'm on a Sherlock Holmes kick right now, I keep reading that light blue one almost in the middle as "Lestrade".  But that would be different. )

This sign baffles me.  The sign is made of aluminum or tin and is perfectly preserved in a nice wooden frame.  So clearly it has some value to someone.  But I cannot find thing one about Polly Stamps on the internet.  I can find another piece of advertising - some clocks on eBay - but that's it.  Anyone know the history of these mystery "Polly Stamps"?  I can find that they were some sort of trading stamps, but I can't find a decade or any kind if info article anywhere.  All that seems to have survived is their various advertising mechanisms.  Weirdness.

And this last bit.  There was a large wall clock down where my group gathered, so I was doing a few test shots to test the light and such.  I isolated a bit of it because I'm interested in what appears to be some kind of water damage.  Like the face got rained on.  Which is odd, right?  Because there's glass on the clock itself if it was hung outside or something.  And if it was in a flood or other environment where the clock was submerged, it certainly wouldn't show *spots*.  The clock is marked with "New Haven Clock Company, New Haven, Conn." right under the hand visible in the photo.  Apparently this company made clocks between 1853 and 1902 under this name.  Apparently in 1902 it was reorganized, but still made clocks until World War II, at which point the company switched over to producing goods for the war.  They went back to clocks and watches once the war ended, but they folded completely in 1960.  So... old clock!

Also, I'm discovering that Blogspot is doing weird things with posting and not posting some of my articles.  I'm seeing that some weird things are happening with titles.  I'm going to go in and play with things and try to make it behave, but if you see something weird, I'd love a comment telling me what's gone wonky. Thanks!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Going Globe-l - Architectural Artifacts, Post 6

I spent an inordinate amount of time tinkering with this old globe.

When I started shooting it, it was up on a shelf in the window.  Obviously the problem with that is that it leaves the globe backlit.  So I moved it to the floor.  Which had the incredibly odd problem of the floor being the same shade of aqua as the water on the globe.  Also, weirdly, apparently globes are shinier than you'd think.  As matte as they look when you're looking at them, they have a nasty glare when you try to use the flash.

Anyway, if you look at this globe, you can see that it's more than just a few decades old.  Even with the current changes in certain political regions, it's been quite a while since most of northern Africa was one large political body called "French West Africa".  I loved to look at maps and globes as a kid.  I remember being ridiculously excited when I got a political map of the world for my wall when I was in about third grade.  And while a fair number of the African nations I learned from that map are no longer either in existence or going by the name they had in the late 70's, I don't remember "French West Africa."

You can also see at the top that most of eastern Europe is bright orange.  It's labeled USSR.  Now *that* was on my map in third grade.

So I got on a bit of History Hunt.  When was this globe made? 

I couldn't find *anywhere* that listed a copyright date.  I found the map maker and where it was made (go, Chicago), but I couldn't find anywhere what year this globe was made.

So I started shooting regions I knew went through changes between the time the USSR was formed and dissolved.

One clue was that Vietnam is still two countries.  It's the purple and green countries on the left hand side of the shot, under China (the big yellow one).  So that means we're sometime after 1955 and before the two were reunified after the Vietnam War ended in 1976.
Also of note, East and West Germany.  Though they were separated from 1950 until 1990, so that actually widens our time frame.

So I went back to map of Africa, knowing that there was a lot of change over a short time there.  The smallest detail caught my attention first.

 The little yellow country I've drawn an arrow to is listed as Río Muni.  I wasn't able to find a lot about this region other than the Wikipedia article that said: Río Muni became a province of Spanish Guinea along with Bioko in 1959.  I couldn't find *anything* that listed it as ever being an independent country, the way it's shown here.

What I did find in this same region was that if you find Gambia, there was a city-name change in 1973.  Bathurst is renamed Banjul.  On this map it's still Bathurst.  Which lets me know, at the very least, this map is older than I am. :p

In further poking I find that The Ivory Coast was liberated from French control in 1960.  So now we're somewhere between 1955 and 1960.

Ghana was made an independent country in 1957 and it's already here as its own country.  So we're between 1957 and 1960.

Also in 1960, the area to the west and at the top of the map, is marked as Senegal, but still shown as part of French West Africa.  In 1960 Senegal and Mali form a union and become independent, but the union collapses before the end of the year, leaving Senegal as a new country.

