As We Were: A New Series About 19th Century Photography, Fashion, and Fun

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Ambrotype. Around 1850-54

As We Were: A New Series About 19th Century Photography, Fashion, and Fun

Today is the start of a new series As We Were, a look into 19th Century photography, fashion, and culture. The idea came from my box of ghosts, or that is the many boxes I have full of 19th Century photos that need to be shared.

My regular readers will recognize some of the images, but there are many many many more that haven’t been seen for a long time.

Each 1st and 4th Wednesday I’ll ramble share my photos, along with stories, thoughts on fashion like how bustles and hoop skirts really work, society, and other related subjects. See the list at the end of the post for a better idea of what I’m up to here.

My term box of ghosts comes from the fact that if your turn a daguerreotype image you see the negative form and it looks like a ghost. That is also why these images are extremely difficult to photograph with my iPhone.

Ambrotypes, and later paper photographs are easier to photograph due to the fact they don’t have the negative reflection.

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The Beginning – 1840’s and Early Photographic Portraits

Between 1845 and 1850, Texas and California became part of the Union, along with Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

In the 1840’s Edgar Allen Poe wrote his most famous works, James Marshal discovered gold in California, Mormons founded Salt Lake City, the Donner Party spent a winter near Lake Tahoe, Baseball became a national passion, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph, and the 1st Women’s Rights Convention was led by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, photography became part of our lives.  Anyone could have their portrait instantly taken. American culture would never be the same.

In 1839 the daguerreotype was brought to the United States. The artistic and innovated immediately set up studios so that anyone could have their real likeness captured with a depth and clarity that matched the real world. It was an exact image. It was like magic.

Now it wasn’t just the rich who had their portraits to share to the world. Almost everyone could afford to have their portrait taken.

The expressions on their faces was serious, apprehensive, guarded, or a shy joy. Popular opinion says they did not smile but we know that isn’t true. Smiling in portraits wasn’t always the popular thing to do, and with the long exposure times not always the easiest for the often uncomfortable sitters. After all, sitters were sometimes in an uncomfortable head brace that kept them motionless for the exposure time of 3-5 minutes.

Unlike paper photographs, there were no negatives daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. There was one take. No copies. Each piece was a precious original.

The daguerreotype took us from being anonymous to being forever smiling shyly, in an expression captured forever. We would never be forgotten.

Photography changed society and the way we view ourselves.

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Daguerreotype 1840’s

 

Below are examples of early daguerreotypes and ambrotypes from my collection. Most were taken in the 1840’s, with the exception of a few taken in the early 1850’s.

For an enlarged view click on the image.

In future posts I’ll include other subject matters including animals. Even early on cats, pornography, and photography as art caught on. Cat memes are nothing new. Though many early portraits with cats are blurry due to the fact that cats don’t always listen to the photographer.

 

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The Basics Types of 19thCentury Photos

Daguerreotype

A daguerreotype is a picture produced on a silver coated copper or silvered glass plate. A sensitizing agent of iodine and a developing agent of mercury is used to make the image come alive. I’m not sure how the chemistry works but it does, and it does it with great beauty. The first commercial daguerreotype was introduced in 1839. They became popular in the 1840’s and 50’s. They were last made in the mid-1860’s as paper photos became popular.

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Ambrotype

The ambrotype was created by a negative image produced on a glass plate. The image views positive by the addition of a black backing. Unlike a daguerreotype ambrotypes are not reflective. The photo below is an abrotype you might recognize as Randolpho wearing one of his famous hats.

Ambrotypes were introduced in 1854 and more or less stopped production in 1865.

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Randolpho wearing one of his famous hats. Notice his nicely tinted cheeks.

Tintypes (also know as melainotype and ferrotype)

Tintypes are negative images produced on a thin iron plate then made positive when a think undercoating of black Japan varnish is applied. The wonderful thing about tintypes is that they do not break when dropped. Tintypes are often dark.

