Monday, May 28, 2012

The History, Art and Science of Stereo Photography by David Damico

Since the early days of photography, the stereoscopic image has been of interest to the public and documentarians alike. In 1851, English mathematician, David Brewster delighted Queen Victoria during the London Exhibition with his stereo photographs mounted side by side. That sparked the tremendous popularity of stereo photography and stereoscopes that lasted well into the later 19th century. Popular images included mythological, literary scenes from classical antiquity, famous personages, comedy scenes and historic events. Many of the Civil War photographs frequently seen started out as a stereo photograph making this war the first to be seen by the general public.

What constitutes a stereo image? The normal, single photographic image is called a “monocular” image since it stands by itself. The term “stereo” means two and is considered a “binocular” set of images. The stereo camera takes these two images simultaneously using two lenses. The images are spaced roughly the same distance as our “interocular” distance, the spacing between our eyes. Using a “Holmes” style viewer (such as the antique stereoscope) or small “lorgnette” glasses to view the stereo pairs brings the views together where we are able to see 3D depth.

The compositional approach is different between a single image photo and a stereo photo. In single image photography, the photographer tries to avoid anything in front of the object such as a tree in front of a building. An angle will be chosen to photograph the building directly, without obstruction. This can be for artistry or documentary purposes. In stereo photography, the stereographer looks for something in the foreground that compliments the main object in the background so there is a visual, spatial cue when the images are combined to show the depth in the image. This can be a rock, tree limb or any object. In some images, the main object will be in the foreground and the spatial cue object is framed behind. For maximum depth perception, it is best if the foreground subject is fairly close to the camera with the background object farther away. The realistic perception of depth is called “immersion.” The more the viewer is immersed in the image, the more real the perception.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Illustrator Todd Price Begins Painting Intrepid: World’s First Civil War Manned Balloon Replica Comes to Life

ELK CREEK, Va., May 25, 2012 — Tucked away in the far southwest corner of Virginia sits a former schoolhouse, its gymnasium transformed into a temporary home for one of the country’s most anticipated historic reconstructions. Illustrator Todd Price is on hands and knees, laboriously applying vinyl inks to his one-of-a-kind, large scale canvas – Intrepid, the world’s first and only Civil War manned balloon replica.

Intrepid is slated to begin flights over Western New York beginning July 4 at Genesee Country Village & Museum’s (GCV&M; When it takes to the air, Museum guests and residents across the region will be treated to a remarkable display of artistry.

Based on photos, drawings and notes depicting the original Intrepid, Mr. Price’s work is attempting to maintain historical accuracy. One side of the balloon shows an American Eagle with wings outstretched (25 feet from tip to tip) clutching an American flag, and holding in its beak a framed portrait of revered General George McClellan. The other side prominently displays the Intrepid moniker.

“To our knowledge, no one else has attempted to paint an image this large and complex on a balloon in modern times,” said Peter Arnold, president and CEO of GCV&M. “After looking at the number of challenges associated with this task, it becomes a bit easier to understand why.”

Following fabrication of the Intrepid’s shell envelope by AeroBalloon in Hingham, Mass., it was recently transported to Elk Creek, Va., where Mr. Price keeps his studio, ToddPriceArt. After carefully maneuvering the 45-by-70-foot, 1,500-pound balloon into the vacant school gymnasium, he set to work.

The artist describes his painstaking process. “I first made a transparency of my original illustration, projected it to full scale on pattern paper, and perforated the images. Finding the center lines of the balloon, I rolled the patterns out and transferred the images with a charcoal pounce bag through the holes. I then penciled the full size image onto the balloon.”

“After premixing vinyl inks – a warm, medium and cool for each element – I began painting from the center using fitches, working outward to avoid kneeling on the image. The inks dry very rapidly, altering my usual blending techniques, so I’m forced to work quickly and the colors have to be spot on.”

Adding to the complexity is the structure of the deflated balloon itself. A sphere, the balloon doesn't lie flat and the substrate doesn't stretch, requiring Mr. Price to paint over hills and valleys while maintaining the proper perspective.

Although today he teaches at the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts in Galax, Va., Mr. Price is no stranger to large format painting. From 1986 to 1992, he lived in Rochester, N.Y., painting billboard pictorials across the region prior to the advent of vinyl wraps.

