Posing for wet plate and dag plates (forget about becquerel method, unless you have enough lighting power of a collapse sun, or you have a great F2 lens on EV17 day perhaps), there’s a definite need to work with the contraption which must manage to have the sitter to be still. Which would be the head braces…

Source: A. H. Wheeler, 1893—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress; retrieved from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6720/ (8th June 2015)
Source: A. H. Wheeler, 1893—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress; retrieved from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6720/ (8th June 2015)

There’s one that I know of making these close to the 19th Century design, which would be Claude Levet (refer to his head braces here), and another made by traditional blacksmith Miha Krištof, which is promoted by a seasoned wet plate practitioner, Borut Peterlin (which I think he is a Master practitioner at this point). Which is also based on several US patented head braces design, but with more industrial design look (refer to his blog entry here).

I have been procastinating alot in getting myself one.

Both of them, I am sure, are excellent in design and I am very certain their craftsmanship are top notch. Though Iwas planning to build one, or even considering mold cast iron, I hadn’t much time to prepare most of the materials. I believed I have been ‘over-designing’ what I want, rather than what is needed.

All the fuss about head braces for portraits is basically to firmly ‘touch’ the sitter’s head, neither clamping their heads down, nor grabbing them, Which I think it might as well be a torture contraption if it is so! It is like a cold, hard fingers firmly touch the back of your head and making the sitter aware, not too uncomfortable, that it is there for you to keep still.

Browsing around the web, of course the first thing I had looked out for would be the drummer’s cymbal stand (with the boom arm). Though many of the common design would be too flimsy / wobbly. So I waited til I manage to get myself a DW heavy duty drum cymbal stand from eBay, which it will arrive at some point this week.

Doodling around, it took just few minutes work in making an effective, yet simple head brace.

It takes no more than a short trip visit to your local hardware store for the top part in making the head braces:

  • Threaded rod / bar (6mm), you could go thicker up to 10mm.
  • Hacksaw and metal file
  • A vice and a hollow metal rod (with hole bigger than 6mm to manually band the threaded rod)
  • M6 Lock nuts & washer
  • M6 “Monkey ear” nuts
  • Hand drill & 5.5mm drill bit
  • A small block of wood.

And the images below shows what had been done:

The threaded bar, which was 500mm in length were cut at an equal length (250 mm) with the hacksaw, and it was then filed with the metal file to burr the edges
The threaded bar, which was 500mm in length were cut at an equal length (250 mm) with the hacksaw, and it was then filed with the metal file to burr the edges
Using a vice, bend the threaded bar/rods with a hollow metal. I estimated the angle for the sides around 40 degrees.
Using a vice, bend the threaded bar/rods with a hollow metal. I estimated the angle for the sides around 40 degrees.
The threaded rods were made into these shapes, adjust accordingly on the vice if they need to be corrected.
The threaded rods were made into these shapes, adjust accordingly on the vice if they need to be corrected.
The long end of the head braces were fitted with a lock nut
The long end of the head braces were fitted with a lock nut
Drill in the piece of block wood with the 5.5mm drill, which the threaded rod would easily screwed into the material. Use M6 bolt nut and washer to determine how deep they go.
Drill in the piece of block wood with the 5.5mm drill, which the threaded rod would easily screwed into the material. Use M6 bolt nut and washer to determine how deep they go.
Use the M6
Use the M6 “monkey ear” nut on the other side with its washer, it is easily loosen to adjust the turn of the rod.
Simple and sturdy. The diameter of the
Simple and sturdy. The diameter of the “clamp” or braces could be made smaller by adjusting the angle of the rods.

Now I am still waiting for the stand to come in, which I will know at that point what to adjust. I am sure I need another shape for the block of wood to accommodate to its clamp screw size. But the essentially, the design would be the same.

I will update here whenever that stand arrives.

Advertisements