A year ago at the Chicago Antique Mart I bought an 1880's dress form. I know it is from around that time because of the brand name tag on the model and her shape. Girl has got some hips. The two gentlemen who were with me looked at me, looked at the dress form, looked at me, looked at the dress form and then I realized they were trying to point out that she wasn't my size. Well, I think her hips are my size, but she has a tiny waist. It did not matter to me because I wanted to take her home. We packed her up in my friend's Mini Cooper (holy cow can you pack a lot of stuff into a mini) and I tucked her in the corner of my living room. Of course then I scared the bejesus out of myself when I walked past her in the middle of the night and thought someone was in my house. The two gentlemen predicted that would happen. Whatever.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertha_Palmer
Almost a year later and Mrs. Bertha Palmer is an integral part of my life. She is named after Bertha Palmer the Chicago socialite whose husband opened the famed Palmer House hotel. Mrs. Bertha Palmer was a bit of a fashionista in her time and just look at those hips.

Unfortunately when I hang a straight skirt on her it looks a little awkward because she has a bustle on her butt. Full skirts look fabulous on her though.

When I started taking pictures, with my iPhone, the only white wall I could find in the house was a doorway. In my pictures it looked like a dress form in front of a door. Kind of lame. I decided I wanted a back drop, but I did not feel like hanging a sheet or buying an expensive backdrop. So, I started looking for an old projector screen. I found a couple listed on Etsy, but the shipping made it cost prohibitive. Then I check Craigslist and a gentleman in Logan Square was selling one for $20. I went and picked it up that day.

My apartment gets a lot of natural light, but some days it is just not enough. I found some old film lights online, but I think I would have to hold them while I tried to take a picture. If I had an assistant that may work, but alack and alas, it is just me. Then I was at my grandmother's house and my mom had me crawling behind the air conditioner to try and fix it (um, needless to say I did not fix it) and she turned on Poppy's work light. I went to Home Depot the next day and bought one.

The dress form cost $100, the projector screen $20, iPhone clip and tripod $30, the light $35 and metal milk crate (free from the Morton Building)*. While it is not the perfect set-up, for today, it works. I had to buy a clip and tripod for my iPhone because it is really hard to take a non blurry picture with that thing.

This is what the process looks like when I am taking photos. My kitchen turns into a very tiny studio and I trip over things every which way I turn.




*My grandparent's live out in Coal City and my grandfather built a Morton Building, which is basically a giant barn. In the Morton Building are farm implements, gas stations, coke machines, train stuff, construction materials, tools, and along with all of that is a camper, a 1980's Crown Vic, a speed boat, a pontoon boat, a 1960 something Ford Fairlane with suicide doors, at least a couple of tractors and so much more. In order to take pictures of skirts against the projector screen I needed a way to raise the dress form up. My friend Dan was going to an auction so I asked him to find me an old milk crate. He told me I should just look in the Morton Building. That's just what I did and lo and behold there were about ten metal milk crates in there and about 20 plastic ones. 

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