He maintains another connection to armed conflicts in our nation’s past, having designed the 3,600 square foot Blue Ridge Veterans Memorial, which is currently under construction.

Painting of the Intrepid is expected to be completed by early June, after which GCV&M will take delivery of the balloon. Construction of a companion Civil War encampment has begun, bringing an added dimension of realism to Museum guests.

 First announced this past February, the Intrepid project has captured the imagination of families, educators, historians and aviation enthusiasts across North America. In addition, renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and adventure balloonist and Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson have both praised the historic reconstruction.

A team of prominent advisors is assisting with the project, including Tom D. Crouch, Ph.D., senior curator of Aeronautics for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum; Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and Rob Shenk, director, Internet Strategy & Development, Civil War Trust.

 For more information and photos, visit

This Weekend in the Historic Village

  • Both Saturday and Sunday at Humphrey, will be dying in purple, gold and green.
  • At Kieffer on Saturday you can meet the midwife.
  • All weekend you can try your hand at quilting at Eastman.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Genesee Country Village & Museum is seeking a balloon crew!

Genesee Country Village & Museum is seeking a balloon crew! The crew consists of three men (a Winch Operator, a Balloon Interpreter and an Encampment Interpreter) who will operate the Intrepid Helium Balloon for public rides and interpret the Civil War balloon encampment in period appropriate clothing. 

The Winch Operator is responsible for the physical operation of the balloon through the control of the winch. The operator is responsible for monitoring relevant meteorological data and insuring that daily operational documentation is kept. The Winch Operator is also responsible for declaring unsafe ballooning conditions, discontinuing operations and reporting this to the admissions area and other pertinent staff on grounds. The Winch Operator will also interpret to the public the military, technological and operational capabilities of the recreated Civil War era balloon “Intrepid”. This position will work primarily on the ground, though on occasion it may substitute or relieve the Balloon Interpreter, in which this person will work at heights of 200 to 300 feet. In addition, the Winch Operator will assist in safety procedures in the balloon during boarding and off-boarding of guests on the balloon, and performing basic maintenance and upkeep of exhibit area.

The Balloon Interpreter is responsible for presenting the military, technological and operational capabilities of recreated the Civil War era balloon “Intrepid”. This position will work primarily in the balloon, rising to the heights of 200 to 300 feet. While in the balloon, the Balloon Interpreter will provide interpretation that includes explanations of the balloon’s historic and contemporary operation, scientific and technological principles behind the operation of the balloon as well as ancillary communication activities associated with the operation of the balloon during the Civil War. In addition, the Balloon Interpreter will be the primary staff person responsible for insuring guests follow all safety procedures in the balloon during the ride, assist in boarding and off-boarding of guests on the balloon, and performing basic maintenance and upkeep of exhibit area. The Balloon Interpreter may also function as temporary Winch Operator working the winch and tracking meteorological conditions. 
The Encampment Interpreter is responsible for presenting the military, technological and operational capabilities of the recreated Civil War era balloon “Intrepid”. This includes providing explanations and demonstrations of the scientific and technological principles behind the operation of the balloon as well as ancillary communication activities associated with the operation of the balloon during the Civil War. In addition, the interpreter will assist the balloon crew in boarding and off-boarding of guests on the balloon, providing crowd control, basic maintenance and upkeep of exhibit area. 
Please visit our employment page to apply!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Smoking in the Smoke-House

Currently, and for the next two weeks, the smoke-house behind Hosmer's Inn will be at work smoking meat.  

The meat inside brined for up to twelve weeks prior to being placed into the smoke house to begin the smoking process. This year we are using a combination of apple and cherry wood to apply the smoke. We build our fire in a large iron pot in the corner of the smoke-house to help facilitate a smokey fire and control the heat so we are infusing the meat with smoke instead of cooking it with fire.

