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Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

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Transcending reality in wet plate collodion / Vlog E02, S01

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Dear followers,
as I’ve promised I’m publishing my third episode (I count also the episode zero) of my vlog while pursuing my goal to publish an artist photo-book.  Of course, the theme of my book will be Kočevski rog woodland and this time I went to one of the most beautiful places, Ponikve valley.

I was wondering how long should my vlog videos be and what should be the mix of entertainment and informative content. This is what I think it’s good. Please let me know your opinion. In each episode I will include a tip or two about the process, but the main topic will be artistic vision, composition, asking questions and the search for answers. Just don’t ask me to do camera review blogs, they are boring. Photography and cameras is like traveling and wheels. It is related, but not dependent upon. I will do a book review, here and there, but not one of those 100 famous photographers everybody know. I will rather do a review of work that nobody knows, like I’ve done from Peter Župnik, Herman Pivk and many others. Basically photographers whose quality does belong on top 100 list, but they will never be world famous photographers, because of circumstances.

I’ve described my intention in the previous blog post, but let me highlight that I haven’t realised before, but all the likes and shares are well important, since the large social network is the guarantee that my book will actually be published, so thank you in advance! So if you think this content is worthy, please press like and share it. If I’ve made your day, please you could buy me a cup of tea every month via my PATREON page and if you could afford, thank you for bidding on my Ebay auction.

The print on sale is an albumen print, toned with gold toner, from wet plate collodion negative. It’s listed on EBAY.
LINK to “THE BRANCH” Ebay listing
LINK to the “TWO TREES” Ebay listing

I thank David Cutter for the music and Fiona Cambell for the disclaimer voice.

Woodland Photography .eu

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WHAT:
Woodland Photography .eu is three day event in deep forest of Kočevski rog in Slovenia. The main theme is photography and environmentalism, so you can expect photography expeditions, talks, projections, exhibitions, challenges and even performances. And of course bonfire with acoustic music.
It will last three days, in the last weekend of July 2016 and on the last day, Sunday 31st, it will be open for public. The core group will be around 50 people, but on the last day, Sunday 31st, local community will join us so we expect more then 300 people.
The accent of this event is to experience primal environment and primal photography. And although this will not be a workshop in classical sense of the term, there will be many demonstrations of 19th Century photography processes, like wet plate collodion, dry plate collodion negative, salt printing, albumen printing, carbon printing, cyanotype, lumen prints, large format photography,film photography, etc. And of course digital photography will be very much present. We will do time-lapse photography, photo-hunting with long telephoto lenses,…
More about the program at the bottom of this post.

WHO:
For photographers and lovers of photography. The accent will be on analogue photography, like collodion and film photography, but also digital photography will be strongly represented.

WHEN:
29th, 30th and 31st of July 2016

WHERE:
In the middle of Kočevski rog – Resa, Slovenia, in one of the deepest forest of Europe.

FOOD & DRINKS:
Food & drinks will be available, but not for free. It will be possible to make your own food, meaning there will be open fire places, so you can make your own food. Indoor kitchen facility is limited. Shop is in the valley, that’s 30 minutes drive, so daily we will organise collective shopping list and somebody from organisers will go and buy groceries.

LANGUAGE: English and Slovenian

ACCOMMODATION & PARTICIPATION FEE
Evening program is open for public and free of charge. The camping, accommodation, food and drinks will be available for purchasing.

The participation fee depends on accommodation. The prices are for three nights, per person and the contribution for the program is included.
150 EUR for camping + program
200 EUR for accommodation in shared sleeping room + program
Renting a private room is possible, please send us an email.
Discounts:
Kids under age of 15 years have 50% discount (escorted by parent).
Youth under age of 25 years have 25% discount.

