The Crochet Lesson

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In the mid-90’s, I was living away from home for the first time and becoming increasingly interested in making photographs. This was the decade I experimented with my parents honeymoon camera, a Voigtländer Perkeo I,  which led to my first twin lens reflex a Minolta Autocord followed by my favorite camera, the Rolleiflex Automat TLR.

In the past I have avoided talking gear for fear of betraying my camera nerdery. At some point in the 1990’s, maybe around 1997, I went over to my parents house. My mom was crocheting on the back porch which is a slab of concrete that is sheltered from the sun by the second story deck which overlooks Mission Bay. I had the Rolleiflex, a set of close-up lenses and a desire to photograph my mom’s hands, the yarn she used to crochet and the fabric of her dress.

Six frames were dedicated to a close-up of her trying to teach me a pearl stitch. I don’t remember why the portrait session had turned into a knitting lesson. Maybe it was a strategy for me get permission to photograph her. More than likely, it was my attempt to photograph the steps of the pearl stitch so that I could try it on my own. Maybe it was the bachelor in me thinking that in the future I would need to crochet a pair of socks or a sweater.

I must have grown impatient with the TLR and its parallax which made the framing of objects close to the camera an educated guess, for partway through the roll, I made two images of my mom from a converstational distance. Only two before going back to make four more attempts at recording the yarn on her lap.

Only a contact sheet was made of the Crochet Lesson. I never made individual prints of her hands. Next month as part of an exhibition of portraits of parents, I am including a reprinted version of this contact sheet made on a paper I used to print with during the 1990’s, Oriental Seagull Variable Contrast Glossy (the one in the blue box with the purple sticker).

My name is Francis Schanberger and I am a photo nerd.

haunted sleepwear

Lately, I have been fixated on vascular support stockings. They trigger a memory of seeing my father wear them. Occasionally I would see his stockings folded after being laundered.  At other times I might would actually see him wearing them because of his pajama shorts he wore close to bed time.

I made the first version of the pajama shorts in February specifically for an exhibition at Proto Gallery in Hoboken, New Jersey. I made two additional versions early this summer. Number two was made with different coats of saffron and rainbow chard. Number one and number three were made with straight chard. Number three will be on display in Columbus starting tomorrow as part of the Fine Arts Exhibition at the Ohio State Fair. The most recent version ditches the pajama shorts in my attempt to create a sleepwear creature. When she saw the finished red tulip anthotype, my wife Bridgette said she was reminded of one of the ghost hitchhikers from Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Disney updated a few of their classic attractions in the last 15 years. So if you want to see the connection, look for an older photograph taken at the amusement park. I am including one appropriated from

Pajama Shorts with Anti-Embolism Stockings Number One


Pajama Shorts with Anti-Embolism Stockings Number Two


Pajama Shorts with Anti-Embolism Stockings Number Three


Bed Jacket with Anti-Embolism Stockings Number One


Ghost Hitchhikers from Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion


In relative motion, in print

Last weeks Dayton City Paper, our free weekly paper, published a review of the zoetropes on display at the Dayton Art Institute’s Experience Center. The review is based upon an interview of Bridgette Bogle and myself by Susan Byrnes, a sculptor I have shown with in the past.

You can link to the article here at addressing dress

hats in relative motion

I have noticed that when sitting down to eat with friends that conversation drops off relative to the flavor of the food. If the food is prepared with love and eaten by individuals with a strong appetite, exchanged words tend to be rare.

Maybe that makes sense.

I use this as an analogy to explain the lack of reports from the studio. I have been busy with a few exhibitions and my second collaboration with Bridgette Bogle. This one involves zoetropes. Four of them. Below is a raw series that will include the use of color over the silhouetted figure.

the return of the return of doctor frangst

My projects typically have a run of about four years before transitioning to the next body of work. From the summer of 2001 until about 2006 I worked under the rules of staged cyanotype self-portraiture creating a fictional character name Dr. Frangst. The project came to a stand-still in late 2005 when I replaced the character’s usual white lab coat with a cyanotype photogram coat with gingko leaf patters covering it. I made a few more images after that but nothing really “took”. Gingko Photogram Lab Coat is currently on view at Kenyon College in an exhibition titled Material Message curated by Molly Bondy and Marcella Hackbardt. The exhibition can be found Kahler Gallery which is in the Studio Art Building and will be on view now through April 12th. Kenyon College is located in Gambier, Ohio.

