Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Patient Dress / Part 1

The Willard Suitcase Project

There are quite a few items in the Willard collection at the New York State Museum that are not part of my suitcases documentation.  These “institutional” pieces were too numerous to photograph, but this embroidered dress just had to be documented.  The work was done by a patient who is not identified, but I am in touch with some folks who worked at Willard who might know who created this.

The Willard Suitcase Project

This will be a photo heavy post with less text than in my usual posts, but the details in the dress are amazing and I wanted to share as many as I could.

The Willard Suitcase Project

It wasn’t just the amazing designs; the precision of the embroidery knocked us out.

The Willard Suitcase Project

The Willard Suitcase Project

There were a good number of cats on the dress.

The Willard Suitcase Project

This one seems to be hovering over a plant.

The Willard Suitcase Project

Not sure what is going oh above, but the orange is such a beautiful color.

The Willard Suitcase Project

This looks to me like a cat but what is it doing?  Any thoughts?

The Willard Suitcase Project

The Willard Suitcase Project

I love how this person’s hair is rendered.

The Willard Suitcase Project

The orange flower in her hair is lovely.

The Willard Suitcase Project

These little flowers are so delicate.

The Willard Suitcase Project

The Willard Suitcase Project

The Willard Suitcase Project

The watch and ring on this figure are such a nice touch.

The Willard Suitcase Project

Thanks so much to Peg Ross for helping me set the dress up in order to photograph it.  I am terrible at stuff like this, and as usual, she really made it happen.  And if I remember correctly, Connie Houde from the museum was also there to assist.

I hope to post the back of the dress (I want to keep calling it a shift; is that correct?) sometime soon.  I leave Atlanta later today but will head out to the Botanical Garden before my flight.  Thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / Henry L

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 31/01/2015

I have just uploaded a few more cases to the willardsuitcases.com site.  Henry L’s cardboard box is one of the more interesting in the collection.  This photograph was in the Exploratorium exhibit, and it is one that my friend Alex Ross printed at about 48 inches wide.  It looks amazing huge.

Peg is back from her travels, and we hope to begin shooting again sometime this week. We are both eager to get back to it.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Willard Suitcases / Over The Top

Posted in Architecture, Asylums, Dance, Hadley Hall, History, Landscape, Willard Asylum by joncrispin on 04/03/2014

Well, it seems we made it.  Late this afternoon we went over the $20,000 goal, with 324 backers.  There is still just under 24 hours to go and I am hoping a few more folks will come in to be a part of the community.

I couldn’t find a date on this scan of a bird’s-eye  view of Willard, but I am guessing late 19th Century.  The main building in the foreground is Chapin House, which sadly, is now gone.

And this photograph is from a Hallowe’en party in Hadley Hall (also where movies were shown).  I assume it was taken sometime in the 1950’s.  The band almost certainly are not patients, but the dancers and the folks sitting around the dance floor would mostly be.  This room still exists, in fact it is where Karen Miller and I spoke at the Romulus Historical Society event this past summer.

Every time I write up a post here, or update the Kickstarter page, I find myself wanting to over-use the word  “amazing”.  This whole project is that way for me.  Amazing that I have access to the cases, amazing that the cases even exist,  the amazing lives that are revealed by the contents of the cases, the amazing people that are working with me (thanks Peg, and everyone at the museum), and  the amazing people that are supporting this work through Kickstarter and in so many other ways.  There, I think I got it out of my system.  But, you know, it is really something to be a part of all this.   Cheers everyone, and thanks.  I am back shooting the suitcases tomorrow, and hope to have an update in the evening when I get back.

Danger / Invisible Laser Beam

Posted in Asylums, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 13/12/2013

I really liked this case when I shot it on Wednesday.  It belonged to Mabel Y.  The pattern on it is actual weave as opposed to a fake print pattern made to look like weave.  It, like many of the suitcases, has no means to support the top when opened, so Peg and I are constantly coming up with some way to hold it upright for the photograph.

Here is one of our usual tricks.  My parents gave me this thermos for my birthday at least 30 years ago.  I always make a pot of milky tea for the drive over to Rotterdam, and since the storage facility is very chilly in the Winter months it is great to have something warm during the day.  The laser beam sticker comes from my great friend Peter Carroll who seems to pick up things like this on occasion.  /  You can see Peg in the background working on her computer.  She created an amazing database into which we can enter all the pertinent information about each case, its contents, and the owner.  She is doing her best keeping me and the project organized, and I am so grateful for her help and support.

Willard Suitcases / November update

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 15/11/2013

It has been quite a while since I have posted a suitcases update.  There is a lot going on, and I finally have a bit of a breather.  I have been shooting at least one day a week in Rotterdam, and some weeks I have managed two full days.

 On Tuesday, Peter Carroll came out from Ithaca and we shot video for the upcoming Kickstarter 2 appeal.  It will be several weeks before it is even close to be up and running (pending Kickstarter approval), but I have been thinking a great deal about how to go about the whole thing.

 I have a natural aversion to asking for financial support for my independent projects, and it is a bit of a struggle for me to think about how to begin this process all over again.  After the shoot, I was talking to my son Peter, and he had some great words of encouragement, especially the idea that I would never be asking for a second round of support if the first one wasn’t so successful in getting folks interested in the suitcases.

 And what really keeps me going is that in doing this work, I have helped to create and incredible community of people who are invested in the completion of the project.

 Peg Ross and I have been so productive in the last two months.  We have a system set up that allows us to be super efficient.  In one two day period alone we managed to shoot almost 30 cases.  Most of these were partially to completely empty, but I have come to feel that it is just as important to document these suitcase as the ones that are full.

 These license plates are a good example.  Along with the paper tag, these were the only objects in Robert Y’s case.  Amazing.

 Stuert B’s case was filled with these bathroom products.  This is the second container of Dr. Lyon’s Tooth Powder we have come across.

 I love the Mennen logo on the top of the talcum container.  Beautiful.

 I have also been able to upload a few more suitcases to “The Cases” section of  willardsuitcases.com.  Check it out if you get the chance and please stay in touch.  It means so much to me to get feedback.

Willard Suitcases / Leo R. / Peg Ross

Posted in ephemera, History, Jon Crispin, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 28/10/2013

The New York State Museum did an amazing job conserving and cataloguing the suitcase collection.  Three staffers did most of the work.  Sarah Jastremsky, Christine Allen, and Kara Chambers worked for months on the project, and they each had their own style of wrapping.  I have never been able to tell who did which case, but they all did an amazing job.  This particular case represents one of those distinctive styles. / Peg and I always try very hard to return the suitcases to their original condition once we are done shooting.

And it is she who does most the work in this regard.  Here is the result of rewrapping Leo R’s case;  very close to the original and equally effective.  She looks very proud and happy in this picture, as well she should. /  From time to time I mention Peg in these posts and it bears saying again that I would have a very hard time doing this work without her help.  She deserves a lot of the credit for what you see here and on willardsuitcases.com and I am so grateful that she is a partner on the project.

Leo’s case was one of many leather grips that we have photographed.  There wasn’t much in it, but what was there was great.  You can see by the label that he was admitted on 25 June, 1954.

I have never seen a Vaseline tube in this color.  I wish they would have kept using it, as it is a shade of green that knocks me out.

I have been adding more cases to the suitcases site.  Eleanor G’s just went up, which one of the larger collections of photographs.  I’ll have more posted by the end of the week, just click on “The Cases” at the top of the page.  Thanks for checking it out.

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