I don’t know about you but it is so easy to get caught up in your day to day routine and let it take over. There have been truly lovely days that have passed me by all because I didn’t want to give up a little time from whatever I was doing-painting walls of a scene, casting, whatever. It always seems like a good idea at the time to keep plugging away but then I am a little mad at myself later for staying cooped up.

 So I was thrilled when we needed to take some work outside this past weekend! The current scene needed some major distress to give it the proper look. Distress that can only come from an actual flame. Being the curmudgeon I am, I wouldn’t let Lori use the torch in the back room to get the necessary effects. Call me crazy. Years ago the apartment behind us had a fire and it freaked us out to watch the firemen battle it. Even thought the fire wasn’t huge, the damage was huge. Not just from actual fire, but from the firemen doing their jobs –break out the windows, ripping out parts of wall, and soaking everything with water. Something like that would be devastating to us because we would lose years and years of accumulated scenes and props. So, naturally I was opposed to the idea of doing this in our apartment. Luckily, we have some wonderful friends, Joni and Eric (also photographers-see the side bar for Joni’s work), with a house on Long Island. They came to our rescue with an invite to come out for the weekend to work on this scene.  Perfect.  Wine and freshly iced cake in hand, we loaded June (our trusty vehicle) and made the trip.

The weather was wonderful. The temperature and humidity had broken and we were treated to a picture perfect weekend. Behind their property is a little gravel drive, which was ideal. We ran some tests to see what would give the appropriate look and set to work.  Turns out that worn out collodion (used in traditional wet plate photography) works better than contact cement as an accelerant.  Must be the ether, or could it be the grain alcohol. Hmm? It is often pretty tedious when it gets to the distressing portion of the scenes. It can take hours to apply multiple layers of paint and glaze. Not so with fire. It was a nice change to have the results be so immediate. No, we didn’t just set the whole thing ablaze. We’re too much of control freaks for that. It was actually a lot of careful application of the torch to get the right density of color and texture. More like painting with fire.

All went smoothly except for one minor event. Lori was brushing some fresh collodion onto a portion of wall that we had previously torched. Apparently there was enough heat still there to catch fire. Fire went up the brush, over the hand (goodbye knuckle hair!) and into the small container of collodion she was holding. That all got dropped into the gravel where we watched it burn a little bit before smothering it with a heavy piece of canvas. Lori is fine, not even any redness later, but it was a little too exciting.

So now we have the pieces back home in Brooklyn and have to catch up the rest of the scene so we can start to assemble it. We’re pretty hopeful that the results will be what we want in the end. It’s a little too soon to tell, but so far so good. Stay tuned.