Weather’s Beautiful, Wish You Were Here!

I have a small but growing collection of vintage souvenir postcard folders. Some have never been used, but I actually prefer the ones that have been addressed and stamped. It’s somehow sweeter to know they were sent to a loved one.

At first it was the kitschy Americana that originally drew me to them. But it’s the overly saturated coloring that makes each of these feel special, like tiny paintings.

Warning: Print Geek Alert

Color photography was not as advanced as printing techniques for the first half of the twentieth century. Black and white photographs required coloring in the printing process. New colorants, more like dyes than inks, were being experimented with in the late 1920’s. Their watery quality meant they absorbed into the paper too quickly and were slow to dry… making images blurry,

Printer Curt Teich & Co in Chicago, discovered that embossing the paper with a linen texture before printing created more surface area, and new heat set inks meant faster drying times. This meant that the dyes were set on the linen surface quickly before they had a chance to absorb into the paper. This is what gives these such vibrant colors.

Teich developed a technique called Art-Colortone. This a five-color printing process on a linen-finish stock from a black and white photo. In addition to printing with the usual CYMK colors, a lighter cyan was sometimes used to give the images extra punch. Just look at those skies!

The photograph-based cards also employed handwork by artists who brought them into production. Perhaps it’s this touch of the human hand that makes them feel like tiny paintings to me.

Susan Hanft: The Five Question Interview

The artist in her Bastrop studio

Susan Hanft is creator/owner of Gone To Pot. She studied both ceramic sculpture and printmaking and uses drawings, pattern and typography in her pieces, giving them a distinct graphic quality. In addition to her ceramics, she also shares her enthusiasm for sewing and stitching on her Instagram feed.

She lives in Bastrop with her dog Pearl.

1. Why did you move to the Bastrop area? 

After a bad breakup, I decided to leave Houston, where I’d been living for the previous 30 years. I’d loved being in the crowded, vibrant city during that time, but was ready to experience a slower, calmer lifestyle in the country.

I chose Bastrop, in particular, because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my aging mother. My father and sister were already residing in the county, too.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I don’t know, but think most people have the creative urge. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in some artistic endeavor. Since childhood, I’ve drawn and sculpted. As a kid, I also studied violin (my playing was awful) and taught myself guitar (equally bad), but dance was my primary interest. When chronic injuries ended that career, visual arts became more of an outlet. I’ve always enjoyed writing, too. 

Spending time in the studio now helps me quiet my mind during the ongoing pandemic.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I’ve learned how to colorize black and white photos and gained a few rudimentary computer animation skills. 

The big lesson has been patience. A while back, I adopted a little feral dog. Pearl was terrified of everything human, so fearful she tried to jump through a closed glass-paned window the day I brought her home. 

It’s been impossible to hurry Pearl’s trust in humanity. (It was nearly a year before she wagged her tail at me.) She’s taught me to better accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Making stoneware teapots while listening to the Global Psychedelia channel on Mixcloud

Pearl

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie, fruit or pecan, but vegan, please. 

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