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Tintypes were introduced in 1856 and continued to be produced until around 1930. You’ll often find tintypes of vacation spots such as in swimsuits or posed casually with friends. The portrait I use for my blog is a tintype.

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Juliette

Cartes de Vistite  or CDV

CDVs were introduced in 1854 and are PAPER photographs. These are small 2.5 x 3.5 inch photos mounted on 2.5 x 3” cards.  These were extremely popular, especially during the Civil War era. People liked CDVs because they were small like calling cards and easy to hand out to friends and family.

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My regular readers might recognize this fine fellow. Innocenzio D’Antonio: An opera singer and friend of the family.

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Civil War era dress. Check out the beautiful details.

Cabinet Card

When most people think of old photos they think of cabinet cards. Cabinet cards are paper photographic prints measuring 4” x 5.5 inches mounted on a 4.25 x 6.5 inch cardboard backing. These were introduced in 1863 and pretty much stopped production around 1920. Some people collect cabinet cards with fabulous back designs advertising the photographer.

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Future posts will include:

  • Civil War Era Fashion including the hoop skirt
  • California portraits
  • Bustle Dresses
  • Hoop Skirts
  • Many many posts on fashions of the 1840’s – 90’s
  • Big hair
  • Children
  • Parents and children
  • Families
  • Grandparents
  • 19thCentury Teens
  • Dogs and Cats
  • Weddings, graduations, and other special occasions
  • Children and toys
  • Tinted images
  • Tintypes
  • Big hats
  • Having fun
  • Extreme Fashion
  • Beautifully unattractive portraits
  • Vampires, Ghosts, and other paranormal issues, with help from Nigel
  • Fabulous Hats
  • Cabinet Card Backs
  • Outdoors
  • RPPC – Real Picture Post Cards
  • Hot Victorian Guys
  • And more

Post Mortem and Erotic photographic images from the 19th Century are popular among collectors and online discussion groups. While there are many interesting and beautiful examples in both genres, I do not collect either of these types of photos and will not be featuring either one in my future posts. 

Remember to come back every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month for another fun installment of As We Were.

If you would like to go back to previous posts (when I have them) there will be a link on the left side blog menu.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I’d love to hear from you.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Ambrotypes. Sisters early 1850’s. Note the fabulous matching dresses and tinted cheeks. Love these girls.

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Ready for adventure in the 1850’s

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1840’s. Yes, I’m a teenager here with my sister and I’m still bored.

Creative Ghosts

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity. I am an artist and writer. By using both I am a story-teller using both words and pictures – sometimes together and sometimes not.

I am fortunate to know so many other creative beings who are writers, artists and musicians and even actors. Anyway, being one of those kinds of people is never easy. The risks of even admitting one is creative is great. You’re scorned if it is your passion or if try to make a living of it. You are celebrated if you succeed. There seems to be no in-between. And nobody understands, or so it seems. Mentors are few and far between. Paths are unclear and filled with holes.

Then again it can be wonderful and rewarding and magical. When I’m creating I’m happy. When I’m creating and making money that really makes me happy.

This morning I’m working on some drawings and writing, as well as some business…

I’d just fixed coffee in my red French press and looked out the window to see the red shoulder hawk sitting in an oak tree and turkeys walking below (just setting the scene.) Anyway, my brain was starting to go blank and doubt was setting in and my attention span was well, I have no attention span what so ever.

I looked up from my computer to see a pale face surrounded by a mass of shaggy dark hair. It was Nigel, THE GHOST, my ghost, sitting across from me with a fuck-you-Juliette look on his face.

“What are you trying to do today Vampire?” He was in one of his usual fresh out of the grave moods.

“I was just thinking about all of my insanely creative friends.”

“You have friends?”

“Don’t be rude. So tell me Nigel, you were a successful artist. How did you manage it?”

He leaned back in the chair and then loosened his tie.

