Jes Lee

Back to my little book for a minute

Along with all the Made Here things I am working on, I am still trying to get more of my ‘Mississippi’ books finished to have out at Art-a-Whirl. For the longest time I have had issues with the instant photos I am using for the covers.

They just weren’t turning out like I hoped they would. And that was bothering me. On the two books I have completed of this edition, the covers were not permanently attached. I kept hoping that someday soon I would get better photos from my Instant Lab, or figure out what I had to do to make them look better.

But this weekend, while waiting for a really large Photoshop file to finish saving, I did a bit of digging. I learned that someone wrote a book on adjusting photos specifically for printing with the Instant Lab, which is exactly how I am creating the cover images of this book. I read through it pretty quickly, and started trying the techniques he talked about in the book.

The photos are coming out so much better now! I’m quite pleased with the results!


Books and plates and instant film

I had hoped by this time to have my film 365 posts going again. I’m still taking the photos! But this year has kicked my butt in a few ways I wasn’t expecting, and some things that I just haven’t had enough time for. Posting a photo every day here has been one of them. I still really enjoy having my favorite cameras with me every day, and this project really has helped me to get back in touch with my cameras again, so I have no regrets of doing it. There are many days that I take more than one photo, just as I had hoped there would be. I imagine there will be a big ‘catch-up’ type post on that project sometime soon, or I will create a gallery here or on Flickr to keep all the photos. But that will come later.

I have been enrolled in two very amazing classes at MCBA this month.

The first is called ‘Guided Book Projects’ and it is taught by Chip Schilling. I admire his work, and his style of teaching and knowing what you need as a student to get to the next stage. The book I am working on for this class is pretty epic compared to the other books I have made. I’m not bragging. There is more to this book technically than I have usually taken on with my projects. I started out with one plan, and have moved in a complete other direction. My book will involve making polymer plates (which I normally avoid), printing on one of the Vandercooks at MCBA (which I also normally avoid), teaching myself a new binding, and working instant film photos into the covers.

The Impossible Project released their first “camera” awhile back called the Instant Lab. What this allows you to do is put your cell phone on top of an instant camera-like base and make an instant film image of any photo on your cell phone. This opens up worlds of being able to take photos with other cameras, manipulate them, make collages and multiple layered images, and by finding a way to get those images on your cell phone (not hard) be able to make instant photo prints of them. For artists that work in multiples and editions (like many book artists, like myself currently) this means that it is now possible to make multiples of the very same image with quite a large amount of control. I am an extremely lucky girl to have gotten one of these Instant Lab image makers! I have played with it quite a bit, working out how exposure works and experimenting with some of my compilation images.instant lab003 small

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As well as some of my other cell phone images, just for fun.

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This all fits into my book project better than I ever thought it would. The book itself contains a series of cell phone photos I took last year. My plan is to use the Instant Lab to create instant prints of some of these photos that will serve as the covers for the book. This all may be a bit hard to imagine for some of you, but I think it will be awesome. There will be more photos of this project coming soon, as well as a dedicated post.

My second class at MCBA is also being taught by Chip Schilling. This class focuses on making photopolymer plates. We are almost half way through the class. So far I have already learned many things about turning photographic images into polymer plate negatives, as well as a few more ways to get plate negatives made (a few of them being much more affordable).

I am also still working on getting going on photopolymer photogravure. That process is moving a long slowly, but it is coming. We have the facilities at MCBA to do this process, and I am working on making sure it happens. It involves a lot of time, and a lot of experimenting, but I am really enjoying the challenge, and of course really enjoying working there. Hopefully I will have more on this to share soon.

So all of that, coupled with some ‘life-in-general’ issues, I have been running around a lot more lately than I expected to be. And of course, this little blog has been neglected in the mean time. Honestly, when things are getting to me, I turn more to my journal than my blog or social media. That’s just part of who I am. And I have come to peace with that. Really, it gives me a good excuse to keep up on my book making skills, so I can make a new journal when I fill one up! I do have a lot of projects, and many great photo shoots that I hope to share with you here soon. This blog won’t stay quiet for long.


Film 365 – Day 26: January 16, 2014


I was doing more experimenting with my Sx-70. It seemed that the shutter was stuck at only one speed, so only images taken in certain lighting situations would work.  january 16 small

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This was my favorite image from that day.


Polaroid Sx-70 camera

Impossible Project Px100 Silver Shade film

This new year is still new



I am still getting the hang of this new year.

I have introduced a lot of new practices into my creative life. Some are sticking well, others not as much.

I have kept up with my film 365 project, and in the process fixed one of my broken cameras.

I have kept up with my ‘morning pages’ journaling practice, though not quite every morning, and not always 3 full pages. But I am journaling and writing more, and it is helping me more than I ever thought.

I have started doing yoga. I went to three classes last week, and really enjoyed the challenge and calm they provided. (Also, yoga makes me feel warm, which I desperately need now!)

I have started working with the studio manager at MCBA on a very exciting project there.

