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Photograms with crystal incense - test 1

I've made a test with the crystal incense I discovered a few weeks ago while I was sick in AlUla. Right now every corner of my flat smells like strong peppermint. It's quite nice actually, it feels clean and energising. No wonder people around the world have been using incense to purify their homes for millennia. I believe it truly affects the energy of the place. And I really needed that! While I was traveling the past month I collected various materials apart form incense, including some beautiful organic pigments/powders with vibrant colours. What intrigued me with this material is that they are not the usual pigments one could find at art/paint shops. They can be melted in hot liquid and ingested as they have therapeutic properties. They also smell beautifully. I bought it from the same guy who sold me the crystal incense. Unfortunately, the language barrier was too wide for me to understand what each powder is good for. I asked an Arabic speaking friend to translate the notes I got from Google Translate...and now I can't for my life find the translation nor the notes. Maybe it has to be this way, I'll have to find out by testing them!

Previous Reference: that I'm finally home and in my darkroom, I thought I'd play around with my new toys. I tried to re-make multiple shapes of incense "sheet" (I'm not sure what to call it), by using different containers. Then I added some coloured powders to some of them:

Red- mysterious organic powder from AlUla Yellow - Curcuma Blue - blue pigments from Marrakech (these are not edible) The first layers of the sheet started to form quite quickly, after 2/3 hours. I left them out overnight to make sure the process was the same as the first time.

Outcomes: - the white sheet came out beautifully, although a lot thinner than expected so very fragile. - the colour experiments sadly failed. I think it's because of the shape of the petri dishes and maybe I didn't use enough crystal incense. I'll try again with smooth shapes and more crystals. - I need much more incense to keep testing this! I'm travelling to the desert again at the end of the month, I'll make sure to buy more. I should also look for it in Paris, I'm sure I can find it. I tried to make a photogram with the round white shape. I can confirm, it's veeery delicate. But when it broke, it unleshed new possibilites fro composition. I tried out different settings and made some tests:

This was the result on a bigger paper:

I like the detail of the small piece of crystal. It gives an interesting dynamic to the composition. It evokes some sort of movement, captured in suspension. You can't really tell if it's joining the other pieces or if it was just pushed out of the circle. The space of the cracks has an interesting quality too, graphically and conceptually. I am tempted to keep working in this image and draw on top of it. I'll update the post.

Next steps to keep experimenting: - Use more incense crystals when I melt it in water - Use different containers: various shapes but smooth angles - Try again to colour the incense shapes - Try to apply the solution of hot water+ incense to lumen prints - Experiment with negative+photogram (maybe a wide landscape could host this broken planet in its sky? - Experiment with mix media - this image makes me wanna draw minuscule figures floating through the cracks - While I write this, I am surrounded by the smell of peppermint. Is there a way for me to transfer the smell to the prints? Or I could think of a support for the images that can actually diffuse the scent? the developer is almost exhausted, tomorrow I might try putting some incense crystals in the chemicals too and see what happens (I'm not too hopeful, I think it will be washed away by the final wash in water)

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