“Well, Juliette, my dear dear dear Juliette, I learned the business. I was sort of an asshole. I never took no for an answer. I believed in my art. But most of all I had a lot of support. Nobody every expected me to do anything but succeed. Good thing my family didn’t want anything to do with me or I would have never done anything. But my friends and my foster family were my real family. They believed. They made me believe. I probably would have killed myself before I ever made it out of high school if I’d stayed with my biological family. I was my art. My art was me. There was no separation. I worked smart too, learned from my mistakes and… connections were a big thing. I went to the right school. Right away I started to network and find the right people. I’ve never been shy. I was driven. I didn’t listen to anyone who wanted me to be nice or follow the norms or get a real job. Most of all I was good. I was great. People still buy my art. They still love it. Can you imagine if I’d lived? Can you imagine all of the people with real talent who are alive right now but so beaten down by all of the crap that they’ve heard all of their lives about how art doesn’t matter? At least their art doesn’t matter because… It was easy for me because I didn’t have to please anyone but myself and I was damn great at both art and pleasing myself. Everything is easy if you go throughout life as sort of a prick.”

I listened and thought a bit then poured more coffee.

I looked up and Nigel’s handsome almost transparent face was next to mine. “And you want to know what else Juliette? Tenacity. A lot of tenacity. A whole lot of tenacity.”

“It is easy when you’re young to dream,” I said, thinking of the teens I know, and of my own youth.

He gave a laugh, but it wasn’t mean. It was happy. “But when you’re old you have the life experience. You can do anything.”

“It isn’t that easy,” I said.

“Nothing is that easy, especially bringing back that passion but it can be done.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t be a ghost before you’re dead,” said Nigel and he vanished in a whisp of blue smoke.

I’ve had doors slammed in my face. So I go to a side door or through a window. Or I find a better door. Or I kick the door down. Or I sit outside and yell. But as I go through my own front door, into the home I love knowing that my creativity bought this house I know that nothing can get me down at this point. It can’t. I won’t let it.

As I embark on new creative endeavours, new journeys so to speak, I will try not to bring any old ghosts with me. Well, with one exception. I will bring Nigel along with me, even if he is a pain in the ass sometimes. But when I go it alone I know he’ll be there, along with so many others cheering me on.

And in turn, I will be on the sidelines cheering on my creative friends. Better than that I’ll march in the parade beside them.

Never give up your art. Never give up your creative spirit. Never give up. Never. Like Nigel said – don’t be a ghost before you’re dead.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

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Just Want Bethalynne Home. 120 Days in Hospital

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I came to know Myke Amend through his amazing Steampunk and Fantasy artwork. He reminded me of a modern Jules Tavernier. Then I discovered the beautiful works of his wife and love artist Bethalynne Bajema. They are one of those couples with the kind of love that so many people can only imagine. It is true and strong. They need your help.

Myke has started a GoFundMe account to get Bethalynne home. Please read below. Please donate if you can. Please share this.

CLICK HERE to donate.

Just Want Bethalynne Home. 120 Days in Hospital

From Myke Amend

My wife, artist Bethalynne Bajema (Amend), was recovering from a terrible fall, but doing well… fine, happy, and taking short walks by the river with me by March of the following year. More and more energy every day.

By April her legs were swollen, and we thought it was maybe a fracture from that horrific fall over six months prior… it seemed she needed some more care for recovery.

It didn’t work out that way. She has had long hospital stays ever since, days at first, then weeks, then months. She is now at over 120 days in this latest stay, with only a handful of semi-pleasant days home, then ERs, more hospital time, a short and horrific stay at the wrong assisted living facility, back to the ER, and finally to a hospital that is actually looking for causes and fixes.

Things have been nothing short of horrific for her all this time. The things that come looking at a few walls for months on end especially. Trauma, fear, heartache, homesickness, and more. I have been doing everything I can to get us into a home that would allow me to modify things for accessibility so that when they find the cause, she can finally come home.