The following description of a smoke-house by a Western New York farmer was published in the Thursday, January 5th, 1860 edition of The Prairie Farmer published in Chicago as well as the Southern Cultivator’s January, 1860 edition and the Baptist Family Magazine in the fall of the same year.
A Cheap and Good Smoke-House

 “No farmer should be without a good smoke-house, and such a one as will be fire-proof and tolerably secure from thieves. Fifty hams can be smoked at one time, in a smoke-house seven by eight feet square. Mine is six by seven, and is large enough for most farmers. I first dug all the ground out below where the frost would reach, and filled it up to the surface with small stones. On this I laid my brick floor, in lime and mortar. The walls are brick, eight inches thick, and seven feet high, with a door on one side two feet wide. The door should be made of wood and lined with a sheet of iron. For the top I put on joints, two by four, set up edgewise, and eight and a half inches from center to center, covered with brick, and put on a heavy coat of mortar. I built a small chimney on the top in the center, arching it over and covering it with a single roof in the usual way. An arch should be built on the outside, with a small iron door to shut it up, similar to a stove door, with a hole from the arch through the wall of the smoke-house, and an iron grate over it. This arch is much more convenient and better to put the fire in, than to build a fire inside the smoke-house, and the chimney causes a draft through into the smoke-house. Good corn cobs or hickory wood are the best materials to make a smoke for hams. The cost of such a smoke-house as I have described is about $20.”

For a more detailed description of curing pork, read “The Art of Curing Bacon” in The Farmers’ Cabinet, 1840.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Intrepid Launch Date Uncertain Due to Helium Shortage

We’ve come up against an unusual problem in getting our Civil War replica gas balloon off the ground!  The increasing severity of the global helium shortage has put our planned launch of July 4 at risk.

This historic project, announced earlier in the year, has won the backing of Ken Burns, Sir Richard Branson, the Smithsonian and the Civil War Trust. It’s been called one of the most intriguing events planned during the War’s 150th anniversary remembrance. When operating, the balloon will soar up to 300 feet above Western New York with a pilot and passengers. And now the project may literally have trouble getting off the ground on time, since the Museum is unable to find a helium supplier at any cost, anywhere in the U.S.

We’re going public with this challenge today, in hopes of finding a white knight. We’re trying to be resourceful, having been in contact with the Fermi National Lab in Illinois, which had used the gas for cooling its supercollider; and with members of Congress regarding tapping the U.S. reserve. We remain hopeful!

Meanwhile, balloon construction continues – it’s being painted by our muralist Todd Price in Southern Virginia  at the moment.

Recreating Stereo Photography at the GCV&M by David Damico

Since 1838, photography has been debated as documentary or art. Early admirers of the photographic image thought it divine since the imagery portrayed the real world in such vivid detail as given by the Creator. To this day, there is an ongoing discussion about photography as documentary or art. As a photographer myself, I believe it can be both.
Genesee Country Museum is now proud to present stereo photographs of the Great Meadow and the Historic Village by village interpreter, David Damico (myself), available in the Flint Hill Gift Store. The photos are of many of the historic buildings in the village as well as interpreters of the trades and domestic services. I have been a regular, seasonal interpreter in the Village Print Office for the past three seasons. The images were shot during the three season period using two types of cameras, a film based, “Stereo Realist” camera and the digital, Fuji, W3, Stereo camera. Both types of images are offered.

The stereo photos are mounted side by side on a card. The edges of each card have been letterpress printed with the name and website of the museum, a blending of tradition with modern technology. The backsides of the card feature information on the scene or building as in the antique cards. Each card is protected by a sleeve and fits any antique or modern reproduction stereoscope. The smaller lorgnette viewers are available for purchase in the Flint Hill Gift Store. More images will be added as the season progresses.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Intrepid Comes to Life

The silk of the Intrepid is being painted!
Here we see the artist, Todd Price, carefully painting the silk of the Intrepid with the historically researched design.
Seeing the artist alongside the art gives us an idea of the scale of the balloon.

Military Heritage Day - Tomorrow!

Join us tomorrow, Saturday, May 19th as GCV&M salutes the Armed Forces on Military Heritage Day.
Throughout the museum you will find exhibits of four centuries of wars and conflicts including 1812 and Civil War weapons displays.

10:30 A.M.
Excelsior Fife and Drum Concert

11:30 A.M.
Rochester Scottish Pipes & Drums Concert

Noon & 1:30 P.M.
Children’s Militia—Join the Union and Confederate Civil War Soldiers and learn to drill and fight

11 A.M., 1 P.M., 2 P.M., & 3 P.M.
Live Firearms Demonstration: Flintlock to M1 Garand

3:30 P.M.
"Soldiers Through Time" Uniform Presentation

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 2 Days until Opening Day - Sugaring Flowers

This year on the GCV&M blog, we will regularly share recipies from the historic foodways department. To kick us off, here is a spring time favorite:

As the flowers are blossoming, this is the ideal time for sugaring flowers.
Here you can see violets, both the flowers and leaves, as well as mint leaves.