CONTACT:
Please email us to info@woodlandphotography.eu

PROGRAM:
FRIDAY, 29th of July 2016
08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
09:00 – 12:00 Setting up working conditions, photo expedition
13:00 – 15:00 lunch break
15:30 – 19:00 Photo expedition
19:00 – 21:00 Dinner
21:30 – 23:00 Talk at bonfire

SATURDAY, 30th of July 2016
04:00 – 07:00 Photo-hunt (with an escort of a hunter*)
08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
09:00 – 12:00 photo expedition to the peak of Rog
13:00 – 15:00 lunch break (at the location Žaga Rog)
15:30 – 18:00 Photo expedition to the caves of Željnske name
18:00 – 19:00 Dinner
19:00 – 21:00 Exhibition opening and talk in the caves
21:00 – 21:30 Returning to Resa
21:30 – 23:00 Talk at bonfire

SUNDAY, 31st of July 2016
04:00 – 07:00 Photo-hunt (with an escort of a hunter*)
08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
09:00 – 13:00 Photo expedition
10:00 – 16:00 Flea market (local hand craft, second hand photo gear, photo books,…)
13:00 – 15:00 lunch break
15:00 Forum of local community
16:00 – 18:00 Photo expedition
19:00 – 21:00 Dinner
21:30 – 23:00 Talk at bonfire

* Additional charging
Hunter escort, flying with paraglider, rafting,… are arranged individually and charged additionally.

Inspiration & manipulation photography

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I confess, I always fancied manipulation of photography. Paradoxically with introduction of Photoshop (I’ve learned PS 3.0 in year 1994) I’ve lost all the interest in this field and my work in the last 15 years is more or less documentarian nature, meaning, 99,9% of my digital images would pass world press photo standards.  I can’t explain why.

About a year ago I’ve made a video about my work and analog manipulation of photography, it’s embedded at the bottom of this post. All the work mentioned is very old, like my last project Fairy Tales was done in 2001-02 and let me state that is not photoshoped at all! That was selectively illuminated landscape scenes, taken on colour negative film, format 6×7. Yes, it was very hard to wait for developed proof prints to see what have I’ve done last week and often go back and redo them.

About a year ago I was at a workshop on collodion glass negative retouching in George Eastman House and beside the techniques I’ve learned I’ve seen also some fascinating examples of retouched photographs. I mean authentic photographs that you may see only in books. Mentor Mark Osterman have shown us an examples from a collection of George Eastman House and that was really inspiring.

Anyway the time has come to start a new project, dealing with nature and image manipulation. I’ve picked few books from authors Peter Župnik, Pavel Pecha, Herman Pivk and Regina Anzenberger. Intentionally I’ve picked authors that are based in East Europe and although the quality of their work does not fall behind known western authors, you probably never heard about them. East-European photography is so underrated! It is so underrated by their own countries to start with! I hope you will appreciate my suggestions and their work.

In this video I’m presenting a print I’ve made from a retouched collodion negative. About a year ago I’ve made a video how I’m making the wet plate collodion negative and the salt print and now I’m publishing the result upgraded by my knowledge gained at George Eastman House. I will talk about my next project in the next videos, but for now I’m sharing with you my creative process, my inspiration and the aesthetic I admire. I think that on youtube there is way too much camera-review videos and photographers on general are putting too much emphasising on gear and not enough on photography and the creative process of photography, so this one is a little different. Very different.

Screenshot 2016-03-27 22.40.20

 

I’m putting my retouched print on ebay, as an auction and by your bidding and buying my work, you support my endeavour in art. This blog is also crowd funded at Patreon.com. Thank you guys, I appreciate it!!!

PS: I’ve started to use professional video-editing software and big thanks to Vid Klančičar for the crash course how to use it.

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Woodburytype – reinvented!

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Very few of readers of my blog will still remember my post published in 2014 where I’m showing my first concrete steps in reviving woodburytype process (LINK). Two years later I can finally say I’ve cracked the process and modernise it.

Let me explain. I’ve first learn about woodburytypes in 2013, at the workshop of carbon printing in George Eastman House. You can read more about Woodburytype process at Wikipedia or even better, look at the video bellow. But let me summarise why I like so much woodburytype and why is it worth to revive the process.

The woodburytype process was invented in 1864 by Water Woodbury and it was the first mechanical printing process that could print a photograph in good quality. Actually that is the under statement. The woodburytype – mechanically printed – print is the same quality like a photograph is! Wiki:

The Woodburytype process was a unique photomechanical process as it was the only practical fully continuous-tone photomechanical process ever invented.