I have started a new book making class at MCBA that will guide me towards making a new editioned book. I admit, I was scared to death to go to this class. I still am, though much less than I was. It is intimidating studying under and next to book artists that I look up to and admire, and feeling like my work belongs. But it has been amazing. I have a lot of work to do on this project, and many articles and books to read to help guide me through this design process, and I am looking forward to it!

Through a very kind friend’s amazing generosity (if you happen to be reading this, you know who you are!) I am the owner of an Impossible Project Instant Lab camera. This amazing little invention creates instant photos of any image you can put on a cell phone. I have played with it all weekend, trying different exposures, making images of cell phone photos and artwork compilations, and double exposures. 2014-02-08 11.31.45

There will be a full blog post on this very soon! I am still too amazed at what it can do to really put in words yet.

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I have had to do more healing this winter than I ever expected to. For the first in quite a while, I finally feel like I have a better grip on it. 2014 is still new and still fresh, and still great.

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Today also happens to be the birthday of the guy I adore. I am very happy to be enjoying 2014 with him. Happy Birthday love!

The house on the hill

I mentioned in my last post (almost 1 month ago…sorry!) that John and I were moving.

It finally happened.

I survived.

Everything is starting to get settled.

There are not as many boxes anymore.

And we now live in this beautiful little house on a hill.

the house on the hill


With yards filled with day lilies and hostas…




and a large front window that looks out over the world…




front window


It all seems quite perfect!

We are working our way through the long part of settling in, but already it seems to feel so much more like a home. Our home.

Updates will be much more frequent now. I have a lot of things to tell you all about!

Until next time,


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It is late, but I finally finished the box for my class! The box has compartments that pull out on each side. Closed, it shows one photo. Open, it shows three photos. The photos were taken with Impossible Project Black Frame PX600 Silver Shade instant film. I’m not positive, but I think this took me around 20 hours to finish…





New film and photo walks

Last week The Impossible Project sent out an email to all it’s Pioneer members (addicts from the beginning) with a special offer: buy some packs of their new silver shade (black and white) film at an awesome price, test it out, and post your pics for all to see. I squealed with delight, and then groaned, remembering how much my photo/art spending account was already in the red (this is what happens when you are working super hard on an non-traditional education program that doesn’t have the option of a student loan or grants). So I sent a little tweet back to the great Impossible people expressing excitement over their new product and that I wished I could order some, and determined that this time I would just watch from the sidelines and see my other Pioneer friends post their pictures, knowing someday I would be able to afford more film. Much to my surprise, a tweet saying “Merry Christmas” came back to me, along with a notification that two boxes of the new film were being sent my way, free of charge. Seriously?! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was! I looked at the statement on my computer with tears in my eyes. Not many companies would do something like this, even at the holidays. But here I was, going to get my chance at shooting this new film.

I promised to do a blog post about shooting with it – something I am hoping to get in the habit of doing a lot more often!

After a busy week of catching up on photo work, staring at the mound still waiting for me, I decided that Sunday was going to be my day for a photo walk. I started out loading new film in my Polaroid One Step (an autofocus point and shoot Sx-70 type camera) because I have an external flash for it. Since it was quite cold out (30 degrees) I thought trying out this film inside with a flash might be a better bet. Unfortunately, little did I know there is a short somewhere in that camera, which proceeded to drain the battery in the first pack of film. Thankfully, they sent me two packs (and thankfully I can still transfer the remaining shots from this first pack into the empty cartridge from the second pack and take some more photos later this week!). So, I loaded up my Sx-70 and headed out to Stillwater with my husband for a day of walking and photos. 

If this film is any indication of what is to come next out of their factories, then seriously, the future is bright for instant film addicts! I am amazed at the results I got with this film, even though I was outside shooting on a very cold day without a frog tongue for my camera, using only my hand to shield the image when it first came out. I used a cold clip (two little metal pieces taped together to make a photo holder) and stuck it inside my jacket with the developing shots inside it so they would stay warm. Even in those conditions, I still got wonderful, dreamy shots of our day out by the river with the most beautiful silver tones….

This crazy little table was in the window of an antique store we walked past. 

The saw mill

This little fence lines the river along the walking path. Just enough snow had melted to create a puddle and a perfect reflection of the fence.

These shots have a more dream-like quality to them due to the cold (you get the absolute best results from their film around 70 degrees) and the fact that I wasn’t using anything but my hand to shield them from the light as they were first being ejected from my camera due to the wind (it was blowing my light shield around too much). I really love the effect though! Plus, I am still so excited that even under those conditions, I still got pretty awesome photos! Past films wouldn’t have fared as well. Instant film has come a long way!!

Ice bubbles on the river

The lift bridge

I still have 5 shots left. I will post results as soon as I can get out to shoot them. I will definitely buy more of this film as soon as I can buy film again! Also, I’m hoping to try some emulsion lifts soon….perhaps for a new book project????

Way to go Impossible Project!! You are doing awesome!

Until next time,