 A lovely accompaniment is this beautifully colored jelly.  To get this color, simply add a little fruit juice to Ms. Acton's reciept below.
Eliza Acton explains one method of making Apple Jelly in her “Modern Cookery” (1845)
Apple Calf’s Feet Jelly.
Pour a quart of prepared apple juice on a pound of fresh apples pared and cored, and simmer them until they are well-broken; strain the juice, and let it stand until cold; them measure, an put a pint and a half of it into a stewpan with a quart of calf’s feet stock, nine ounces of sugar broken small or roughly pounded, the juice of two fine lemons, and the thin rinds of one and a half, with the whites and shells of eight eggs. Let it boil gently for ten minutes, then strain it through a flannel-bag, and when cool put into moulds. It will be very clear, and firm, and of a pleasant flavour.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 3 Days until Opening Day

With only 3 days until opening day, here is a sneak-peek we've all been waiting for. The Wehle Gallery is coming together after renovations. As the artwork is getting placed, the halls are looking incredible.
While the Gallery won't be open fully for Opening Day, it certainly is coming along beautifully. The Gallery is expected to open this summer for all to enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 4 Days until Opening Day

As Opening Day approaches, the Flint Hill Store is filled with new items to offer.

These tweeting birds are just adorable as a teapot, sugar and creamer as well as a nesting salt and pepper set.

Among the many new textile and housewares you will find these corded baskets and trivets.

You will also find a beautiful new display of teaware. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 5 Days until Opening Day

On this day of our Count Down to Opening Day we are proud to announce you can now follow us on Twitter!

We invite you to follow along as we tweet about the coming of the Intrepid, historic village happenings, the approaching opening of the Wehle Gallery.

Find us on Twitter as:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 6 Days until Opening Day

With 6 days until  Opening Day, we are all excited about the launch of the Intrepid coming July 4th here at GCV&M!

A ride in the only reproduction Civil War era balloon will give guests a view unlike any other of the historic village and the surrounding landscape.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 7 Days until Opening Day

With only 7 days until Opening Day, we are happy to announce our new Hosmer's Tavern Suppers!

1830s Hosmer’s Inn Tavern Dinners

New this year! Have you ever wondered what life was like at a 19th-century stagecoach inn? What were the innkeepers like, how did they entertain their guests and what did they serve hungry travelers for meals? Now you can actually experience what it was like to dine in an authentic stagecoach inn that was once located on the old State Road in the heart of the Genesee Country! The museums’ own Sylvester Hosmer Inn, built in 1818, is now serving traditional tavern dinners on select weekend days this spring and fall.

You’ll have an opportunity to meet the Smith sisters and enjoy a delicious four-course meal that will include dishes prepared using receipts (called recipes today) from early 19th-century cookbooks. Learn about 19th century dining customs and share the latest news from the Genesee Country and beyond. You’ll also have a chance to explore the newly renovated inn upstairs and down. No evening at the inn would be complete without joining other guests in a parlor mixer to brighten everyone’s spirits and fill the rooms with laughter. Enjoy a private lantern tour around the historic village square with one of our hostesses between the final two courses of your meal. Step back into 1836 and share in this unique historic dining experience - you may find it hard to journey back to the 21st century!

Hosmer’s Inn Spring Dinner Menu

Curried Squash Apple Soup
Chicken Roll-up Ham with Maple Glaze Welsh Rarebit (toast points, cheese, and ale)
Green Frogs (Spring peas, eggs, spinach, & bread crumbs)
Stovies (Onions, potatoes & cheese)
Assorted Fresh-Baked Breads Butter Fruit Preserves
India Pickle Pickled Eggs Pickled Beets
Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese Almonds Raisins
Salmagundi with Hosmer’s Inn House Dressing
Lemon and Rubarb Tarts
Coffee Decaffeinated Coffee Tea

Guests will begin their dining experience promply at 6 p.m. continiuing until 9 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling 585-294-8218. Private Hosmer's Inn Tavern Dinners are available for yourself and 14 of your friends as well.

