Thursday, September 27, 2012

My SX-70 Land Camera + 1972 Eames Ad = Nostalgia

My favorite piece in my small but well-loved Eames collection was not actually made directly by the Eames' at all:

It is a Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera.  Mine is an Alpha 1 series produced around 1977 that retailed at the time for about $233.00. It is finished in leather and chrome, has an attached leather strap, and a screw mount to allow attachment to a tripod.  It's in excellent physical condition, although you can see that it does have a little scratch on the front.

It came with an original leather Polaroid case, with suede interior, and an instruction card demonstrating how to pack the case, but unfortunately I do not have an instruction booklet:

This was a super-popular camera in the 1970s despite the high-end price tag, as the SX-70 camera was a significant technological achievement in internal and external design:

It was also the very first camera to use Polaroid's integral film, or film that developed on its own, without help from the photographer to time the development or peel the negative apart from the positive.

I bought this camera in 2005.  Unfortunately I had very little time to play with it before Polaroid phased out the Time Zero film that it requires to work (phased out in December 2005, sold out everywhere in March 2006).  I had hoped to try doing some Polaroid manipulation (watch this cool video if you want to know more about it), but as it turned out, this camera needs some internal work as some of my photos would develop properly, and others had a shadow across the final developed image. So sad!

Then I found out that the Impossible Project actually purchased a Polaroid film manufacturing plant and in 2008 began producing PX 70 Color Shade film that will work with my camera, but at only eight exposures for $23.00(!) I haven't been too keen to purchase such a high-priced film knowing that my camera needs a little restoration work. 

So where do the Eames' fit into this story?  In 1972, Charles and Ray Eames produced a wonderfully nostalgic ten minute film to advertise the camera, and includes a fascinating section about how the camera and film actually work. The ad has the Eames' stamp all over it:  the work is unhurried, whimsical, multicultural, and fun.  I enjoy watching this short film/ad just for the pleasure of enjoying Ray Eames' set design.

The film starts off a little slow, so if you'd like skip the first boring minute or so about Alfred Stieglitz and Edwin Land, the founder of Polaroid and maker of the Land camera (hence the name!) and jump in at about 1 minute 9 seconds to see the action of the camera:

The camera has a cult following today, and people are still manipulating their Polaroid photos.  If you'd like to see more, follow this link to the Polaroid SX-70 Manipulation group at Flickr.

What do you think, dear readers?  Is the SX-70 still cool 40 years later?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: The Fall Style Story

"The fashion world took quite a hammering this season.  It looked for a while as though we were doomed to appear with skimpy, drooping shoulders; skimpy, no-stride skirts, and all kinds of uncompromising lines....  But, as usual, designers propose and customers dispose, in the good old democratic way, so today we have a 1941 silhouette that makes sense."

Click on the photos to enlarge The Fall Style Story, courtesy Woman's Day, October 1941.

"Long jacket, low set-in belt, wide lapels all point the way to a new trend in suits this autumn. 
Two-piece suit from Davidow."

"Kimono sleeves and slim skirt stamp this fitted topcoat and classic wool dress
as new 1941.  Ensemble designed by Charles Armour."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crafting Update

This week I was able to finish up a couple of projects that I thought I'd share with you.  First, I finished a second Spa Necessities scrubbie like the one that I showed you in a previous post, along with an accompanying washcloth:

Scrubbie and Washcloth, Spa Necessities, Serendipity Handmade blog
This time I used the suggested type of yarn for the project, a 25% acrylic and 75% cotton blend (I used some Aunt Lydia's Denim that I had in my stash) and I think that the results turned out much better, as the yarn has more elasticity.

Did you know that I'm at Ravelry?  I post my finished projects there as well.  You're welcome to connect with me there.
And thanks to a good friend I've recently become addicted to making beaded bracelets:

Beading, Serendipity Handmade blog
Right now I know very little about jewelry making; these are just beads strung on stretch cording.  But it is so satisfying to make something pretty in a short amount of time and be able to wear it right away!  This one is my favorite so far:

Autumn Beaded Bracelet, Serendipity Handmade blog

I haven't been sewing at all lately.  It's been so hot here in SoCal that sitting at a sewing machine with a pile of fabric on my lap hasn't appealed to me in the least.  Though I've been thinking about finishing my Pauloa Kekahi angel-back muu muu project  that I started ages ago (it is still raging hot here in Southern California, so no worries that summer is now officially over).

So that's it for now, dear readers. What projects are you working on?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Conquer Fat Forever!

Just started a new diet today.

It's 2012.  Why hasn't a pill that actually works been invented yet?

Doctor's Pill ad, Madison Avenue Monday, Serendipity Handmade
From McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Fall 1977

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles: Eames Postal Stamps

Today we have a Charles and Ray Eames themed edition of Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles.