You may take a magnifying glass and you will have a real problem to find a distinction of woodburytype print and carbon print photograph. But that said the process got extinct because of three reasons.
Firstly it was very slow. Printing houses could print about 100 photographs per hour.
Secondly, text could not be printed on the same page, so the woodburytype print had to be manually glued into a book or a magazine.
Thirdly Woodburytype process used huge printing presses for making mould or intaglio from which a woodburytype print was printed. For about 21x30cm photograph (A4 format) a pressure of about 400 tons was needed to make a mould thus the process was reserved only for big industrial printing houses, no amateur could have a press like that, so with the closure of the last woodburytype printing house in about 1900’s also the process died out.

A book by Woodbury with original woodbury type prints from 1875. These are woodbury type prints that are in principle the same as carbon prints, just the process is different.

A book by Woodbury with original woodbury type prints from 1875.

But ever since I’ve seen original woodburytypes I knew the process is really special and worth reviving because of two reasons. It is still the best printing process of photographs ever invented and it’s still the most archival printing process ever invented! Two reasons are enough?

n last hundred or so years there were few attempts to do woodburytype process but let me highlight only Oliver Barret who even wrote a book about the inventor. You may see him printing a woodburytype print at the link bellow. Also Paul Bloomfield published a video about his woodburytpe process. Although the results of modern woodburytypes, that I’ve managed to see on Internet are not a match to the quality of 19th Century’s woodburytypes, I was not discouraged.

Because I do not have an access to a powerful press, my starting premise was that I need to bypass the need for huge press machines. Mark Osterman told me about Stannotype and even was kind enough to send me instruction manual from 19th Century on the topic of Stannotype, but in the manuals there were only general principals how to do Stannotype. I’ve ditched all the historical manuals from 19th Century and decided it to follow the long path of trial and error. I knew what am I looking for and with many trial & error I’ve learned what works and what does not.

image3-4

Relief of pigmented gelatine from which a mould is made. For authentic woodburytype the relief was imprinted in lead plate.

I’ve started with the knowledge I got from Mark Osterman on carbon printing and then slowly changing the parameters until I’ve successfully made a huge relief of pigmented gelatine, that was also technically perfect. Not a single stone in the process was not left unturned, I finished with completely new receipts and methods. But it works! I must come up with the name of the process. How does topshitype sounds like! (joke)

I waited with announcement on my blog about my re-invention because I wanted to print this landscape carbon print motif, but the process demands preciseness and the preciseness demands time, which I didn’t had, so I’ve ruined the carbon print and the intaglio. Now it will take another two weeks to make new intaglio, but then I can print many prints in an hour.

Jane Fonda (b. 1937) three-color Carbro. Dated March 3, 1960. 526 x 432 mm. (http://www.photoconservation.com/)

Jane Fonda (b. 1937) three-color Carbro. Dated March 3, 1960. 526 x 432 mm. (http://www.photoconservation.com/)

My vision is to make a printing house that will print books in “woodburytype” process. I know that with the help of robotisation the printing house can deliver books that will be unprecedented quality. At the moment I’m making my “woodburytypes” with analogue photography, but I already have plans how to print digital files. (No, the digital negative is not the answer!) Also I have a theory how to make colour woodburytypes. If you ever seen carbro three-color photographs – IN PERSON – then you know that they are the best colour photographs your eyes has ever look upon! And on top of that it’s the most archival photographical process, it does not fade!!!

OK, Internet, I haven’t apply or receive any grants for more then a decade, but now I would need to get my back covered, because I need time to continue the research. Could you please send me a tip who would be interested in this kind of research and this vision of mine? You can leave a comment or send me an email to borutpeterlin@gmail.com

Wet Plate Collodion at -9C, plus carbon print process!

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So I’ve received a request if I’m selling also ambrotypes. I don’t because ambrotypes are unique, there is only one and once it’s sold I will never see it again. But I’ve replied that I do sell pre-ordered ambrotype. So when I will go outside next time, I can make an additional ambrotype for a client. If the client likes it, he or she buys it, if not, no problem at all, no questions asked. And pre-ordered ambrotype is also sold for much less I would usually charge.