Other artists in the exhibit include: Brian Andrews, Cheyenne Cardell, Ashley Cummings, Dennis DeHart, Kelsey Dillon, Kate Fraiman, Meredith Friel, Jon Funder, Rory Hamovit, Clare Hodgdon, Sarah Kaufman, James Luckett, Jack McKenzie, Ashley Moore, Elizabeth Myers, Patricia Lois Nuss, Selina Roman, Jacinda Russell, Ally Schmaling, Morgan Ford Willingham, Emily Witosky, Zeslie Zablan, and Maria Zarka.

a sensitive man

Yes. I am a sensitive man. Last month I ran into a lot of trouble trying to ship Iris Peignoir with Hidden Shorts to Arizona in a frame. I packed it so that it would be within UPS’s height and girth restrictions but my avoidance of dealing with the UPS store resulted in a lot of driving around and a lot of packing and unpacking of a large box with a smaller box in the parking lot outside the UPS customer center.

Severely defeated, I called up Gina at Art Intersection who gave me the go-ahead to send the unframed piece in a tube. When considering fourteen dollars vs. 200 plus dollars and all the heartache, my artistic vision is compelled to be OK with hanging a fugitive work on paper on the wall unframed.

Which is how it is being shown at Light Sensitive on view at Art Intersection now until April 19th. The exhibition juried by Tom Persinger of f295 is billed as a celebration of images from the darkroom. There is nothing dark about the grassy area I exposed this piece in during three weeks of Vermont sun. But it is light sensitive.

greetings from the frozen midwest

Staying in today to avoid the wind, the wind-chill and the subzero temperatures. I even emptied my work area in the garage to make a spot for the car. That’s what garages are typically designed for…the sheltering of cars, not the coating of anthotypes or UV exposure dependent printing. 

It’s a good day for late, late portfolio review follow-ups. I think I sent one about four weeks after getting back from Chicago. That would have been early November. I guess now they are New Year’s greetings. 

Next week, the Eight Annual OOVAR (Ohio Online Visual Artist Registry) Exhibition will have a closing reception on Saturday, January 11, 2014 from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Carnegie Gallery which is on the second floor of the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s main branch. Included is a digital print of the (Basic) Red Tulip Sleeping Dress

The original was just sold by Loretta Puncer’s Gallery 510. It is my favorite of the anthotypes and am glad to see it go to a good home. The framed anthotypes do take up a bit of room in my studio / slash office. I really do take after my father. His office was unusable except for a small area of a table in a room full of stacks of medical journals and old mail. 

No nightmarish pictures of cluttered office spaces today. Instead just a few snaps of the start of the (Basic) Red Tulip Sleeping Dress and it’s final framed version.




News from Ohio Art League’s Annual Fall Juried Exhibition. 

Both Bridgette Bogle and I have work in this show. Her collection of paintings, “Twelve Little Mistakes”, won a second place juror’s (Melissa Vogely-Woods) award. Even with the strong showing of painting, three of the anthotypes were juried into the exhibition. One of them or maybe the three together garnered a “Bad Girls for Good Art” award. 

 The exhibition runs  from October 21–December 6. The Fort Hayes Shot Tower Gallery’s schedule: 8 am – 4 pm Monday through Friday with the exception of Wednesday. The gallery remains open until 6 pm on Wednesday. 

A closing reception is planned for December 6 5:30-7:30pm.


Complimentary Colors

Tonight, I start a long, difficult process of actively using this blog and its mirror site as a means of communicating my artistic practice. It’s been a busy couple of months.

