Some Assembly Required: Emma Jaubert Howell

This series focuses on those who take the making of pictures a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools.

  Plate #17, Ambrotype, 15”x16”

Plate #17, Ambrotype, 15”x16”

Emma Jaubert Howell, Vermont

Emma Howell’s work blends her love of two wildly different mediums; photography and glass blowing. To this end, she has built her own large format camera and creates her own glass for Ambrotypes. Inspired by the form of the mussel shell for its curvilinear side-walls and low bowl shape, Howell began working in the glass studio to modify the shape to accommodate the necessary chemistry. 

Rather than using the tray method of development that is typical of the wet plate process, Howell instead uses the organic glass form to hold the chemistry. Instead of submerging the glass in a tray of chemistry. the chemicals are transferred from bottles to the blown glass form. 

To accommodate the unique glass forms, Howell has constructed her own camera. The camera itself is modeled off of a view camera and attached to a portable darkroom of Howell’s design. Instead of moving the back plane to focus the image, the lens board, which accommodates a large format lens, moves back and forth, allowing the glass to remain stationary.  

With this camera and her glass blowing skills, Howell has created a hauntingly beautiful series of photographic sculpture.

 Camera modified for blown glass plates.

Camera modified for blown glass plates.

View more of Emma’s work on her website

Have you made or modified your own photographic equipment? Let us know at info@donttakepictures.com.