Monday, May 14, 2012

Steampunk on Sunday: Faking a photo

 The best thing about Steampunk,
 without question,
 is that people make their own artefacts, 
to their own design, from things they find and alter 
and the only limitation is their technical skill.
 They don't have to worry about copyright or historical precedent.
They don't have to  please anyone but themselves.
The only discipline is authenticity.
With that in mind I offer my technique for turning 
inkjet printouts into realistic old photographs.

Lovely girl. Must be a librarian...
 I needed old photos for the Steampunk Study 
as Hubby is now in there and has had ideas of his own.

We have a huge map of the world
(modern political, but then, 
the room is frequented by a time traveller)
bought for a penny from Amazon.
It's now pinned up on the wall and 
Hubby is covering it in 'old' photos and postcards.
Now, getting the images isn't a problem. 
There's lots of you lovely people putting up vintage photographs on-line
 and I'd rather pin up a copy than damage an original.
 But my first efforts, printed off on card stock, were pretty mediocre.
I needed something that felt real, looked real.

So, here is how I make vintage photographs 
from old images and card stock. 

First, get your photographs.
Hubby wanted images of places and transport on his map
which was very convenient, as this month's
has some lovely old photographs of Egypt.

One of these photos isn't of Egypt.Can you see which one?
When you chose your pictures, make sure it's actually a photograph
 (not a black and white copy of a watercolour, for instance)
and fiddle with the colour. 
You aren't limited to black and white.
Make it sepia or a muddy shade of green or blue.
You could even make it look hand-coloured.
Add some speckles, fade some areas, give your photo a history.

 Print out your photos on cardstock on an inkjet printer
Cut the photo out. 
You can leave a border, but it's not necessary.

Now, you can ill-treat the photo. 
You can sand it with an emery board.
 You can crumple it up and smooth it out
You can fold it and sand the folds,
 as if it's been kept in someone's wallet for a long time.
You can even scorch it a little.

Then, you spray it.
 With this.

Three bucks. Dollar General.
 To be honest, I don't know how to describe this.
It says it's an enamel paint. Can you get clear enamel paint? doesn't smudge or dilute inkjet prints
and I found that out entirely by accident.
You know how you're supposed to spray lightly and evenly,
from side to side 
and build up thin coats 
in a careful and sober manner?

Well, forget all that.

See the white puddle of varnish?
 Spray and spray and spray until you can see the 'paint'
start to form opaque white patches.
It's very liberating.
The spray settles into the cardstock
thickening  and softening it slightly.
It dries to a shine, but muted and patchy in places.
You can either fix those or accept them as part of the photograph's history

Essentially, you're done. You can age the back of the photo
or add a photographer's stamp. 
You can distress it further.
You can add notes
 (pencil looks more authentic than pen on the back).
Then you just slip it into your 
Time Travellers Journal,
 or your Airship Log.

Find images at 



  1. Now, this, is all kinds of creative fun! Love it!! I think we even have a Dollar General somewhere in the vicinity..... (And I think I figured out which was the non-Egypt's going to be a glorious day!) ;o) Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

    1. Then you shall have a prize, Miss Crow, for correctly guessing my difficult conundrum!

  2. Wow! Who knew? One more reason to think outside the

    1. Thank you, Miss Possum. I must admit I was surprised it worked. Doesn't work on ordinary printer paper, though.

      Maybe I out to edit that in?


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