In June 2008 the United State Postal Service issued a pane of 16 stamps celebrating the Eames designs: 

Eames Stamps, June 2008

I am not normally a stamp collector but being an Eames devotee I had to have these!  I have two sets just like the one that you see above, and I also have a First Day of Issue Cover (or First Day Cover).  These stamps are mounted on an envelope or postcard and franked (cancelled) on the very first day the stamp is authorized for use:

First Day of Issue Cover, Eames Stamps, June 2008

This sheet of stamps has never been in actual circulation, meaning that they were not cancelled on an actual mailed envelope.  They are not as valuable as those that have actually been mailed.  But first day of issue covers tend to be valuable to collectors, and some collect them exclusively, so I decided to purchase a set.

I also wanted to see the pictorial cancellation for this set, meaning the special picture chosen for the first day of issue stamping and I wasn't disappointed:

La Chaise First Day of Issue Frank, Eames Stamps

It is the La Chaise chair, designed by Charles and Ray in 1948.  It was actually too expensive to mass produce for nearly 50 years.  La Chaise didn't go into actual production until the 1990s.

Click on this link to see photos of the actual first day of issue event that was held in Santa Monica, California.  It was attended by Charles' daughter, Lucia Eames, and her fourth son, Eames Demetrios, who together head Eames Office.   Note that they were autographing the stamp panes as well.

Eames stamps are still readily available at low prices if you are interested in picking up your own set.  These stamps make great framed art; I have a set decorating my office!

I hope that you enjoyed this edition of Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles, and if you did, please leave a comment!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday

Drive a taxi.  Or just look like one.  Loomskill fabric, coming soon to a store near you (in Summer 1970, that is)!

From McCall's Patterns Fashions, Summer 1970

Saturday, September 8, 2012

How I Fell in Love With Mid-Century Art and Design, Part II

So were the photos in my last post a little too mysterious?!   
I won't keep you in suspense any longer!  The photos below are from are from the

 Mathematica: a World of Numbers and Beyond... 

exhibit designed by the fabulous and amazing 

 Charles and Ray Eames

My not-so-great photo of a copy of the exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston

Close-up, the Multiplication Machine. It is made up of 512 light bulbs
that help visually demonstrate multiplication topics.
Via Moey

Part of the Projective Geometry portion of the exhibit. 
Via the Exhibit Designer

Close-up Mobius Band. Viewers pressed a button to make the
motorized train (arrow) move around the band.
I loved to play with this.

Celestial Mechanics:  steel balls traveling around a vortex
was meant to demonstrate how planets move.
Via Exhibit Files.

Mathematica was commissioned by IBM and installed at the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the California Science Center) in 1961.  I used to visit this exhibit at least once or twice a year with my family and although I hate math it never failed to entertain (and educate) me.

Mathematica circa 1961. Note the History Wall in the background.
This was the first major exhibit of fourteen designed by the Eames and it is the only one that still exists! It is the first interactive exhibit devoted to math and topics include probability, topology, Boolean algebra, geometry, calculus, and logic.  Not exactly my usual area of interest!

I have fond memories of this exhibit.  Mathematica was my first exposure to Charles and Ray Eames' joie de vivre and although it may seem far-fetched, the Eames' are truly at the root of my love for mid-century art and design.  Yes, I've been their devotee since childhood. 

A short rant:  the exhibit remained at the California Science Center until 1998 when the museum made a idiotic horrific major mistake and it was removed.  As you may know, the Eames' were based out of Los Angeles:  their studio was in Venice and Eames House is in Pacific Palisades.  To this day I am still appalled that a priceless and influential part of this region's history was sold to another museum.

The original exhibit was acquired by the New York Hall of Science and has been on display since 2004.  A duplicate copy is currently on display at the Museum of Science in Boston, and I went to see it some years ago.   It was wonderful to see the exhibit again but you probably understand that the experience wasn't quite the same.

If you live in Boston or New York do yourself a favor and go visit this exhibit. There is another copy in Atlanta but its display status is currently unknown.  In the Los Angeles area you can see two of the Atlanta exhibit's interactive stars, Celestial Mechanics and the Probability Machine, on display at Eames Office in Santa Monica.

via Apple

You can also experience a little of this exhibit without leaving your house.  If you have an iPad you can install the Minds of Modern Mathematics app.  It is based on the exhibit History Wall and documents the major players in the evolution of mathematics over the last 1,000 years.  You can see it in action here if you don't have an iPad

Anyhoo, I declare it Eames Month around here for no other reason than I get to talk about my favorite duo and show off my rather small but well-loved Eames collection.   I hope you enjoyed this little peek at Mathematica.  There will be more Eames-related goodness to come!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How I Fell in Love with Mid-Century Art and Design

We just had a long holiday weekend here and that gave me some time to sort through a messy box of photographs.

A certain photo from my childhood, too underexposed and blurry to share here, caused me to think about the root of my love of mid-century design. Where did it begin? A certain place, a certain designer started it all.

So just for fun, dear readers, leave a comment if you recognize these photographs:

To be continued.... 

Note:  photo credits here.