Burnies – Fun on a cold winters Day – John Duckmanton

Picture13This is one of my favourites. I don’t throw old or uninteresting slides away; I burn them in a controlled way.

In my big competition era I often took 3-5 rolls of 36exp K64 a week and expected to get 2-3 usable slides per roll. The rest? Well, some were as good as the usable ones and were kept anyway but over half were throwaways.

First choice was given to the slide library I was using (a nice little earner at the time) but I still ended up with a big waste bin.

I must have read about it somewhere but I tried passing some of these slides through a gas blowtorch flame and copying areas of the resultant ‘mess’. Very intriguing.

I practised with the speed of pass and distance from the flame which allowed me to come up with reproducible results.

Card mounted Kodachromes were the best as they were firmly glued into the holder. Agfa and Fuji slides tended to shrink fast and the mounts also melted.

The colour tended to alter with higher temperatures so I added retouching dyes which melted into the surface to give varying effects.

Sometimes holes appeared so I found pictures to put into the holes. No computer tricks at that time so slides for sandwiching were briefly soaked in water and the unwanted areas scraped away using a sharp blade. This slide was then registered behind the hole in the burnie and again copied in the slide copier.

What about different flames? The gas flame was very hot so I tried a much cooler meths flame which tended to just melt rather than blister.

A candle flame left a layer of soot but after a few seconds the slide shrank and lightening-like cracks appeared in the deposited carbon. Again a simple montage gave a great picture.

My slide-copier only works with cameras which take manual lenses so I am looking for a way to use the above as I gradually convert my slide collection to digital format and throw away a few oldies. Don’t we keep a lot of mediocre pictures in our collections!

Extra tips:

With plastic mounted slides, open the mount and secure the trannie on all sides with cellotape.

Melted plastic can be very hot and burn you as can the flames so use pliers to hold the mount and drop the heated end product onto a sheet of cardboard to cool

Slide 1: I call this one GENESIS as the face seems to be emerging from a primeval broth.

Slide 2: This is my ANGEL FACE in a sky created by a candle flame.

Slide 3: The Devil himself! The devil is the Printer’s Devil on the old government printers in Brisbane.