So here is the result. The client asked if he can buy it in wooden box and so I’ve done some research, I’ve made a boxe from pine-wood and even blast-sanded it. It’s massive wood (not glued wood boards) and pine wood is known for it’s tensions, so it bended. For  the next box I’ve chosen cherry wood and this was much better. The final touch is the trophy plate with engraved information about the plate and my signature. How do you like it?

In this video I’m making carbon prints. I love carbon  prints. I think it’s the best that photography as a medium can offer. Of course this is a subjective opinion, but please object only if you have seen a good carbon print on glass – in person. It’s translucent silkiness of carbon prints can not be compared with any dot-on-paper principle printing process. It’s unique.

To fund my work I have to sell these babies. The carbon print on paper is listed HERE and the carbon print of glass is listed HERE.
I have a stupid anecdote to share. We had an attempt of burglary in our house. The attempt failed, since I had my German Shepherd – Mike in the house and that convinced the thief to retreat. After that I thought, shit I’m keeping all my savings in a drawer! I must hide it somewhere. And I did. And the very next day I didn’t remembered where I’ve hide it, now I’m totally without any cash whatsoever. Luckily I have some money on my paypal, so I can fill up the gap and pay the bills, but

imagine how stupid do I feel! Plus I searched the whole house again and again, but without success. Anyway I’m telling you this because I do feel stupid and I want to “enjoy” the suffering so much that I will never repeat it again!

Screenshot 2016-02-24 11.04.29

Listed on ebay for 7 days!

Screenshot 2016-02-24 11.09.24

Listed on ebay for 5 days!

 

 


ON THE WET PLATE COLLODION AT -9C
OK, I’ve done three videos on the subject how to do wet plate collodion at cold temperatures and none of them covers the all aspects. It’s impossible to cover all the aspects because everything needs to be reevaluated. Ditch the timer, you don’t need it. For instance in collodion manuals it is usually written that sensibilization time is 3 minutes for ambrotype. The truth is that the sensibilization time varies on the working conditions, the acidity of the silver bath, the strength of silver bath, the freshness of the silver bath, the level of iodine in silver bath and so on. What I learned from Mark Osterman is to evaluate the sensibilization visually. Do this tests and you will appreciate his wisdom.

Sensitizing

  1. pour the plate and dip it in silver nitrate bath as you usually do.
  2. after 40 seconds, in safelight conditions, take the silver-plate out and look at it, then immediately dip it back in siverbath.
  3. repeat after 90 seconds, 120 seconds, 180 seconds
  4. observe how the surface of the plate is changing. You will notice the following pattern. At the beginning silver will be on the plate in drops, very oily kind of pattern. Then longer it will stay in the silver-bath, collodion will accept more of the silver-nitrate, more smoother the silver will flow on the surface of the plate.
  5. when there is no more silver drops on the collodion  plate, when silver nitrate flows smoothly, the plate is ready to be taken out.
  6. In some cases, when I had 9% solution, that was freshly boiled and working in temperature of 25C and I was agitating a bit, the sensibilization times were less then a minute! In times when it’s cold, times might be 6 minutes. Of course judging visually!

Pouring collodion
So this is the most important advice I want to give you. Of course take special attention to poured on plate, if collodion has set. Touch the pouring corner and if finger-print is overflown by collodion again, then wait few more seconds and repeat the test and when you can see that the collodion does not flow anymore, then dip it in silver nitrate. You might make a collodion that has solvents in ratio 65% of ether, 35% of alcohol. It will dry faster, but I work with my usual 50:50 ratio. During summer I do change the ratio to 30 ether : 70 alcohol. Plus more ether makes better ambrotypes, more alcohol makes better negatives. (More in the Collodion Manual)

Developing
I can not tell you the time of development, nobody can, you have to judge it visually. Of course if you’re an avid collodion photographer you do this routinely. If you are not, let me say few words. When you pour developer, observe the plate, count seconds loudly. So when the highlight will start to appear, multiply the time with three. So if the highlights are there already at 4 seconds it will be around 12 seconds. If the highlight will start to appear at 10 seconds, the developing time might be more like 30 seconds. OK, when I say highlight, it can be highlight of a face or a sky. Of course sky will appear much faster then a highlight patch on a nose, so take my advice on seconds approximately.

