(Above: A Family, Ten of eleven altered, antique tintypes. Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)
I suppose it is most fitting that I'm spending Memorial Day weekend with my collection of anonymous photos. These forgotten faces just seem to look up toward me, begging to be remembered even if the words I select are the furthest from their truths. Who would know if one of these ladies had a sister or was an aunt or became a grandmother? Who would know if one of the gentlemen was an uncle? It doesn't matter exactly. What is important is that I'm giving them words that suggest a life they undoubtedly did live. Generally tintypes are sold separately at auction and bring more money than I'm willing to pay ... even though no one knows the identity of these people at the time. Fortunately, some of the boxes of old photos I've bought did include one or two tintypes. I knew I had a few. I didn't know I had eleven of them. Three did not come with the original paper mounts. I was able to fashion mounts using some of the discarded paper carriers that surrounded many of my later, though vintage, photos. Some were rather well worn and fragile. I glued paper from one of the scrapbooks I used earlier in the month. Thus, everything is "old" ... even if it isn't original. I don't know why "Favorite Uncle" didn't get in this shot. That's the eleventh image. I'll likely place this little collection in its own box or fabric pouch. I haven't decided yet, but one way or the other, I'm calling this set A Family.
(Above: Best and Dearest, an altered vintage photo album. Shut: 5 3/4" x 8 1/4".)
Last week I purchased a couple vintage photo albums at the cooperative antique mall that is literally in the next block from my art residency studio. This small one had never been used. I took it apart in order to quickly collage all the pages. Each one was then ironed (very cool setting), waxed and rubbed, and put back into the covers. Overnight, it sat under weights. All the pages are further below. It was a particularly fun piece to create because it allowed me to select images that truly suggested a special day, a story, a moment captured ... not just the people inside the frame. Some of the events just had to be grand! Just scroll down.
(Above: Anonymous Ancestors, altered vintage photo album. Shut: 8 3/4" x 12 3/4".)
This was one of the other old photo albums purchased last week. Half the pages had early 1950s celebrity news clippings rubber cemented to them. I thought about collaging over top of the existing articles but rubber cement isn't a lasting adhesive. Some of the articles were falling off. Some were still firmly in place. In the end, I gutted the used pages and made replacements using new, white paper. The numbers worked out perfectly for every other page to be either black or white.
(Above: Anonymous Ancestors, title page.)
Last Friday I received three, 1940s issues of Fortune Magazine. I really needed more Ls and Is and a couple other letters. One copy was taken apart and letters were cut into my trays. I noticed that lots of the advertisements included a tomato red color. Thus, this red covered photo album uses primarily red letters.
I also decided that instead of always putting the man first, I'd put the woman first. Why is it that in popular speech we say, "Husband and Wife" and "Grandpa and Grandma" and "Son and Daughter"? This piece, like A Family, allowed me to think about who these people were, what roles they might have had in life.
So ... for the rest of this blog post are the pages from Anonymous Ancestors followed by Best and Dearest. Enjoy!
(Above: Anonymous Ancestors, Brother.)
(Above: Best and Dearest, cover.)