M is for May, and mother, and multifaceted, and marvelous, and...masking tape. It's been a great day so far but then, waking up to sunshine flooding the room is generally a good way to start things. We've had a couple of weeks of sort of iffy weather, cooler than normal for this time of year and rain almost every day, or at least for part of it. This weekend, warm, sunny and glorious, has been a welcome change. Specially since there was lots of work waiting in the garden.
I spent the whole of yesterday afternoon outside crawling around, weeding and monitoring the baby peas, lettuces, and chard happily growing in the new raised beds R built a month or so ago. And I added a couple more strawberry plants to the ones already in the planter. Last year, we had three strawberries. My mother ate one and the slugs got the rest so this year I'm hoping for a few more than that.
Today, I relaxed and enjoyed the fruit of all the labour we've put into the place in the nine years we've lived here. The garden is at it's most flamboyant this time of year, the rhododendrons are vying for colour supremacy, and the air is sweet with all the blooming things around. Not a bad view to have while printing either.
I came up with an idea for fixing the registration issues I was having last week i.e. the paper shifting in my hole-punch registration system as a result of it being a lighter weight. I taped pieces of masking tape over both sides of the holes I'd already punched in the paper. Yes, I could have taken a single strip of tape across the top on both sides but, and maybe I'm taking trying to be green to extremes here, I couldn't justify the waste.
Yeah, it was one of those fiddly and tedious sides of printmaking I'm glad not to deal with too often. It was made even more fiddly and tedious because, after I cut the 78 little pieces of tape, I actually had to use a hand-held single-hole puncher to re-punch the holes exactly where they already were. So, note to self, next time I use a lighter weight paper for a reduction print, the top edge needs to be reinforced with something stronger before punching the holes in.
The work paid off though. The tape did the trick and the paper stayed where it was supposed to so, for all but one print that was the most severely misregistered, today's colour pretty much hid last week's flaws. But then, red usually has a pretty powerful resonance anyway doesn't it?
I was, actually, almost reluctant to print over what I had so far; I was really liking the green/yellow combination. Visions of a totally different colour scheme came and went while I entertained thoughts of maybe adding in just a darker, maybe forest green, and leaving it at that. In the end I chose to stick to original plan and to consider doing another, similar, print and experiment with the colours there. Now, seeing the red added, I'm pretty happy I stuck to the plan. That's one of the things I love about reduction prints: all the different faces a print can wear before it's finished. It's that Wow! Cool! thing that goes on.
Anyway, printing done and feeling on top of things, I finished off a good weekend by baking one of the magnificent (another "m" word) breads I've been making since I discovered Jim Lahey and his amazing bread technique. I used the recipe as it is here (except with whole wheat bread flour) but I now also have Jim's book so I can try out some other things.
Yes, I really did make this bread! And yes, it really does taste as wonderful as it looks: crackly crust, moist and chewy crumb, and everything else you could possibly want a bread to be. Not bad for something that involved less than 15 minutes of actual labour. It was a perfect match to the Salmon Bisque R makes for us all each year on Mother's day.