Developer
At freezing point I usually have 10 gr of ferrosulfate in 100 ml of developer. If it’s hot I reduce it down to 3,5 gr.

Heating plates and chemistry
I don’t recommend it. If you do not have a camper with permanent heating, then I don’t recommended. Because the heating will cool down, so you will not have a steady temperature and your results might be all over the place. My advice is that you do not heat up anything, so you will have steady temperature, which might be -5C, but at least when you will figure it out, you will have steady working conditions! The worst is that you get a good result, but then the temperature of your chemistry has dropped and you will have different results and there are so many variables, that it’s very likely you will get many problems. The only heating I recommend is long underwear and double socks.

Freezing water
In the video I forgot to put table salt in my water. One teaspoon of table salt will prevent water from freezing even at -6C. I’m adding salt even during hot temperatures, because salt will react with silver-nitrate and stop developing process immediately, thus clear blacks.

That’s about it! Enjoy making ambrotypes or better ambroice, a term coined by Scott Anton.

About this
Last but not least, I thank you for supporting my videos, blog posts and my work on general. You can do that by becoming my Patreon, bidding on my ebay auctions, buying work from me directly, taking my workshops or even sending me a tip on paypal directly. My paypal address is borutpeterlin and every cup of tea is welcome. As I confessed I developed a habit – being an artist…

Again I’m making an Ebay auction and again I’m listing prints that are by my opinion perfect! I hope you like the making-of-video and if you think it’s worthy don’t forget to subscribe, like and share.

And as always: TOPSHIT HAPPENS!!!

Barbed wired final frontier of EU

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Dear readers,
I’ve started a new project. I’m foremost documentary photography and ever since I got myself devoted to wet plate collodion process, I regretted the fact that I’ve parted with the spontaneity and playfulness of 35 mm photography. I desperately wanted to smooth my workflow, so the complexity of wet plate collodion process will not stand in my vision of documentary photographer, going around, taking pictures. That’s why I’ve made this invincible wet-plate mobile! If you are wet-plate practitioner you will appreciate a lot the content of this video, because wet-plate workflow has never been easier! Of course the dark-box is the key, as I’ve described in my LAST POST.

Now, finally, I can devote myself again to documentary photography I cherish so much. My theme is The Final Frontier of EU, more precisely the EU’s Schengen border. To prevent migration of refugees from Syria and immigrants from other places, Slovenian government decided to put barbed wire on our south border!

 

71WHId5NVOL._SL1500_Imagine that!?! I do not know what think and what will they solve with what? Imagine that thousands of refugees will flood across the river Kolpa to Slovenian soil and take a stand there! What will Slovenian government do then? I mean it’s not 1939, journalists are all around and on top of everything we should pretend to be civilised, so we set barbed wired fence. To stop what and who? Deers?

Most of my readers don’t know much of history of Slovenia and there is no reason why should you know, but in this context I will say few lines. Slovenia used to be part of Yugoslavia, governed by communistic regime that resist Stalin’s politic and therefore received a lot of

zica_tine

Deer that died in huge pain. Photo: Tine Lindič

sympathy from West and East. There was a very real threat that Soviet Union will invade Yugoslavia like they did to Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and others. Churchill delivered The Iron Curtain Speech in 1946 and its south-east border was actually Slovenia (that was part of Yugoslavia at the time). So what I’m trying to say is that in the past we experienced some really difficult times and inspire of being threatened with invasion, even when the Iron Curtain was being set on our borders with Italy and Austria, even in the dark times like this, our ancestors did not think of making our country like barbed wired concentration camp!

That said Slovenian nation, we deserve the finger up our asses, for being a faithful servants of our masters, support the imperialistic war in Iraq and dismantling Middle East, being quite at violation of human rights issues, buying particular arms and basically everything we supposed to do, to receive crumbs from the table. There is solely one good lesson to be learned from this refugee crisis. The whole Europe and the world has learned that whatever war happens wherever in the world, we will have in a month time refugees knocking at our door! USA is safe, they do not care, but people we have learned that you can not cross a border as a single person, but a flow of hundred thousands of refugees is unstoppable!

