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Monday, April 4, 2011

A sketch of the letter H (for hypnotism, hairstyles and Hawaii) + Incense, Ice, and Ivory

My favorite image from Hypnotism, as I wrote in the last entry, is an engraving of a sleepwalking woman in a cage with big cats:
Using this image as a kind of base, I've made some sketches for the letter H. First this one:

And then this one, where the mesmerizing pair in the lower left  have been flipped:

Somehow, I'm disappointed I have less of a history of hairstyling than I thought, but I can always add that in later. It's a lot of fun to stretch, tweak and layer these images in Photoshop, which I'm slowly learning to use after stubbornly insisting on sticking to paper, scissors, and glue for a long time. But I'm still a little creaky when it comes to cutting out details like the "rays" extending from hands of the 18th Century hypnotist, which I want to invisibly separate from the figures in order to make them a little more transparent...

Looking at the letter "I" in early February, I was drawn to a series of images of incense:

It's amazing that politics, history, and religion can be so intimately woven into these images - from "The Altar of Incense as God probably wanted Moses to construct it" in the first image, to the second image's French incense burners "a la moderne" (from 1775), the intricate organic imagery of the Moroccan censer, and the American incense meant to replace Japanese imports during World War II. Though none of the images that told me so grabbed me as much as these did, I was amazed to learn that there are very ancient traditions for making incense used in religious rituals in every corner of the world. I'd always associated incense with Asia and the Middle East, but it's been made from resins, roots, berries, and fragrant wood from all over the world, and seems to have been a feature of many pre-Columbian religious rituals in Latin America as well as nearly everywhere else.

I love finding visual recordings of practices just on the edges of my personal and familial memory. My great grandparents remembered these ice wagons (from the folders labeled "Ice") and the process of harvesting ice very well.

These "Summer Luxuries" are now a so-called necessity that many of us find already made in the trays in our freezer. I wish I'd scanned some photos of the metal tongs and other tools of the icemen's trade. Perhaps I'll dive back in later to find them.

It was getting close to lunch time when I encountered the files on ice cream, from which I selected a couple of vintage advertisements:

I'd like to somehow make them into an ice cream sundae mountain,or a forest of soft serve ice cream cones, shrouded in incense, where an ivory elephant roams in search of a frosty cocktail...

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