It looks now that the doctors might be onto something, and in this might have her home very soon. I’ve been trying my best, driving between the hospital, work, and home every day for months now, sorting through medical bills, making calls, packing and unpacking, looking at/working on ways to make our home accessible for when she is finally able to come home.

I am working on ramps, putting handles everywhere, but the stairlift part of this is something I can’t just build on my own, and is outside our means with all that has been happening. Kidney damage incurred in treatment has led to a regular need for dialysis, and sometimes an extreme amount of fluid gain, lack of use in her legs especially for stairs. To account for this, a higher grade of stairlift is needed, which doubles the price. There is a bend at the top of the stairs, which also doubles the price again. We are looking at $8500 for the stairlift she will need here. This is all I am looking to fund, and, I know, it is a *lot*. I am hoping anyone who reads this will help us to make it a hair less than that. There are medical bills, lots, and I am contesting/negotiating/finding payment plans… those are less immediate, and we can deal with them over time.

Primary goal: If I can do anything prevent her going back to assisted living for more than a week, or at least shorten her stay, I will. I got t spend NYE with her at the hospital this last night, and it was a very good night. She has been very alert, very bright, her old self these last few days… but, what she has been through… there are levels of dementia and psychosis associated with long hospital stays, a quarter as long as hers, and she has had some Hellish moments these last few months, easily corrected by getting her out.

She really needs to be home, I really need her here. I don’t want her to go through any more of this beyond treatment and rehabilitation…. and I’d rather that rehab happen here, home. We’ve been months with her feeling she will never see her cats again or spend another night with me on the couch, let alone curled up together. Life, on the other side of a hospital bed rail, is hard enough for a few weeks. We really need your help to get her from the hospital and through/out of assisted living as soon as possible.

Here is the link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/just-want-bethalynne-home-120-days-in-hospitals?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&fbclid=IwAR0SfcPMhzIafUzRr_blSWg0gB2j5y6cWIxIFuxrzcemjGOOg7yMhvEvG8o

Or CLICK HERE to donate.

Please share this. Pass it on. Keep the love going.

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Bethalynne’s Artwork: http://www.bajema.com/biography/

More artwork: https://atticcartomancy.com/cards/ac-decks/

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Musings on Pets, Art, Vampires, and Trying to Make Sense of Anything At All.

It started out as one of those days where the dog ate all of the cat food, the squirrels at all of the bird food, the cat tried to eat a bird that flew into my house, I’m trying to take photographs and the fall lighting is all off, then the cat barfed on the carpet. The other cat is asleep out on the deck. He never causes me problems aside from his yearly “I am an idiot and got myself gravely injured again,” vet visit. Today, I am also feeling a great sense of loss that has come over me in a wave.

A sense of loss and melancholy isn’t uncommon for Vampires. I just had to throw that out there.

I put on some sunscreen and decent clothes and went out in search of art supplies. I didn’t need any. I thought it might inspire me to try to put pen or pastel to paper. That is to put it to paper without fear of disappointing myself.

At the downtown art supply shop, the one that had been there for decades, I wandered the isles looking at brushes, textures, tools, and colors. I was drawn to all of the shades of gray, then got sort of perturbed that some asshole decided to write a bad porn book of that name that became oh so popular with bored middle aged women who didn’t date enough when they were single. Still I looked and imagined what I might create.

I felt a cold hand upon my arm, then looked to my left. “Connie,” I said upon seeing my old friend. Constantine Jones, the very one I wrote the story Night Dogs about. He’d told me about that night a few years back. I valued his friendship because he matched my love of art, both in creating it, and in studying it.

“Juliette. Pastels today?”

“Maybe,” I said.

We talked of art and our lives. He asked about my children. I asked him what he was up to. I purchased pastels and paper. He picked up a few brushes and oil paint. Then we walked down the tree lined street to a small independent coffee shop.