So... after all this, I'm guessing this globe was made to reflect the best information the mapmaker had in 1960.

I'm not sure if they moved fast enough that the new cartography could be done and the globes printed and assembled within the year.  It's possible this is the political distribution of 1960, but the globe may not have been actually produced until 1961 or '62 or whatever.  It's also possible that for something like this - clearly a school globe of general information - that they may not reprint or reformat every single year.  It might have been made in 1963 because there wasn't any 'significant' - and I mean 'significant' to the American mentality of the time - changes that needed to be reflected yet.

So... yeah, this is what I do on a Saturday afternoon.  I troll through history trying to figure out inconsequential things like, "When was this globe made?"  :)  It keeps me off the streets.  (Especially when the streets are covered with snow this morning and are only about 10 degrees F. )

Friday, February 10, 2012

Going to the Crystal Ball - Architectural Artifacts, Post 5

There was this huge dining-style table upstairs that was completely covered in strands and random bits of crystal that, I assume, came off chandeliers and other fancy-pants decorations from days gone by.

Crystal Commotion
The good news was there was an old 1920's style bar set right across the aisle from it.  Which meant that I could prop my camera up on it to do some long exposure work.  Even with tinkering with the color both in the camera in in post they still seem a little more yellow than they were in real life.  Again, really lousy incandescent lights.  But still... very pretty and shiny.

Crystal Close-up
Here's a bit a little closer, taken with my macro lens.  Shooting crystals, even when the light isn't great, is tough because you have light bouncing off the facets and different shapes at all kinds of weird angles and at various intensities.
There were some dark brown and more amberish crystals tossed into the mix.  They made the light metering tough because there was no longer a uniform coloring or a uniform depth to the shots.

If I ever go back, I'll probably try to pull out one or just a few and do some isolated shots with them.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Miles of Tiles - Archetectural Artifacts, Post 4

Okay, finally getting out of the loos.

Like I said before, this place takes pieces of buildings and resells them. There were racks and racks of ceramic and stone tiles to use in bathrooms or kitchen backsplashes or as decoration around fireplaces.

Miles of Tiles
As I mentioned, we couldn't use tripods, so doing a narrow aperture with a long shutter wasn't an option nearly as often as I wanted it to be.  For this one, I was able to take one tile, set it on top of the first row of tiles, tilt my camera against it, set a two second timer (so I wouldn't jostle it) and let it go.  This is actually a 15 second exposure at f20.

Piles of Tiles that Traveled for Miles
As you can see there are whole sets of tiles, just in case you're thinking of redoing your shower.  On the flip side, they aren't cheap.  I'm kind of curious how they end up with tons and tons of English tiles, purchased in Argentina and then resold in Chicago. They *look* mass-produced, but I don't know much about antique tiles, so maybe I'm wrong.

Old Orchid Ornaments
These are the ones that really break my brain.  They look so much like the kind of thing I could have made (and others did for that matter) in my park district ceramics lab.

 $75 a linear foot.  Each tile is a little more than a foot long.  So they're roughly $100 each.  They say 'glass', but they seemed like ceramic to me.  I do find it interesting that they still have some of the grout/cement on the edges from their last home.  I'd imagine whoever buys these $100 tiles will have to somehow scrape all that off without damaging the piece.  Good luck with that.

Seriously Expensive Cermaic Stripes

Now this boggles my brain.  It's roughly an 8 inch square ceramic tile wiht some raised stripes, underglazed in teal and then washed down a bit and then overglazed in clear.  I know exactly how this was done.  I'm pretty sure that with the right materials I could do this exact piece.  $65.  Really?  And there's no more data readily available, like this came out of some French palace or something that would give the simple tile a better 'pedigree'.

Earthquake Survivors?
These were over $100 each.  And I get it, in that they're hand drawn tiles.  BUT, they're all cracked and broken, chipped and dirty.  I'd love to see how they'd somehow end up getting used, because none of them are exactly square any more and many of them have cracks running through them, like in the lower left hand corner.  The one on the right doesn't even have the image centered on the tile.  So, they're interesting, but I'm not sure how they'll sell, because I'm not sure how they become reusable.

