Meet Wilder, our 13 foot, 1974 Serro Scotty. I’d been dreaming for years of getting a little camper. Every time I would see one on the side of the road my I would excitedly imagine fixing it up and setting off on an adventure. I attribute this fascination with campers to my grandparents with whom we would spend my childhood summers camping with in norther Wisconsin. Spending time with my family around the fire, getting to pick which tiny box of cereal I got for breakfast, sleeping on the dinette bed, my spot when we camped with them, chasing minnows and swimming in the lake were and are some of my favorite memories. A couple of years ago the desire to get a camper grew substantially when we were visiting friends a couple hours away and over night our air mattress deflated, leaving us near to sleeping on the ground. I said to Trevyn “Wouldn’t having a camper to visit friends and family be so nice?” and so the search began in earnest. I didn’t, however, want just any camper, I wanted to revive one from the past and give it new life. Boy did I not know how much work that would turn in to!! Last summer, in May of 2018, I found what I thought was the one. Another Serro Scotty but an adorable little 10 footer. We called, pulled out the money for her, and were on our way when we got the call that the owner had sold it. Literally on our way to see it!! I was devastated.
A couple months and several campers later, I found what would become our “Wilder”. When I first saw her I was instantly in love!! The inside was visually, a disaster, but I took what I had learned from researching how to pick a good camper and checked that everything seemed solid and didn’t smell moldy. On initial inspection all seemed well… but that’s a story for later. The camper was located near Green Bay where I work so I stopped by one night and sent Trevyn photos and, on hindsight not the best thing to do when you’re in a relationship, bought the camper for $1200 before Trevyn could look at it. He was not too happy with me. Looking back a year later, and despite everything that’s happened since, I still think I made the right decision. I’ll be writing about the steps we’ve taken so far, the embarrassing pie in the sky moments, and the challenges we’ve faced.
In every single post about our camper progress going forward I want to thank my family with whom we would never have gotten this far. My love, my support, my grounding when another thing goes wrong, Trevyn, my little lovies Lulu and Baxter, my amazing little sister Allison and her fiancé Tipper, my mom’s husband Rod, construction and roofing master, and of course my parents, my patient, problem solving, woman power mama and super awesome, detail oriented, carpenter Dad who let us keep our camper on his property and work on it all summer. I can never express how much I love of these people and their support through this crazy project.
With teaching my commercial class starting this week I had this idea in my head to create an example for our first assignment using a little red car a member of the Fox Valley Photography Group had given me. I originally wanted to draw a two-dimensional background for the car, but at a recent photography meeting I was very inspired by an image one of the group presented. He had created this amazing three dimensional diorama of a grave yard with tiny cut out victorian ladies and little branches for trees. It had this gorgeous vintage feel with a hole for the moon cut out of the background. For the car image I took a page out of his book and created my own 2d/3d night scene and yes, totally stole his idea of cutting a hole from the background for the moon. Such a fantastic idea!! Different than the style of many of my images, but I was excited to combine my love of drawing with photography. Below is my three light set up. I used two speed lights, one gelled blue, to light the car and my desk lamp for the moon.
A couple days late for Halloween but it’s Dia de Muertos so I’ll say it still counts. I’ve always loved art and making things, something I was lucky enough to get from both of my parents. Early in October I was reading through my latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens and saw this fantastic witch cut out of wood for your yard. http://www.bhg.com/halloween/decorating/witch-decor-for-halloween/#page=8 I’ve been working on adding to our Halloween yard scene and thought she would be a great addition. The problem being, I own zero wood working tools, so I let the thought pass until I was visiting with my dad a couple weeks later. Being a carpenter and building his own house from the bottom up, this man has tools. The beautiful desk I’m sitting at right now, he built for me with his own two hands.
We’ve done a couple wood working projects together over the years and when we were looking for something to do that day I again thought of the witch. I thought it would be fun to work on it together and fortunately he was up to the task too. It seemed almost serendipitous that he just happened to have a four foot piece of scrap plywood behind his garage. I freehand drew the outline of the witch and my dad, talented man that he is, was able to cut out every little nook and cranny of the design with Dani helping keep the wood steady. He even cut out a little base to keep the witch from falling over.
When we got our little four foot addition to the family home, we painted her black with a small can of outdoor paint. We had some left-over black chalk paint but we wanted her to stand up to the elements and have the ability to use her as a decoration for years to come so we went with a more weather resistant, outdoor paint. As a final addition to our vignette we bought some white pumpkins to use a skulls in her caldron. The “caldron” was the left-over base from a hanging basket of strawberries bought earlier in the summer. I used more of the black paint to paint the creepy skull faces. Besides being creative my parents taught me to be resourceful. I think my love of all things thrift store and making something new out of something old comes from them. In the end the only cost was the small can of black paint and 4 little white pumpkins.
I’ve always been fascinated by the treasures to be found at the Princeton Flea Market. Booths filled with antiques, books, and old tools could keep a person’s attention for hours. When I was a child I would find all kinds of little tchotchke’s to purchase with my pocket change and once, we even brought home a fluffy little kitten. They no longer allow you to bring pets into the park but I still consider it one of the best flea market finds. When I was 19, and a sophomore in college, I bought a small tufted green chair for my dorm room and started collecting old character glasses. Fifteen years later the green chair found it’s way to the curb but I still have many of the glasses, at least the ones I haven’t broken over the years.
Photographically the flea market has continued to hold my fascination and I’ve brought my camera with me a time or two. I love the repetition of shapes and the textures of old wood and metal. Boxes filled with like items creating a study in pattern.
Not for the first time have I jived with these collections of found objects. The final image below is from ten years ago when I was still photographing with black and white film on my old nikon slr.
Over the summer and fall I love going out to the farmer’s market. Every booth is filled with beautiful colors, people and chaos. I’m able to purchase some of my favorite items that I can’t find anywhere else like the goat’s milk soap I love and chocolate covered soybeans. I can’t resist the big, gorgeous bouquets of colorful flowers either. I don’t always take my camera with me because there I times I just want to exist in a moment without documenting it. This can sometimes be difficult when you see an image and you beat yourself up about not capturing it. A practice I’ve taken up is taking mental photographs and knowing that there will be hundreds and thousands of beautiful images to capture in the future.
An example of one of my mental photographs is seeing the aftermath of a flower booth after selling out. There were petals and leaves strewn everywhere, bits and pieces of flowers left behind. It was gorgeous and messy. On the occasion that I took these particular images we had brought home a big colorful bouquet and we had set it on our table. One evening I was sitting at the table while Trevyn was preparing another delicious dinner. I was looking at the flowers and they were starting to wilt and fade away. Now some people might think, it’s time to throw these away, but I found them so lovely and interesting. The motion of the sunflower in the top image especially caught me. For me it’s finding beauty in all things, young, old, broken, new, different.