As we sat in the shade sipping our coffee nobody would have suspected that we were Vampires who’d know each other for over a century.

No, dear reader, this isn’t a story of fangs, dripping blood, or darkness. All creatures, even the most ardent predators, the lions, the hyenas, the wolves, and the wolverines, still need their times of peace. We are always aware, but sometimes we just need to take a break from what keeps our bodies alive and think about what keeps our passions alive.

Even more so it is the small things that matter. It is things we do for tangible reason like having coffee with an old friend. We talked about art, as kindred spirits do.

Connie touched took my hand in his. It was warm from holding the coffee. I thought how odd that was to have a warm touch from another Vampire.

“Your heart is heavy,” he said to me.

“I don’t know what it is right now,” I told him. “I’m fine.”

“You’re not.”

“It shall pass. I just have too much BS that I have to deal with.” That is true, but isn’t that the case for a lot of us.

Standing across the street I saw a lone figure with dark hair and a black suit with the tie loosened. Connie looked as well.

“A ghost,” he whispered. “Why is he looking over here?”

“I know him. He lives at my house most of the time, but he’s buried near here.” I motioned for my ghost, Nigel, who was an artist in life, to come join us.

I pulled up a chair for a friend that nobody but Constantine Jones and I could see. I ordered coffee for Nigel. He sat in the chair holding the cup and letting the aroma pass through him. He can’t drink it but he can smell it, which is a small comfort for a ghost.

We talked more of art, and the weather, and small things that friends talk about.

After two hours Connie went his own way and Nigel came home with me. As we drove down the freeway Nigel changed the radio station about thirty times. I finally yelled at him to stop it.

And now I’m home. I don’t know where Nigel got off to.

From my window I cans humming birds in the lemon and orange trees. The calico cat sits snoring in a chair. I can hear the other cat scratching a piece of wood outside.

I feel better. Sometimes we just need to get away from ourselves for a while, or at least get into a different place where we can be the selves we need to be, and deserve to be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Night Dogs

Tangled Tales

 

Night Dogs

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

 

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

More Vampire Art From Jason Kemp (I absolutely LOVE these)

If you’re visiting Vampiremaman.com, and especially if you like Halloween and Vampires, you’ll love the art of J. Harrison Kemp aka my friend Jason Kemp of Tenkara Studios.

I posted the first batch of Vampire Art of Jason Kemp earlier this month. Here is the second group. SQUEEEEEEEEE. OMG I love these SO MUCH. Thank you Jason. xoxoxox.

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I have to stop for a second and admit in my cold Vampire heart that the top four images have my heart (especially the top two). Oh my goodness. Ask any Vampire. That said, the rest are utterly fabulous too.

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Tenkara Studios are presently the sole domain of author and illustrator J Harrison Kemp, or Jason as the dust bunnies call him. Within the halls of his labyrinthine workspace, a sprawling Wunderkammer, or wonder-room if you will, we find the artist surrounded and overly influenced by the many intricate objet d’art of a bygone age, a multifarious miscellany of complex curiosities that only the foolhardy would call toys. Brimful but charming, the antiquated atelier is commingled with an athenaeum housing only the greatest of literary treasures and books about things from outer space. Yes, it is here that the self-taught artist and writer draws from his surroundings that little bit more everyday and applies that inspiration to new and ever evolving graphic and fictitious projects.

Jay is currently the sole inhabitant of Tenkara Studios, a.k.a. the office and is busy with a variety of commissions, short stories, incidental projects and a soon to be realized anthology of horror fiction.

Contact: tenkarastudios@outlook.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tenkarastudios
http://tenkarastudios.weebly.com/

Jason has also designed the covers of several of our themed anthologies for WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants.) Yes, and I have to add I am SO HONORED to have worked with Jason. Wow. I love these covers. AND as a writer Jason tells a damned good story too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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