Opening Day - 19th Century Fashion

Please join us for Opening Day on Saturday, May 12 as we devote the day to 19th century fashion.
Join us as we take a look at the fashions of the 19th century. Afternoon fashion shows will focus on ladies’ dresses and undergarments worn in New York State during the 1800s. The first of three shows occurs at 12:30pm and will feature how women's dress has evolved over the entire century. Two additional fashion shows will focus on Civil War era clothing and the slender sillouettes of the Jane Austen era of the Regency period at 2pm and 3:30pm respectively.

Speak with re-enactors and townsfolk about the clothing styles of the period and see some of the museum's newest dresses modeled in their period settings as "Fashion in Action" in the following places:

•1820s: Keiffer's Place

•1840s: Dressmaker's Shop

•1830s: Hosmer's Inn

•1850s: Jones Farm

•1860s: Livingston-Backus mansion

•1870s: Hyde House

Additional Activities Offered on Opening Day:

•View antique hand bags and purses on display from the Susan Greene Collection

•Meet the farm animals down at the Pioneer Farmstead

•"Petticoat Tails" Tasting at Jones Farm - find out how this shortbread got its name!

•Try your hand at making a tin ornament at the Tinsmith Shop ($)

•See how villagers dyed brightly colored fabrics at the Humphrey House

•Visit the Dressmaker's Shop and speak with the master seamstress about fashion plates - pictoral descriptions of clothing from yesteryear

•Watch as the Dressmaker creates a sunbonnet from scratch

•Babies wore significantly different clothing than they do now - found out how infants were dressed at the Foster-Tufts house

•Ladies from the village will be gathered at Jones Farm for a community quilting bee - visit them and see the many sewing projects they are working on

•Play and frolic on the village square with an array of period games and toys

Friday, May 4, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 8 Days until Opening Day

On this 8th day of our Opening Day Count Down, we are taking a glimpse at the farm.  This momma turkey is sitting on what will be the newest inhabitants of the museum; 17 of them actually.
Yes, nestled under her are 17 eggs. We anticipate these youngsters will hatch in about 2 weeks, just for opening day.

Joining the turkeys  soon will be several ducks and chickens including four Pekin Ducks, Dominques, White Faced Black Spanish, and Silver Spangled Hamburgs.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 9 Days until Opening Day

On the 9th day of our Count Down to Opening Day, we are looking at what will be new in textiles this season.

As we speak, or read and write as the case may be, shipments of natural dye stuffs are arriving for use this season.
Expect to see new colors in dye pots and on drying racks when you visit our newest dyeing location next to the new woodshed at Kieffer this season.  Visit the dye pots at Humphrey on opening day to see what a tiny beetle and dyeing have in common. Below, you see just 5 of these ingredients.
One area of textiles is of course clothing. Over the winter our costume department and interpreters have been busy making more accurate period attire. We think you will find they look amazing.

This corded petticoat, an important support garment reproduced from one in the Greene Collection, is just one of the many new pieces of clothing you may, or may not, see in the village this year.
 In addition to these new changes:
- A corded petticoat will be woven at Humphrey
- Spinning will be found in Foster-Tuffs
- A quilting bee in Jones old kitchen for opening day
-  Flax processing down at the Hetchler barn

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012 - 10 Days until Opening Day

On this 10th day of our Count Down to Opening Day, we are looking at this incredible tin box made by our master Tinsmith, Jim Nicoll.

This large tin box will be used for storing bread according to the recommendation of Eliza Leslie.
"As soon as the bread is quite done, take out the loaves, wrap each tightly in a clean coarse cloth, damped by sprinkling with water, and stand them on their edges. This will prevent the crust from becoming too hard. Keep the loaves wrapped up after they are deposited in the bread box."
The breadbox is approx 11" by 22" by 11" with 8 decorative panels including a heart and diamond motif as well as traditional circle design created with the use of a compass. The lid will hinge from behind when finished.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012

 Welcome to our Count Down to Opening Day: What is New in 2012! Today we are looking at what is new for the village's cooks in the Livingston-Backus kitchen.

When you visit this year you will see our cooks consulting this new cookbook specially bound for them by John Ruhland, our historic bookbinder.
 You will also see this beautiful new pump from which water can be drawn.

This cabinet stands across the room from the new pump. 
Soon to be joining the Livingston-Backus kitchen will be a new refrigerator.
Refrigerator? Yes, keep checking back to learn more about the mid-19th century refrigerator.