August Break - NYC

You never know who you'll see walking down 5th Avenue in NYC. Saw this guy at the end of June and lo and behold, saw him again in August in another 'hood when I was back for ALTNYC. Everybody's making their mark in the Big Apple. HE'S even inspiring.

I suppose TECHNICALLY this should be the LAST August Break post (still time for you to take part at least ONCE) but I don't feel like summer is REALLY over til the girl is in grade 2. That'll be next Wednesday at 8:25am sharp.

In between now and then it's a long weekend with another trip to the fair (pig races seen, more rollercoasters on order). And coffee with the Ravenna Girls (huzzah for bloggers getting together in the meat world). A hike or two, some biking on the seawall with the girl and her new bike. The usual weekend-y activities around here.

Add in more than a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad. Started it last night. If it wasn't for the girl, we'd be watching it non-stop all weekend long. I suppose that makes here our Breaking Bad sponsor.

And just in case you don't believe me about the pig races, here you go.

Instagram before there was instagram

Whenever I am in NYC I scan the museum and gallery listings to see what photography exhibits are on offer. This past weekend after I was done with ALTNYC (post to come, I promise!), I zoomed up 5th Avenue at 103rd Street to the Museum of the City of New York to see London Street Photography.

Photography + history -- bless my little geeky heart, I was in heaven.

You know that I'm just learning how to photograph, right? Well my next adventure is satisfying my desire for the spontaneity that is street photography. 

At either end of our two weeks of cottaging, we spent a few days in Toronto getting our fix of the gritty city. One of those days was spent at the Junction Flea. Modelled of course after the Brooklyn Flea, the Junction Flea is a perfect Toronto version. 

Except of course for the hipster couple standing on the sidelines judging everyone else's outfits as they walked by. Well, the Judgy McJudgersons got a bit of a Raincoast Cottage smackdown when I, sotto voce of course, told them that "everyone that morning put on an outfit that looked good to them so lay off". 

But Sandra, you ask, what does the Flea have to do with street photography? Stay with me people, I'm getting there.

While at the Flea we had a photo taken of the girl. Not just ANY photo - a tintype. 

So now we have photography + history + access. Yes, people, what also warms my heart is anything like Instagram that puts something that used to be exclusive into the hands of the people. And tintypes were THAT back in the 1850's. They were cheap, fast, and didn't need a negative. The photos could be cut up into various sizes and they were hardy - they could be mailed and taken about.

For the first time photography was available to the working classes. For the first time instead of stiff, formal photos, we had relaxed and spontaneous ones. For the first time we had photos of regular folk. And for the first time, just like Instagram, we had a range in quality of photos. I wonder what the tintype version of the Instagram latte was?

Here's the girl. The tintype is about 3x2".

The photograph was taken by The Tintype Studio who like their predecessors 160 years ago set up at fairs and fleas and carnivals purveying their craft. For paid work during the week they are modern photographers but for fun, it's tintypes on the weekends. Love anyone who carries on an old tradition.

How about you? Any old school crafts or techniques that you want to learn or already do?

Photowalk Friday - Meatpacking District, NYC

What? Is this Lights and Letters, Leslie's blog? Isn't she the one who does Photowalk Fridays?

Yes my friends, she certainly IS the originator of the Photowalk Friday. But a few weeks ago when she posted about her photowalk in Chinatown, she added a few lines at the bottom giving an invitation to join her on her next photowalk. And me, knowing I'd be in NYC soon, jumped at the chance. Off went the email, a reply promptly received and we were set. And so here we are doing a tandem Photowalk Friday in the Meatpacking District of NYC. Me here and Leslie over there.

Although I have been to NYC many many times, I hadn't explored the far west side of Manhattan - the Meatpacking District. Think a little north and west of Greenwich Village but below Chelsea (home of my beloved Cafe Grumpy plus outposts of Trader Joe's and Whole Foods when I am wandering around). It was the perfect place for a photowalk.

Leslie has studied photography and taken photos for years. Being new to this she so generously offered to answer any questions that I had. Confession - I was too shy to ask!

So let's take a look at the Meatpacking District - or at least my version of it.



And here's lovely Leslie with whom I named "goat guy".

To walk around the Meatpacking District with her shooting photos was a wonderful collaboration. So generous - she drove in from 1 1/2 hours away AND her husband hung out with their cute boys while we did out thing. How nice is that?


One of the goals that I set when I started this blog was to build a creative community, to make new friends and share our creative interests. It's happening, people, it's definitely happening.

Thank you so much Leslie for that invitation! It made my looked-forward-to-fill-myself-up-creatively-annual-NYC-trip even that much more creative and fun. Inspiring...

NYC Inspired - DIY Pillow Tutorial

This last trip to NYC I had my camera of course. And what captured my imagination as I wandered about the Village and Chelsea and Soho were wrought iron railings. There are so many different shapes and patterns.

What I find inspiring about them is what they represent - a time in history when something as simple and utilitarian as a railing would be bent and twisted and shaped into something beautiful. A time when it was important not only to build something that worked but something that was lovely to see. Form DID follow function.

When I was looking at my photographs of wrought iron railings I felt inspired by their shapes. One in particular grabbed my imagination. This one.

What drew me to this particular wrought iron was its rough texture. You can see that over the years rather than sandpaper down the rust, it was just painted over and over until it became swollen and lumpy.

I also had a plain pillow that I had bought at ABC Carpet and Home and thought that I would marry the two. Here is what I did.

First I gathered together my materials - the pillow, freezer paper, my cutting board, a ruler and a knife. 

I drew a copy of the pattern by hand. I didn't want it to be perfectly in proportion as I wanted the pillow pattern to also have that rough, swollen, lumpy outline.

I cut out the stencil, ironed it on and painted it with opaque fabric paint. I brushed a thin layer from the outside edge inwards to minimize any paint seeping underneath the stencil. The paint went on looking quite greenish but dried more of a bronze colour. 

Have you worked with freezer paper before? It's so easy to use.

And here is the finished product. I am going to put it in the basement in the tv room. The entire room is an ongoing project that I'll share with you in a month or so - let's just say that the before is as bland as you can get. The ultimate in matchy-matchy.

I am pleased with how it turned out - it's a souvenir from my NYC trip that doesn't scream "tourist". And it's always inspiring to make something with your own hands, right?