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Classic Colors: Japanese Hand-Colored Photos

Classic Colors: Japanese Hand-Colored Photos


I came across this wonderfully interesting Flickr set the other day. A selection of 49 hand-colored photos of Meiji-era MAIKO and GEISHA in swimsuit fashions of the time. The photos are from a collection of 150 from the Flickr user Okinawa Soba. Obviously, it was the colors that first grabbed my attention, but the discovery led me to look a little more into the history of hand-colored photos.

The popularity of hand-colored photos peaked in the late 1800's and early 1900's but fell from their standing due to the development of color film. They were especially popular in Japan.

Hand-Coloring

Hand-colouring refers to any of a number of methods of manually adding colour to a black-and-white photograph or other image to heighten its realism. Typically, water-colours, oils and other paints or dyes are applied to the image surface using brushes, fingers, cotton swabs or airbrushes. Some photographic genres, particularly landscapes and portraits, have been more often hand-coloured than others, and hand-coloured photographs have been popular enough that some firms specialised in producing them.

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Photo from Okinawa Soba

Until the middle of the 20th century, nearly all photography was monochrome – essentially black-and-white, as exemplified by the gelatin silver print. Some photographic processes inherently produced images with an overall colour as, for example, the blue of cyanotypes, and photographic processes were altered by various techniques to produce variations in tone

Swiss painter and printmaker Johann Baptist Isenring used a mixture of gum arabic and pigments to make the first coloured daguerreotype in 1840 or 1841. The coloured powder was fixed on the delicate surface of the daguerreotype by the application of heat. Variations of this technique were patented in England by Richard Beard in 1842 and in France by Étienne Lecchi in 1842 and Léotard de Leuze in 1845. Later, hand-colouring was used with successive photographic innovations, from albumen and gelatin silver prints to lantern slides and transparency photography.

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The Colorful Art of Paper Sculpture

The Colorful Art of Paper Sculpture


Each of the four artists featured today use paper in the most colorful ways. The meticulous nature and repetition necessary to work with paper, and create such detailed pieces, is a tribute to all the all the artists character and focus. From dissecting books and completely transforming them into something unexpected and new, to exploding (figuratively) the individual colors of a stack of construction paper, each artist gives us a new perspective on paper and color.

Ferry Staverman

 

Ferry Starvermen has created a colorful garden of sculptures crafted from recycled cardboard and string. Each sculpture is made with variations of the same color giving the piece a magnificent presence and depth, even more so with multiple sculptures displayed together.

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DIY Color: Dye It Yourself With Kool-Aid

DIY Color: Dye It Yourself With Kool-Aid


With the help of our friend Ana we're going to take you through some ways to use Kool-Aid as a colorful, affordable and environmentally safe dye.

Kool-Aid dyeing works best with animal fibers. Which means you can dye your hair but you might have trouble with your cotton t-shirts.

What You Will Need:

 

  • Kool-Aid, in as many colors as you can find (try looking in your kid's, or 'Nintendo loving' roommate's, drawers)
  • Microwave or stove
  • Containers to soak, bake and cool the yarn
  • A place to dry the yarn.

 

Getting Started

 

Let the yarn soak in a dish filled with lukewarm water and a squirt of dish soap for 30 minutes until soaked all the way through.

Remember: Cover your work surfaces to protect against staining by using plastic bags.

Combine 1/2 cup water to one packet of Kool-Aid and stir until smooth.

Use the proper tool for the job. The tennis racket cocktail stirrer served multiple uses. The stick-end was used to stir up the KoolAid dye mixtures and the racket-end was great for scooping the test mini-skeins out of the hot water.

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Confectionery Colors: Creating Art With Food

Confectionery Colors: Creating Art With Food


Two artists are taking some of our favorite colorful treats and turning them into a new medium for their artistic expression.

Liz Hickok has taken each flavor of America's favorite gelatin desert and molded it into colorful models of San Francisco and Scottsdale. Since JELL-O isn't the most durable of materials, as part of the project she has two videos that capture these wonderfully sculpted cityscapes. You can see them here and here.

Working with gummy bears, Yaya Chou has created some of the most fascinating sculptures, the best being, of course, a bear skin rug.

San Francisco In Jell-O

This project consists of photographs and video, which depict various San Francisco landscapes. I make the landscapes by constructing scale models of the architectural elements which I use to make molds. I then cast the buildings in Jell-O. Similar to making a movie set, I add backdrops, which I often paint, and elements such as mountains or trees, and then I dramatically light the scenes from the back or underneath. The Jell-O sculptures quickly decay, leaving the photographs and video as the remains.

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The Colors of Woodblock Painting

The Colors of Woodblock Painting


Called "pictures of the floating world," or Ukiyo-e, the main artistic genre of Japanese Woodblock printing first reached popularity during the second half of the 17th Century, and lasted into the 20th Century. Although initially challenged by limited colour, woodblock printing soon become a defining method of producing art. Capturing landscapes, theatre, and even more intimate scenes, Ukiyo-e captured hearts and tastes as well, as they could be inexpensively mass-produced. Traditional Japanese art usually relied on high contrast and a flattening of the dimensions in the piece.

For more on how the art is created: Diary of Carving Woodblocks

the great wave off kanagawa by katsushika hokusai

Perhaps most famously in this genre -- and still produced today -- is that of Katsushika Hokusai's work The Great Wave Off Kanagawa(above), part off his series One-hundred Views of Mt. Fuji, wherein Mt. Fuji is but a hill in the shadow of the tsunami. The wave seemed to reach out for the people desperately clinging to boats with claws, as if the size and arc weren't enough to suggest its ferocity. This piece, though one of the more popular ones, is marked as the one that is the least Japanese in technique of his works.

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