Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meet Your Maker: EHL Creations

Love photography? We do, too! Meet Holiday Heist vendor Emily Landsman of EHL Creations and learn about the craft of Polaroid transfers.

•How did you first get into Polaroid transfering as your medium?
My photography teacher in high school first showed me the process. I was taking independent study art, so I didn't have a set plan for the year. My teacher encouraged me enter creative contests, try new techniques and experiment with the digital camera the school had just purchased in 1996. I stopped making prints about a year after that and picked it up again about three years ago.

Polaroid stopped making all instant film about a year ago, so the supplies we have now are very limited. We in the Polaroid community have our hopes set on THE IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT, a group of Dutch chemists and engineers who, with a number of investors, are working to reintroduce instant film by 2010. http://www.the-impossible-project.com/. I was able to visit them in the Netherlands two months ago. I put my story of the visit with photos on my web site at http://www.ehlcreations.com/.

I was just contacted by Save Polaroid Japan earlier this week. They saw my web site and asked if they could use some of the photos of the visit to let folks over there know about the project.

•How do Polaroid transfers work?
Image transfers are made by developing Polaroid pull-apart films on non-photographic surfaces, usually wet watercolor paper. I interrupt the development process after just a few seconds by placing the negative on the paper to continue developing, and then I toss the positive. I usually use 35mm slides and an enlarger that prints onto Polaroid film, but I sometimes use Polaroid cameras, too. Emulsion lifts are made by soaking fully dried photographs until the emulsion layer separates from the page. It can then be repositioned on almost any surface. I use watercolor paper and ceramic tiles, but I've seen them on all kinds of surfaces, even rocks!

I generally use a slide printer to make my transfer images, so I first select slides. I either use 35mm film or I will convert digital images to a slide at a photo processing location.

This is the slide printer (enlarger head) with a base for Polaroid 669 film. I also have a base for type 59 film.

I make most of my transfers on wet watercolor paper, so I soak the paper in hot water.

I print the image and then quickly separate the positive and negative. Here, I have pressed the negative on the paper with a brayer. The positive is pale and has little image and will be discarded.

After 90 to 120 seconds, peal back the negative and voila!

This is not always a simple process. I generally make two or three prints before getting it right. I leave them on the floor to dry overnight.

•What are your favourite subjects to photograph and transfer?
Flowers are always nice. They come out looking very delicate. I tend to like repeating images, a row of chairs, liquor bottles on a shelf, leaves. I'm good with still life and landscapes, but I'm working on my portrait skills!
Developing an eye has been an ongoing learning process. I think I've figured out what makes an interesting image.

•I couldn't help but notice how well received your work is at the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market. Congrats! How do you feel about the popularity of your labour of love?
Thanks! It's really quite flattering. I just started showing my work about a year ago, so I'm still new to taking compliments. I love photography and creating images, so it's really nice to know that other people appreciate the work I put into my prints. This is the first year I've applied to markets and fairs and some shows have been (much) better than others.

•Your work has a vintage feel. Is that intended?
It kind of comes with the transfer process. Because the photograph is separated in mid-development, some of the colors don't fully transfer and the image has a soft, dream-like etherial quality. I think the variable borders on each image also adds to that feel.

•Where can we find you and your wonderful work?
I just started tweeting (www.twitter.com/ehlcreations) a few months ago, but in that time I have developed some Twitter "friendships." I like to follow other Polaroid photographers, and I love it when they follow me! We trade info about Polaroid products and our latest images. It was also exciting to finally make it to 100 fans on Facebook so I could get my own user name! (www.facebook.com/ehlcreations) My full web site http://www.ehlcreations.com/ has lots of info on my prints, greeting cards, lifts, and my visit to IMPOSSIBLE B.V. in the Netherlands and upcoming shows, including Art on the Avenue on October 3 and the DC Craft Mafia Holiday Heist on November 21!

•What do you love the most about being an artist? How do you feel about the DC crafts scene?
I think DC has a pretty good craft scene...but I don't know too much about craft networks nationwide. Through my domestic travels for my day job I've been able to compare markets here and there, and I think we (in DC) lean more to the "craft" market and less to the "fine art" market.
I've met so many awesome people over the last few months through shows and events. Crafty Drinks was so much fun in July. It was really nice to chat with people who understand the satisfaction that comes from creating! Brainstorming different marketing opportunities, craft techniques and sharing our latest creations with each other has been really helpful. Plus, I have a bunch of new friends! I can't wait to meet up with everyone in September.

Thanks Em! We can't wait to see more of your work!


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