Okay, tomorrow, the coolest table full of crystal bits ever.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lest the Women's Room Feel Left Out - Architectural Artifacts, Post 3

Okay, so... back on track today.  Back to the bathrooms at Architectural Artifacts.

So the women's room was about as interesting as the men's.  Slightly less with the massive amounts of toilet paper (which, seemed a little bass-ackwards to me, but so be it).

Front of the Door

Most of them are pretty straight forward. I still find "females" an interesting label.  Also, like the men's room 'engineer' and stuff, I find it interesting that "Hospital toilet" is determined to be a woman's domain.  Also, why would you ever have to label it as a "hospital toilet"?  I mean, if it's in the hospital... isn't it a given that it's a hospital toilet?  If it's from (as it kind of seems to me) a military ship or something, why do you need to denote that it's the *hospital* toilet and not just, you know, the toilet in that part of the ship.  Who cares where it is, as long as it's a toilet, right?  I don't even...
More signs on the inside.  Nothing amazingly interesting.  Other than the fact that the room is so small, that I couldn't even, with my smallest lens, pull back far enough to get all the signs in one shot.

 So here's the rest of them.  Again, nothing drastically entertaining or weird or anything.  Just a whole lot of signs telling you where you are.  (As if the big porcelain 'chair' in the corner wasn't a big enough clue ;).

Reflections of a bathroom sign (or a few)
There was a large mirror on the wall opposite the actual toilet.  Not tilted far enough that you could see yourself from there (because that would just be disturbing), but it lets you see the signs above where you're sitting. Only, you know, they're in a mirror, so they're backwards.  It was all just a bit odd.

Here are those signs the right way around.  I do like the "Queens" sign.  That's a nice change of pace. :)  Also, next to it?  Probably the largest span of unused wall space in the entirety of the operation.  And this place is massive.

And just very quickly, while I know I've discussed this before, this is a great place to stop and look at White Correction.  I didn't realize how yellow the incandescent lights were in the bathrooms when I was shooting, so I didn't change the setting. I manually corrected it in the version above, but a post-production color correction, in my opinion, is never quite as good as capturing it right in the first place.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A rough 24 hours in my animal world

I don't talk about my own animals much in this blog.  I think the last time I brought up my ferrets was when Magick passed away almost a year and a half ago.  Well, last Tuesday, I lost the last of my original "business" (Business being the collective noun for ferrets - like a herd of cows or a pack of wolves or a murder of crows.)  Gaia was 7 1/3 years old and had two different cancers for the last two years of her life.  The high protein diet she had to be on to keep one of the cancers in check pretty much destroyed her kidneys, which was what ultimately brought her down.  I got her when she was about six months old (which is an estimate, since all my ferrets are rescues from the Greater Chicago Ferret Association and we don't have her initial paperwork).  But given the best estimates the vets could come up with, we decided that she and I shared a birthday.
Gaia ferret - 9.27.2004 - 1.31.2012

Given that she was so young when I got her, and that she was at least three years younger than Magick and Spirit - the first two ferrets I ever adopted - she was always known as 'the baby'.  Even at the end, when the two new ferrets she was sharing a cage with were less than half her age.

This is one of the earliest shots I have of her. You can still see some of her baby-shape in the pudginess of her back legs and bottom.  And how short her nose is.
She was the last of the original business as seen here, moving into their new and improved cage.  From left to right, Gaia, Spirit and Magick.

In less personal news, one of the "Mane Attractions" at the Lincoln Park Zoo has also passed away.  If you come in through the main gates to the zoo, one of the first exhibits you see is the outdoor lion habitat.  And usually, sunning himself on a large rock in the middle of the exhibit would be the male lion, Adelor.  He was put down yesterday due to very, very poor health.  He was 18 years old.  According to the news reports, most lions only make it to 14, the oldest captive lion was 26 when he died.  It strikes me as odd that such a huge, strong animal should have such a short lifespan, especially in captivity where he isn't being preyed on.

Adelor had an extremely impressive roar.  You could be at the other end of the park and hear him when he felt like letting you know he was around.  If you were near the rail of the exhibit when he let loose, you could feel the vibrations of the sound go right through you.

Anyway, here's Adelon welcoming people to the zoo.

Rest in peace our beloved carnivores, big and small.