Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mirroscope: the Buckeye Stereopticon Company

While shopping at a flea market at the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill in Wisconsin, Denice and I stumbled on a Mirroscope with a box of slides on one of the dealer's tables for $40.  Thus, the classic assemblage dilemma was set up:  how historic is the piece I am about to buy and can I hack it all to hell without a wit of conscience?

This was a hard one.  I liked the historical nature of this old projector and really wished it could be sitting in a museum somewhere.  On the other hand, if it did have great value to mankind's knowledge, would not it already be in a museum and not sitting in a flea market waiting to be sold for a minimal amount of money?

What is a Mirroscope?  Here is the basics (and the photo above) according to the Museum Victoria website: "Mirroscope, a projector known as an episcope, and sometimes called a magic lantern. The mirroscope was made by the Buckeye Stereopticon Co., Cleveland, Ohio, USA....Inside are two light sources, which illuminate the object to be projected. Usually this object would be a postcard, photo, or other printed matter, but objects such as coins or leaves could also be projected. The light is reflected through the lens, and the image is projected onto a wall or screen. The light sources are burners. The two chimneys are directly above the light sources, allowing the heat to escape while preventing light from entering. Focus is achieved by moving the telescope lens tube in or out...A six-faced object with a lens attached to the front panel. There are two cowls on the top to release heat produced by light source inside object. Rear panel is hinged at the bottom and opens to reveal a dual burner and mirrored reflector plates. Supported underneath by four feet".

After reading the above, my Mirroscope at some point lost its two cowls and had been converted to electricity.  Now I do not feel so bad about hacking it all to hell.

From the minute I saw the Mirroscope, I knew what I wanted to do with it.  I wanted to create a human shape wherein the image within would carry out the theme of the piece.  So step one became attaching some arms to the Mirroscope.  Over the years, after many tries at attaching stuff and having it fall off later, I have learned to create armatures for everything I want to stay on.  Because I always work in my front room in front of the television, I have to find interesting places to use as vices, braces and rest stops.

Eventually a matched set of arms are threaded through the Mirroscope and anchored with the rebar wire armature.  I made a decision not to add the feet I had planned for and keep this one a tabletop piece. 

A bigger challenge is what I want to do with the projection aspects of the head and body.  In rummaging my own basement, I came across a welder's mask that would work as a frame so I hacked into the head to create a passage way for the light and secured the mask to the head.  For the head, I selected a mannequin form I had purchased for a workshop and then never used. Then I had to Dremel an opening into the top of the Mirroscope to provide a way to attach the head and that was the hardest thing to do in terms of the historical nature of the old projector. 

Within the mask, I wanted to add an image.  I had an opportunity to do a model shoot at a photography studio so I decided to use one of the shots to represent what the guy is thinking. 

The last key element was what would be projected from within.  What stronger "within" is there but a heart?  So I used an image from an old anatomy book to create the red heart that would be projected from with the Mirroscope. 

I re-wired the electrical enhancement to the Mirroscope and left the back door flap of the projector unmodified so that I can replace bulbs as needed. 

Then it was time to put it all together with each joint carefully secured with Aves Apoxie Clay.

Painting this piece was a matter of finding the golds and greens in the Mirroscope reflected in the body parts added. 

While thinking about the theme and dealing with the name of the company, at the last minute I decided this piece needed some "buck" in the buckeye so I added antlers and painted them into the piece. 

So with $65 worth of stuff and after seven hours of work, we have Mirroscope: the Buckeye Stereopticon Company. 

At some point I will try to take better pictures of this one but the challenges are more than I can handle right now.  I hope you can at least get a sense of what this looks like when it it lit and when it is not. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh I wish I would have known as I live right down the hill. I missed the fair this year, alas my loss.