Not just teaching. The anthotypes are maturing in approach and content. I am getting influenced by the painter in my life and other painters in my life. I think all the rubbings on the Vermont pieces were influenced by Bridgette and I viewing the Gerhardt Richter video. Somewht related, when someone mentions complimentary colors to you in a hallway based upon seeing an instagram picture of a work in progress…I better take heed. Rebecca Sargent, thank you.

Exhbition news minus pictures.

The Ino Town, Japan show ended last week. The platinum palladium prints on the Tosa Washi may travel to Kyoto. Stay tuned.

Three anthotypes are on view in Columbus as part of the Ohio Art League Fall Juried Show.

Three anthotypes are on view in Fixed Shadow at Wright State University.

One anthotype (the double exposure one) will be on display in the Soho Photo Gallery Alternative Photography competition.

I will upload pictures of the work, possibly even exhibition documentation in the next few weeks. In the meantime, how about an early image of a work in progress? Complimentary Clot in Saffron, photographed October 21st. 

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How to work with Tosa Washi sans illustrations

Finally there is a sign of progress in regards to printing on Tosa Washi. I completely revamped my approach to making negatives by designing a QTR printer profile. Despite the recent push to use matte black ink for inkjet negatives, I have stuck with the glossy black strictly because of the expense of swapping out black ink on the Epson 4800. It seems to block plenty of UV. The dried down prints show no sign of a change in Dmax in the ground which can accompany the dark ground where the edge of the transparency lies.

Here’s a brief workflow for handling the paper, without illustrations. At some point I will include an entry with pictures but I am short on time which will make sense in a couple of days.

Coating 30 gsm Tosa Washi

1. I use a 3 inch wide synthetic bristle brush, which gets primed with distilled water prior to coating. I run the brush against the sides of the distilled water dish to discharge as much of the distilled water as possible.

2. The paper is placed on a piece of felt. I am using an 11 x 14 inch size piece for paper that is about 9″ x 12″. I use two strips of poplar weighted down with a stainless steel straight edge and a large wrench. These go to the left and right edges of the paper to keep it from moving during coating. I coat on the smooth side of the paper.

3. I brush initially in one direction from left to right, dipping the brush into the palladium / ferric oxalate mix for each pass. After creating four rows, I build up emulsion on the right side by starting at the bottom and brushing in one direction upwards. The action of the brushing goes from fast to slow. Fast at the start of a row or column and slower as you get to the other side. I use about 80 drop total for the 9″ x 12″ size paper.

4. I hang the paper on a clothesline, allowing it to air dry for thirty minutes.

Print Frame and exposure.

5. I lay a sheet of card stock weight paper on the felt of spring back of the print frame.

6. Next comes the coated sheet emulsion up.

7. I use a sheet of clear mylar  as a barrier between the negative and the coated paper. The paper has a lot of emulsion on it.

8. The negative is placed upon the mylar and the split back is assemble together.


9. Exposures have been running around 60 minutes to 90 minutes in a BL fluorescent exposure unit. I do use a Stouffer’s step tablet and expose to just barely make out the distinction between step 7 and 8.

10. It is very hard to gauge exposure so I recommend smaller coated pieces of paper as test strips.

Development and clearing:

11. I use a piece of Plexiglass that is slightly smaller than the tray but larger than the print to transport it between trays.

12. Always, always, always have chemistry in the tray before placing the print into the tray. The only modification to this is developer. I place the print into a tray with the Plexiglass with 80 percent of the developer. Once the paper has absorbed the developer from the reverse side, I pour the remaining developer onto the surface.

13. The paper is strong but prone to damage towards the end of clearing. I place the plexi and print into a slightly tilted tray with running water. The water strikes the tray in the upper left corner and monitor the print for five minutes taking care that the print does not roll up on itself or travel underneath the running water.

14. The washed print is transported on the plexiglass to a table. I place a piece of blotter paper on top and lightly brayer the blotter paper. I then peel off the print from the Plexiglass and transfer it to a clean drying screen.

The prints have a bit of texture from the drying process and will need to be smoothed out with a clothes iron or dry mount press. Experiment with overexposed / underexposed prints.