I say this in first person, because on the contrast to most of you, I do not exclude the scenario that I and my family might need to flea from a future war. I was 9 years old, I still remember very clearly, we had a lunch, I was being very picky and my grand father said, appreciate the food, because tomorrow it might be another war. I was laughing at him, thinking how silly he is, but not even ten years later we had a war!

Topshitest dark-box in the world!

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Oh, I am so happy with this dark-box I’ve done in the last few days. In October 2014 I’ve bought a Land Rover Series 3 from year 1972 and it took me more then half a year that I started to trust the car and foremost my ability to fix it, or more often then not, recognising I need a help from a friend to do the maintenance of the truck.

I so much love photographing outdoor, especially documentary photography and you know how annoying is to do it in wet plate collodion process. Sure I’ve done it many times, you can get to a location, set up a tent and you work whole day at the location, clean the stuff and go home with bunch of plates. In the last four years that I do wet plate collodion photography, only twice it happened that I’ve set up a tent, took few plates, cleaned the place up, move to another location, set up the tent, do another bunch of plates, clean it and go home. It is so exhausting this moving. And moving a dark-box or a tent is not a problem, it’s to pour back all the chemistry, prepare it for transport… ARGHHH!!!

I had in mind for a long time a wet plate collodion mobile, a car that it will have a dark box and most importantly all other chemistry prepared in such a way that I would stop the car, set a camera, pour the plate, develop a plate and move to another location. I know few people have camper vans or even trailers, which is fantastic, but not suitable for my environment, not suitable for motifs I want to photograph.

Land Rover, Series 3, 109 LWB, Station Wagon, an old-timer from 1972 is perfect for my needs. It’s cheap to buy, it’s cheap to maintain (parts are cheap, but you have to do the mechanical work by yourself or go bankrupt),  it’s almost free to insure and foremost it looks good on you! Sure it’s not cheap to drive, it burns 13 litres of petrol per 100km (USA: 18 mpg), but it’s not a car for daily use, it’s a tool! I drive it about once a week down to the river or up into forests, near my house, to bring all the equipment,  I rarely make a trip longer then 100 km. You don’t want to drive long time with this car!

Screenshot 2016-01-02 23.16.42

A dark-box as a crate on a roof rack

Anyhow now I’m happy with my dark box. I need to make another shelf beside the dark-box on which I will have a bath with fixer or humectant and a box to store clean and exposed plates. On top of everything I can make a bed in my car! I can easily make a bed size 135cm x 180cm. OK, if I will have a dark box inside, it will be 50 cm narrower, but still plenty of space. When I was in Vienna PhotoBook Festival, I was camping inside the truck and had also a cooker for making soups, tea and other tasty meals. The dark box can be used also on the roof rack as a crate for storage.

 

20160102-susica012.jpg

River Susica, a wet plate collodion negative on glass, format 10x15cm, taken with Kodak Folding Brownie 3A, from about 1905. Exposure: F/64, 5 minutes, old collodion, silver bath 5,7pH

Today I’ve made a quick test before lunch to see if window is properly filtering daylight and I’ve made this wet plate collodion negative. It’s done with Kodak Folding Brownie 3A, from year 1905, it was one of the first compact cameras in the world! Amazing camera, I love it so much. The most important is that I’ve made the plate in about half an hour with all the setting up and going back home to catch the lunch.  This Land Rover and the dark box is the most important tool I have! It will make a wet plate collodion process natural and easy. So happy!

Last but not least, my new year’s resolution is to make more videos and blog posts. I am amazed how many people are following me trough social network! The Ebay auctions are going good, the last one reached about 230 EUR and then I’ve sold another copy of the print to an Italian bidder that lost a bidding against a bidder from USA. Of course the second albumen print from the last auction was sold for slightly higher price then the wining bid was. If I add up the support from my patreons and the commissions that I receive in Slovenia and workshops I have, I must say it’s going great. I want to thank you, by revealing my craft secrets, that I have none, inspiring others and being inspired by others.

Thank you and remember topshit 2016 happens!

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