June 27, 2010

Junk or Treasure

My parents, who share our house with us and live downstairs in their own suite, have major issues with throwing stuff away. They hang on to everything: bags and bags of other plastic bags, enough empty vitamin bottles to build a pyramid with, spent light bulbs and batteries, EVERYTHING.  And I can sort of understand that.  I'm a strong champion of the "reuse and recycle" philosophy and I hate waste.  But, having witnessed how this philosophy can sometimes get out of hand, I do a bit of a self cross-examination whenever I'm deciding not to throw out something that "may come in handy one day".  As I see it, the line between frugality and hoarding is a fine one. 

Today, hanging onto stuff turned out to be a good thing.  I was getting ready to print the first colour of my Poppies print and I'm using the same paper (Masa) I used for the Folk Floral. I had some problems with it the last time because of my registration method and ended up having to add pieces of masking tape to the back of the paper halfway through.  

Now, having learned my lesson, I added reinforcement strips to the back of my printing paper before I even started printing. I was thrilled to finally have a use for some long strips of paper I had kicking around for what seemed like for ever, for just in case "I might need them".  They were even the perfect length and, combined with some double-sided tape, saved me a chunk of time.

Unfortunately, as these things often go, the time I saved got lost in another way.  There I was, feeling pretty good about how quickly I dealt with the paper issue, when I hit a wall with my ink.  I'm using a brand new tube of yellow it's very stiff.  I'm guessing it's old stock or something because it's more like etching ink than relief ink.  Hard to mix, hard to roll up, and terrible to print with.  I forged ahead, rolled it out on the block, and ran a couple of proofs but they were awful.  The ink was so thick it filled in some of the carved-out areas and didn't transfer well.  Worst of all, the print was rough around the edges, as if I'd used pastels or something. You can see it here:

The "gloppyness" and rough edges are particularly noticeable in this section here:

Arrrggh.  Frustrated and annoyed, I knew I had to try thin my ink out a bit. I also knew that, even though it's a water clean-up ink it's still oil based, so the thinning agent had to be oil. Linseed oil came to mind pretty much right away and I headed off to the garage to hunt around for some. That's where I found  this little bottle of gold: 

Almost looks like perfume doesn't it?  And it is French but it's actually a little bottle of linseed oil from a set of oil paints I bought for an art class in highschool.  Highschool!  Decades ago! So long ago I don't have the paints anymore and I sure as hell didn't remember I still had this oil but boy, was I ever glad I saved it all these years.  A few drops and it totally conquered the stiff ink issue: 
No more ragged edges:

Plus, the bottle is just the right size to fit into the bin I store my printing inks in.  It can live there until the next time it's needed.  Now the only question I have is, though I have no clue where the phrase "saving it for a rainy day" came from, is it a coincidence it was raining today?  


Libby Fife said...

What a difference in the print! Handy that you found that little bottle. Coincidentally, my husband and I had just had a "discussion" about the garage...:)

Nicola said...

I love this piece as is! So can't wait to see its transformation. :)